08/31/2007 11:00PM

Track's 3-year-old title up for grabs


AUBURN, Wash. - A divisional title will be on the line when six 3-year-olds contest Monday's $100,000 Emerald Downs Derby at 1 1/8 miles.

Call On Carson took the early lead in the division by winning the first two stakes for 3-year-olds, the six-furlong Auburn in May and the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola in June. Then Wild Cycle forged to the front with a win in the one-mile Tacoma Handicap in July, only to yield to Mulcahy in last month's 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew. Any of those three could secure a title with a win in Monday's Derby.

Mulcahy's Seattle Slew victory was especially impressive, as he came from last in a field of seven to prevail by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:41.20. The clocking translated to a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, the best in Monday's field and by far the best in Mulcahy's eight-race career. The effort was so good, in fact, that some handicappers will expect a "bounce," or regression off the top Beyer.

Trainer Howard Belvoir admitted that the possibility of a regression is indeed a concern.

"You always worry about a bounce after they run that big," Belvoir said. "But Mulcahy has a few things going for him. He ran a lot better than people realized in his previous start in the Tacoma, for one thing. He was stopped twice, but he still finished third less than two lengths behind the winner. His effort in the Seattle Slew wasn't really all that much better than his race in the Tacoma. He has also had almost a month to recover from the Seattle Slew, and he has worked twice. I think all of those things lessen the chance of a bounce in the Derby."

The stakes winners in the Derby field may well have to yield the favorite's role to Song of Pirates, who will be making just his third start Monday. Song of Pirates, a regally bred son of Unbridled's Song from the barn of trainer Mike Chambers, impressed in his July 21 debut when he overcame a slow beginning to defeat maiden special weight company by more than four lengths in 1:08.60 for six furlongs. Coming back in a one-mile allowance race on Longacres Mile Day, Song of Pirates drew away through the stretch to score by 7 1/2 lengths in 1:35.60, just one-fifth of a second more than The Great Face required to win the Grade 3 Mile.