12/29/2005 12:00AM

Travelin Leroy shows top figs, but be careful


Travelin Leroy has shown he is substantially faster than his competition in Saturday's Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel Park.

If Travelin Leroy runs anything close to the 95 Beyer Speed Figure he posted in his career debut last May at Belmont Park or the 90 Beyer he earned for his runner-up finish in an allowance at Delaware Park on Nov. 1, the other eight Maryland-bred 2-year-olds will be running for second in the one-mile stakes worth $75,000.

But is he really a lock? Keep in mind, Travelin Leroy has yet to run longer than 5 1/2 furlongs and has been idle for nearly two months. Trainer Mark Shuman scratched Travelin Leroy out of the H. Steward Mitchell Stakes at Laurel on Nov. 26, just six days after the colt worked a five-furlong bullet at Fair Hill, so horseplayers have a few reasons to be skeptical.

Shuman addressed Travelin Leroy's physical condition by explaining he was withheld from the Mitchell as a precautionary measure.

"We were going to run him in a stakes last time out, but he came up with a sensitive shin and missed four days of training," Shuman said. "Everything else was perfect, but he's too good of a horse to push, even with a pimple like that.

"He has a lot of speed and may find himself on the lead. There is very little speed in the race on paper. But if someone goes out there running like crazy, he can rate off of him."

For those who think Travelin Leroy is vulnerable at a short price, Creve Coeur and Vegas Play are alternatives.

Creve Coeur, who comes from the high-percentage barn of Graham Motion, has run well two of the three times he has raced at Laurel. Both good efforts came going seven furlongs on the main track, a second in the Maryland Million Nursery and a third in the Mitchell just seven days after he finished a distant ninth in the Laurel Futurity on turf.

Creve Coeur encountered traffic problems in both his good dirt races at Laurel. He will be reunited with jockey Jose Caraballo for the first time since his maiden victory in his career debut.

Vegas Play, trained by Bud Delp, is winless in two starts on dirt but displayed the ability to handle the surface when he finished second going a mile and 70 yards in a first-level allowance at Delaware Park in October. He has been freshened since finishing eighth, three-quarters of a length in front of Creve Coeur, in the Laurel Futurity.

Charles Town

Voo Kan Doo, whose last two out-of-town races were far better than either of his outings over the local course, looks like the fastest horse in the $40,000 Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes at Charles Town.

The seven-furlong race, restricted to West Virginia-bred 2-year-olds, is race 4 on a special matinee program that begins at 1 p.m.

Far back, in his first two career starts, Voo Kan Do improved when trainer Bruce Kravets dropped him in for a claiming tag at Philadelphia Park, then really moved forward when he beat straight maidens at Penn National and followed up with a second-place finish in a minor restricted stakes at Philly Park. His last two Beyers of 74 and 67 are easily the best in the Mercer field.

Voo Kan Do's chief challenger, Hold on Tight, will break just outside of him in post 2. Hold on Tight, trained by John Casey, set the pace before settling for second in the West Virginia Futurity two races ago. He returns to seven furlongs after running poorly against open company going 4 1/2 furlongs three weeks ago.