08/28/2008 12:00AM

Tri-State sets up for Self Made Man


Apparently this is what Claiming Crown heroes do for an encore: They drop into a stakes race worth far less money.

Self Made Man, winner of the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at Canterbury Park earlier this month, will return to action Saturday as the likely favorite in the $50,000 Tri-State Handicap at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

Bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker, Self Made Man will go for his fourth straight victory when he breaks from post 1 under Brian Hernandez Jr. in the Tri-State, a 1 1/16-mile turf race.

"He does like to win," said Maker.

Self Made Man, a 4-year-old gelding who tends to do his best from just off the pace, could benefit from what appears to be plenty of speed in the Tri-State. Of his eight opponents, three are habitual front-runners: Petion Station, Brilliant Bid, and Voy Por Uno Mas.

"It sure looks like it'll set up for us, although I'm a little concerned about the 1-hole and getting trapped once the speed stops," said Maker. "But I've got a lot of confidence in Brian, so we should be fine."

Self Made Man appeared to be all-out in winning the Aug. 2 Emerald by a neck, "but I was never worried," said Maker. "He tends to wait on horses and get to loafing once he makes the lead."

If Self Made Man is to be beaten, it could be by Vanquisher, who might even come favored for trainer Bill Mott. Vanquisher has a late-running style made to order by a too-fast pace, and his Beyer Speed Figures are a tad better than what Self Made Man brings to the Tri-State. Mott, by the way, sent out the one-three finishers in the Ellis Turf Stakes last weekend with Platinee and Ballado's Thunder.

Other contenders include Gin and Sin, a turf allowance winner on opening day of the Ellis meet, and Cape San Blas, who comes out of back-to-back stakes.

The Tri-State, named for the Kentucky-Indiana-Illinois region in which Ellis is located, is the final stakes of the 39-day meet. It goes as the 10th of 11 races on a card that starts at 12:30 p.m. Central.

Monday is closing day at Ellis. Live action on the Kentucky circuit will shift to Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., when a 22-day fall meet begins Wednesday evening.