09/26/2007 11:00PM

Two $100K stakes top closing day card

EmailERIE, Pa. - The two $100,000 stakes on the final day of the Presque Isle Downs meet Saturday are a microcosm of the 25-day season, as horses that have raced at a number of different tracks will come together in both the Fitz Dixon Memorial Juvenile and The HBPA Stakes.

The Fitz Dixon is for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs and has attracted a field of nine. The HBPA, for fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards, has 11 entrants, only three of whom have raced over the local Tapeta surface.

Plaid, trained by Steve Asmussen, is a top contender in the HBPA. She has won two stakes this year, the Pippin at Oaklawn Park in February, and the Wild Rose at Prairie Meadows in June. In her three most recent starts, Plaid finished second in the Iowa Distaff Breeders Cup on June 30, fourth in the Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 28, and second in the Matron Handicap at Evangeline on Sept. 1. Her come-from-behind style, along with leading jockey Miguel Mena, should serve her well in a race that sports plenty of early speed.

Unplugged, winner of the Claiming Crown Tiara at Ellis Park in her last out, will be one of the early pacesetters under Scott Spieth. Unplugged, who has been claimed five times this year, has won 6 of 13 races and over $166,000 this year. Unplugged is trained by Paul McClelland.

Rasta Farian comes into the HBPA off a third-place finish in the Navajo Princess at the Meadowlands on Sept. 8. All four of her races this year have been on turf. Trained by Mike Matz, Rasta Farian will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Victory Pool has the benefit of a race over the track, having won an $84,000 allowance at a mile by nearly two lengths Sept. 16. Trained by Ben Perkins Jr., she ran third in a pair of stakes at Monmouth Park this summer, the Miss Liberty and the Lady's Secret.

Sok Sok, Little Nick meet again

Sok Sok will try to turn the tables on Little Nick in the Fitz Dixon Memorial. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Sok Sok won at first asking at Churchill Downs in mid-June. Asmussen then sent him to Saratoga, where he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Sanford, beaten four lengths.

Sok Sok next ran here Sept. 7 in an entry-level allowance and was sent off as the 3-5 favorite. Sok Sok stalked the early pace in that race, rallied into the stretch to get within a length of Little Nick, but was unable to finish the job. Little Nick's final margin of victory was 2 1/2 lengths and Sok Sok earned a 74 Beyer Speed Figure. With another local work under his belt, Sok Sok may be ready to post a Beyer similar to his first two races, when he earned an 85 at Churchill and an 89 at Saratoga. Sok Sok will be ridden for the first time by Mena.

Little Nick, trained by Dale Romans, won his debut May 7 at Churchill and then had troubled trips in the Grade 2 Sanford and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, getting bumped in both events. He went to the lead in his start here Sept. 7 and never looked back, winning the six-furlong event in 1:10.30 and earning a Beyer of 80. Little Nick is one of only two horses in the field to have won twice. Little Nick will be ridden for the first time by Dale Beckner, who is tied for third in the standings.

High Appeal is the other member of the field with two wins. Trainer Michael Trombetta has run High Appeal on the turf in all three of his starts.

He won his maiden at Colonial on June 17 by 7 3/4 lengths, then returned to win the Chenery at that track on July 29 by six lengths.

In his most recent start, High Appeal finished sixth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, in the With Anticipation going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga on Aug. 31. High Appeal signaled his readiness for this race with a bullet work at Laurel Sept. 2. He will be ridden by Julian Pimentel.