11/18/2004 12:00AM

United has first stakes in sights


Last year's Pennsylvania Nursery served as the coming out party for Smarty Jones. His 15-length victory and 105 Beyer Speed Figure quickly stamped Smarty Jones as a 2-year-old with exceptional potential.

There are no horses in Saturday's $50,000 Pennsylvania Nursery at Philadelphia Park capable of running anywhere near as fast as Smarty Jones did last November. But United, a New York-based colt in the race, could turn out to be quite a nice stakes horse.

United, who already has two near-victories in stakes competition on his resume, figures to be heavily favored in the Nursery, a seven-furlong race for Pennsylvania-bred colts and geldings.

Trained by George Weaver, United is the lone runner in a field of 10 to have won at seven furlongs. While that maiden win at Saratoga is his lone victory in seven starts, United showed glimpses of talent when he ran second, beaten a neck, in a pair of turf stakes.

United, a $150,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton sale in February, will be returning to dirt for the first time since he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park in September. He also adds blinkers and cuts back to a sprint for the first time since his maiden win.

No Passing Zone could be United's most dangerous rival.

In his career debut on Oct. 31, No Passing Zone overcame a slow start to defeat statebred maidens at Philly Park. He has since worked a five-furlong bullet at his home base, Penn National.

His trainer, Todd Beattie, shows a high percentage of success with horses making their second start and with stakes runners.

Beattie also has a second entry - who will run uncoupled with No Passing Zone in the betting - Linglestown, who was an easy winner of his career debut against open company at Penn National and could threaten if he moves forward off that performance.

The best last-race Beyer belongs to Bigboydancing. He ships in from Chicago and meets statebreds for the first time after earning a 67 Beyer in a maiden sprint at Hawthorne Oct. 27.