08/02/2004 11:00PM

Verkade fits winning profile


DEL MAR, Calif. - Sweet Win came west from Florida and won at Del Mar. So did Executive Deposit. Thursday, Verkade will try to complete the hat trick for trainer Jeff Mullins, whose recent shopping trip to Florida has proven quite bountiful.

Verkade was one of four horses Mullins purchased at Calder in late June for his clients. One of the horses subsequently was injured, but the other two both won this past week. Verkade makes his West Coast debut in Thursday's featured seventh race, a third-level allowance going a mile.

won three times in 13 starts in Florida, but was a cut below the better stakes runners on that circuit. Thursday's class level is appropriate for his recent form, but when coupled with the hot streak Mullins is on, he is a must use.

"I liked him as an individual when they let him out of his stall," Mullins said. "He's my kind of horse. He's kind of Quarter Horse-looking. He's a leggy, big-bodied horse."

Verkade, a son of Montbrook, drew the rail in the six-horse field. He is usually near the lead, but with the likes of speedsters Slew of the Night and Ministers Wild Cat in the field, Verkade will have to sit and finish.

If he does win, though, look for Mullins to make another shopping trip to Florida. "Guenther," Mullins said, referring to his friend Scott Guenther, who won a $2.1 million pick six over the weekend, "wants to spend some of that money."

dips into an allowance race after facing stakes runners in his recent starts. He was entered in last Sunday's San Diego Handicap, but trainer Bobby Frankel instructed assistant Humberto Ascanio to opt for an easier spot rather than face the likes of Pleasantly Perfect.

"Bobby thought it was better to run in this race," Ascanio said. "We couldn't beat Pleasantly Perfect with Medaglia d'Oro when Medaglia d'Oro was doing good. It was too tough."

In his last start, Nose the Trade finished ninth in the seven-furlong Triple Bend Handicap. Alex Solis rode him that day. With Solis sidelined with a fractured vertebra, Kent Desormeaux takes over.

"Alex said after the last race he thought seven furlongs was too short," Ascanio said.

Ministers Wild Cat tired badly in the Triple Bend. The softer pace of a two-turn race should aid his chances.

Slew of the Night is an interesting pace play. He returned from a 10-month layoff with a win against classified allowance sprinters on July 10 at Hollywood. With his inside draw and light weight assignment, he figures to make a run for it.