08/10/2006 12:00AM

Viable options besides 8-5 shot


Six of the nine 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's $75,000 Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park already have won on turf. Their best Beyer Speed Figures fall in a narrow range between 82 and 89.

Given those facts, it seems tough to take the 8-5 morning-line odds being offered on favored Diabolical.

Diabolical's credentials are good. His only loss in his last four starts came in the Preakness, where he was ambitiously spotted by trainer Steve Klesaris after winning a first-level allowance on dirt. His two stakes tries on turf produced a runner-up finish to Barbaro in the Laurel Futurity and a competitive fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream.

The 1 1/16-mile Shuk, a prep for the Grade 3, $500,000 Kent Breeders' Cup on Sept. 2, is a logical stepping-stone for Diabolical, if Klesaris intends to focus on grass racing for this versatile son of Artax.

"Right now that is the plan," said Klesaris when asked about using the Shuk to prep for the Kent.

Several horses in the Shuk have run almost as fast as Diabolical did when he earned a Beyer Figure of 89 for his wire-to-wire second-level allowance win at Monmouth Park in late June, the last time he raced on the turf.

Mercurius most recently got an 87 Beyer for winning a nine-furlong first-level allowance over the local course. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, is batting .333 at the meet with 18 winners in 54 starts.

Silent Roar has back-to-back Beyers of 83 and 85 for an allowance win at Colonial Downs and a close third in an allowance at Saratoga.

Putonyerdancinshuz and Hunting Point, both 12-1 on the track's morning line, are intriguing pedigree plays.

Putonyerdancinshuz, from the high-percentage barn of Ramon Preciado, is a half-brother to All Dolled Up, who won last month's Mrs. Penny Stakes on turf at Philadelphia Park, and Garden Dance, who finished second over Delaware's turf course in the 2002 Denise Rhudy.

Hunting Print's best winning Beyer on grass is a 72, and he was soundly beaten by Diabolical in the off-the-turf Stanton on July 22. As a full brother to Art Fan, a five-time winner on grass with earnings of $311,999, Hunting Print should improve on turf as he matures.

Miraculous Miss resumes training

Klesaris reported that his 3-year-old filly Miraculous Miss is progressing nicely after recuperating from cuts and bruises sustained when she flipped in the gate just before the start of the Acorn at Belmont in early June. She needed stitches in her right hind fetlock and above her left eye, and she bruised a cannon bone in the incident.

Miraculous Miss has worked four furlongs twice recently at the Fair Hill Training Center, including a breeze in 47 seconds on Aug. 1.

"It will be a couple of more works that she has to go through successfully," Klesaris said when asked about when Miraculous Miss would be ready to race again. "We are bringing her along slowly, but hopefully we will be looking for something possibly towards the early part of September."