09/13/2006 11:00PM

Wanderin Boy the speed of the E's


ELMONT, N.Y. - It's the last Saturday of summer at Belmont's fall championship meet. The Brooklyn Breeders' Cup and Floral Park handicaps don't have major implications for their respective divisions, but drew decent-sized fields that make for good handicapping.

Looking at the Brooklyn in post order from the perspective of running style matchups - early speed (E horses), pressers (P horses), and stretch-runners (S or "sustained" horses) - we get the following:

Good Reward - In turf races with moderate fractions he's been close enough to the leaders to be classified as a P, but he's a stretch-running S on dirt.

Funny Cide - Has two wins during the past two years, and led throughout each one, setting controlled fractions in the Excelsior and the Dominion Day. In the twilight of his career, the gutsy gelding is an E.

Awesome Twist - Even stretching out from sprints, he is a late-running type if there ever was one. A confirmed S, he has been anywhere from 10 to 18 lengths behind the lead at the pace call in three starts this year.

Take the Bluff - An S on turf, but has morphed into an E in three starts on dirt. He is eligible for a second-level allowance, and probably bluffing here.

Reverberate - His best races last year, in the Peter Pan and Jim Dandy, stamp him a combination of early and presser, an E/P. He is eligible for a second-level allowance.

We Can Seek - Bothered a bit when Invasor stumbled at the break of the Whitney, and was patiently handled after that by Julien Leparoux, who looks like the second coming of Pat Day. We Can Seek gets a switch back to the more aggressive rider Eibar Coa, who had him right on top of the pace in two starts earlier this year. With Leparoux I'd label him a sustained presser (S/P), but with Coa he's probably a P.

Wanderin Boy - During the past two seasons he's won 5 of 7 starts when leading at the pace call, and is winless from three starts when denied the front. An E all the way.

Analysis: Of the four "early" horses, Wanderin Boy has a clear edge. He was outsprinted in the Whitney by Siphon City, who was coming off three wire-to-wire wins that included the Cornhusker with a 112 Beyer Speed Figure. He is quicker to the pace call than Funny Cide, while Take the Bluff and Reverberate seem overmatched on class.

We Can Seek was coming off a slow-paced route at 1 1/4 miles when unable to catch Wanderin Boy in the Pimlico Special, but rallied into traffic in midstretch of the Whitney and finished well enough to overtake Wanderin Boy at a huge price. Since then Wanderin Boy has had three workouts, but We Can Seek has had six.

The closers in the Brooklyn are two: Awesome Twist, highly suspect at the distance, and Good Reward, the lone entrant turning back from a longer route. In the Pacific Classic, Good Reward was a ground-saving second to Lava Man (who has won 9 of 10 starts in California since May of 2005, including four Grade 1 stakes), while matching his lifetime Beyer top.

If Wanderin Boy cannot hang on in a one-turn route at 1 1/8 miles, it will be either Good Reward or We Can Seek, or both, who comes to get him.

The Floral Park running-style match-ups look like this in post order:

Grecian LoverE/P

Pretty ImposingE

Great IntentionsP

For All We KnowP

Ever ElusiveP

Win McCoolE

Stormy KissE

Swap FliparooS

Indian FlareE/P

Analysis: Swap Fliparoo has improved since adding Lasix in the spring, winning 2 of 5 starts in last-to-first style, including the Grade 1 Test, in which she got an inside trip and overtook a collapsing pace through a last furlong in 14.10 seconds. The negatives are the Test got a terrible figure that was seemingly confirmed when the second-, third-, and sixth-place finishers returned to run off the board in the Victory Ride. Then, Swap Fliparoo missed a scheduled start in the Ballerina because of a minor ankle injury. The positives are that Swap Fliparoo is capable of better, having already run a triple-digit Beyer against the hard-knocking older mare Behaving Badly (a winner of 9 of 12 starts) on this track in the Genuine Risk; and, as the only true closer in a field heavily populated with early-pace types, she could be in line for another perfect setup.