05/12/2005 12:00AM

Watch Vangelis come flying late


NEW YORK - The Saturday between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness features a fairly busy national stakes schedule, topped by the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Lone Star Derby.

The $350,000 Murray, the richest race in the country Saturday, is one of three stakes on the Hollywood card. The others are the Mervyn LeRoy and Los Angeles Times handicaps, each worth $150,000.

The Lone Star Derby has a $300,000 purse, and with a full field it promises to offer plenty of betting value.

Jim Murray Memorial

In relatively paceless turf marathons such as this one, the deciding factor is often which horse has the best closing kick. Vangelis may have been denied in his four starts in this country last year, but he demonstrated a powerful finish in each of them, and is the pick to get up in time.

When he was fourth in the Whittingham last June, Vangelis gained 5 1/2 lengths in the final quarter-mile, meaning he went his final quarter in about 22.20 seconds, which is excellent. Vangelis gained nearly six lengths in the final furlong of the Eddie Read, translating to a final eighth in approximately 10.40, which is really flying. Vangelis was beaten only 4 1/2 lengths by Powerscourt and just three lengths by subsequent Man o' War Stakes winner Magistretti when fifth in the Arlington Million, in which he went his final quarter in around 23.20. And when he was a close third in the Clement Hirsch at Oak Tree, he went his final quarter in 23.

This will be the first start for Vangelis since the Hirsch last October, but the layoff is not a concern. Because of the slow-paced nature of turf racing, turf horses are able to produce top efforts off layoffs more frequently than dirt horses. Secondly, he is trained by Bobby Frankel, who has outstanding statistics with layoff horses. Lastly, Vangelis won a Group 2 stakes at Longchamp last year off a five-month absence, so he has a history of firing fresh.

Lone Star Derby

Awesome Twist, who won his two starts since getting Lasix by seven and six lengths, may prove to be a very nice horse. But this is his first attempt in a stakes race, and his first race around two turns, and he will likely be an unacceptable underlay.

I'm going with Real Dandy, who may be a nice price despite coming out of better races, and whose closing style fits well in a race with plenty of early speed. Real Dandy ran well when a rallying second three starts back in the Risen Star, snaring the place from Storm Surge, who will probably be one of the favorites in this race. Real Dandy finished behind Storm Surge in the subsequent Louisiana Derby, but he had no chance to mount an effective rally over a track that was strongly biased toward speed. Real Dandy made his last start against Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby and was beaten only a length for second.

Genuine Risk Handicap

It may sound simplistic, but when trainer Bob Baffert's horses work fast, they usually run well. Friendly Michelle ships in for this sporting a series of sharp recent workouts, and is the pick to score in her first start of the year.

Two of the best performances in Friendly Michelle's career came at Belmont. The first was a close third in the Acorn while going a distance (one mile) that was probably a bit too far for her liking. The other was a decisive score in the Grade 1 Prioress last July. The Prioress was run at the same six-furlong distance as this event, and just like she did in that race, Friendly Michelle figures to sit a good outside stalking trip.


Belmont Park: Genuine Risk Handicap
Fillies and mares, 3 and up, 6 furlongs

Approximate post: Eastern-4:45 p.m., Central-3:45 p.m., Mountain-2:45 p.m., Pacific-1:45 p.m.; Elmont, N. Y., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 61 degrees

1Elusive Diva106919810-1
4Forest Music10695745-1
5Forty Moves921068410-1
6Sensibly Chic98941088-1
7Bank Audit811019210-1
8Friendly Michelle4165983-1
10Smokey Glacken8589937-2

Odds by Art Gropper

Lone Star Park: Walmac Lone Star Derby
3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles

Approximate post: E-6:19 p.m., C-5:19 p.m., M-4:19 p.m., P-3:19 p.m.; Grand Prairie, Tx., forecast: Chance of thunderstorms, 79 degrees

2Real Dandy9390875-1
4Thor's Echo8692865-1
5Barometer Rising89725620-1
6General Charley94848415-1
7Storm Surge8791864-1
8Southern Africa9088888-1
9Awesome Twist9489519-2
10Yes He's a Pistol92888920-1
11Forever Wild79856920-1
12Magna Graduate8788906-1

DRF odds

Hollywood Park: Jim Murray Mem. Handicap
3 and up, 1 1/2 miles, turf

Approximate post: E-6:53 p.m., C-5:53 p.m., M-4:53 p.m., P-3:53 p.m.; Inglewood, Ca., forecast: Sunny, 70 degrees

1Deputy Lad101979810-1
2T. H. Approval10298847-2
7Continental Red9388686-1
9Runaway Dancer98849012-1

Coupled: Pellegrino and Sarafan; odds by Michael Hammersly