06/22/2007 12:00AM

What a Tale capable backup in Mike Lee


ELMONT, N.Y. - The absence of the undefeated Bustin Stones may have removed some of the style from Sunday's $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont Park, but there is still plenty of substance among the six New York-bred 3-year-olds in the race.

The Mike Lee, run at seven furlongs, kicks off the Big Apple Triple. The series also includes the $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 14 and the $150,000 Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 22. A $250,000 bonus will be awarded to the owner of a horse that wins all three races

Though he won't have Bustin Stones to run, trainer Bruce Levine still will have the likely favorite in What a Tale. A son of Tale of the Cat, What a Tale won a first-level New York-bred allowance race by 7 3/4 lengths May 19. After dueling inside of two horses early, What a Tale ran away from second-choice Premium Wine in the stretch while running seven furlongs in 1:23.58. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

"He trained good; he ran the way he trained," said Levine, who took over the colt's training about four weeks earlier. "The only negative was it started to rain 30 to 40 minutes before the race and the track got a little quicker, so I'm not sure it was a completely true race number-wise, time-wise."

What a Tale, who figures to be on or near the lead, will break from the rail under Eibar Coa.

Berry Bound, a son of Boundary trained by Michael Gorham, has won his last two races on the front end, including a first-level allowance race here on June 9.

"Impressive," Gorham said of that race. "Ramon [Dominguez] had said when he broke his maiden at Delaware he got to waiting on horses and he said he did it again a little bit that day."

Dominguez has a prior commitment Sunday, so Edgar Prado will ride Berry Bound.

Chief's Lake won the Sleepy Hollow by four lengths in October and finished third behind Bustin Stones in his season debut here on May 9.

"He grabbed a quarter that day, he needed the race, and he ran into a monster," said Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.