06/23/2004 11:00PM

Wire Bound can fly on grass


NEW YORK - There is a stakes tripleheader Saturday at Belmont Park, and two of those stakes kick off series that will continue well into the summer.

The main event at Belmont is the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes, the first leg of the New York filly triple crown series, which continues with the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont on July 24 and concludes with the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 21. And, with the CCA Oaks wisely shortened up to 1 1/4 miles this year, there is a more realistic chance of success in sweeping this series for those with designs on it.

Meanwhile, Saturday's $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont begins OTBs' Big Apple Triple for New York bred 3-year-olds. The Big Apple Triple continues with the New York Derby on July 17 at Finger Lakes, concludes with the Albany Stakes Aug. 25 at Saratoga, and offers a $250,000 bonus for a sweep.

The other stakes at Belmont on Saturday is the $100,000 Tremont for 2-year-olds.

Three-year-old turf horses have lucrative opportunities at different ends of the country Saturday. They are the $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes at Delaware Park and the $150,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Stakes at Hollywood Park. Turf is also the venue for the headliner at Churchill Downs, which is the $150,000 Locust Grove Handicap for fillies and mares.

Finally, Saturday is Prairie State Festival Day at Arlington Park, where six stakes for Illinois-breds worth a total of $450,000 will be decided.

Here are my spotlight stakes, in order of preference:

Kent Breeders' Cup

Turf can be a great equalizer. Master David has names like Smarty Jones, Birdstone, Purge, and Tapit in his recent company lines, and he comes out of races like the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and Wood Memorial. There is, however, absolutely no guarantee that any of that will translate successfully when Master David switches from dirt to turf in this spot, if he indeed runs.

Conversely, Wire Bound would have a hard time outrunning me, let alone Master David, in a race on dirt, and I'm about as fast as a sleeping dog. But, Wire Bound, who is my pick, has been a revelation since moving to turf two starts ago. He first won an allowance race at 52-1, improving his previous best Beyer Speed Figure by 16 points, and then he really ran big in the Simply Majestic Stakes at Calder last time out. Wire Bound unleashed a very quick final five-sixteenths of a mile to win going away over an opponent who came back to win a small stakes in his next start.

Between Master David, Icy Atlantic, and Timo, and given Wire Bound's jump in class, Wire Bound should be a nice price. That's good, because a duplicate of his recent big score, and that 98 Beyer, would be good enough to win.

Mother Goose

Island Sand was beaten by Ashado in the Kentucky Oaks, but I'm going with her to gain revenge.

Island Sand acted up in the gate just before the start of the Kentucky Oaks, which caused her to miss the break. She then got knocked around between horses, and the result was Island Sand was last of 11 going into the first turn. But she made a steady advance down the backstretch and on the far turn. And despite drifting in and out in the stretch, Island Sand was beaten only a little more than a length by Ashado, who enjoyed a perfect trip. Island Sand subsequently showed what she is capable of with a better trip by winning the Acorn, and at the same time, she demonstrated she can handle the Belmont surface.

Locust Grove

Riskaverse is a strong play here, with the one drawback being that she won't be much of a price. Nevertheless, she is set up for a winning effort.

In her recent first start of the year, Riskaverse found herself on the lead in the Just a Game Stakes when no one else wanted to be there. That is not the way Riskaverse prefers to run. She will get a much more suitable trip this time tracking a pace disputed by Two Dot Slew and Sand Springs, and also figures to improve second start back off the 6 1/2-month layoff.