12/09/2004 12:00AM

Wire Bound gets distance he likes


NEW YORK - The biggest event Saturday is the $1 million Louisiana Champions Day card at Fair Grounds - seven stakes for Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds (and three for Quarter Horses), headed by the $150,000 Champions Day Classic.

Statebreds also have the spotlight Saturday at Pimlico, where Maryland-bred fillies and mares will run in the $100,000 Geisha Handicap. Elsewhere, the headliner at Hollywood Park is the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap, while 3-year-old turf specialists have an opportunity at Calder Race Course in the $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes.

Pete Axthelm Stakes

In October, I picked Wire Bound in this space in the Calder Derby. He lost, but that was a tougher spot than this is, and I can certainly go back to him again.

The Calder Derby, in which Wire Bound finished fifth to Eddington, was run at 1 1/8 miles, as was his most recent start, the Bonnie Heath against tough older Florida-breds, and the Kent last June. Those three races are the only sub-par ones that Wire Bound has run on turf. His other four turf starts were solid, and they were all at shorter than 1 1/8 miles. On Saturday, Wire Bound goes 7 1/2 furlongs. Wire Bound won 3 of the 4, all at Calder, including a small stakes three starts back, in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99, and another stakes last May, in which he received a 98 Beyer. A repeat of either one of those Beyers would give this field fits.

Louisiana Champions Day Classic

I like Prince Slew, and he may offer value since he finished sixth as the favorite in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs last time out in what may have been a textbook bounce.

Prince Slew may have come up empty at Delta because of his win at Louisiana Downs two starts back. He was coming off a 5 1/2-month layoff and, despite winning big, he scored in driving fashion while falling 1 point shy of his career best Beyer. That was probably a more draining effort than it appeared, and it showed in his last start.

Prince Slew is good enough to win, as he was a narrowly beaten second in this race last year to Spritely Walker. Spritely Walker is back, but he was in sharper form when he won this last year. He comes into this race off a nine-month absence.

I also would use Screen Idol in exotic wagers if he starts. Although he was a surprise when he won a stakes on the turf in his last start, three horses who finished behind him came back to finish one-two-three in Delta's Gold Cup. Screen Idol is cross-entered in the Champions Day Turf.

Geisha Handicap

I'm not exactly sure how to pronounce Chrusciki's name, but she has an excellent chance to take this field, perhaps in front-running fashion.

Chrusciki's early foot gives her an advantage in a race that lacks early speed, and her improved fourth last time out in a small stakes at The Meadowlands suggests that she may be returning to the excellent form she held from late April until early August. In that six-race span, Chrusciki won four races and was second twice. She Beyered over 90 three times during that run, including a 95 Beyer when she won the Lady's Secret at Monmouth, and those kind of figures are better than what her opponents have been able to muster on a consistent basis.