11/14/2002 12:00AM

X Country looks best in Schaefer Mile


ANDERSON, Ind. - Saturday's $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile drew a field of 10 older runners that may prove to be the deepest in the race's three-year history.

X Country rates a slight edge off his strong second to Tenpins in the Grade 3 Fayette Handicap at Keeneland last month. Before that he captured the Fall Handicap at Mountaineer for his third win of the year. Jeff Johnston will be in to ride X Country, trained by Jack Fuchs.

Three-year-old M B Sea turned in a strong late run to be fourth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Perfect Drift, in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby at 47-1. The Dale Romans-trained M B Sea rebounded with a 4 1/2-length win over allowance company at Churchill Downs and is on the improve.

Trainer Pete Vestal sends out Crafty Shaw off a well-beaten third in the Fayette. Crafty Shaw has three stakes wins this year, including the Diplomat Way at Fair Grounds and the Essex at Oaklawn. His latest win came on Sept. 28 in the Fall Championship at Turfway Park.

A strong pace looks like it could develop, with Twilight Road, Slider, Strike Reality, and Cool N Collective in the mix. Twilight Road captured the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill on Oct. 27 and has raced near the lead in most of his starts.

Slider sprinted in his last three starts for trainer Joe Woodard but hasn't won since last May.

Cool N Collective, trained by Dennis Manning, has been on or near the pace in all five of his races this year, including runner-up finishes in the Lexington Park Stakes at Laurel and the Elgin at Woodbine.

Strike Reality, coupled in the wagering with Dirty Mike for trainer Stanley Roberts, has been running mostly in optional claiming company at Louisiana Downs.

* Indiana-bred colts and geldings run Saturday in the $70,000 Indiana Futurity at six furlongs. Jessica's Best, second in the Hillsdale Stakes on Oct. 5, and Eye You, an 8 3/4-length maiden winner, should vie for favoritism in the field of 11.

* Following last weekend's Ladies' Night, Hoosier has tabbed this Saturday Guys' Night Out. Admission is free and there will be a drawing held for a pair of reclining chairs. The Bud Girls and Jack Daniels Girls will be at the track for the evening along with local radio personality Laura Steele. There will also be motorcycles on display.