Unlike many in the local media, we are not down on New York-breds. But todays division of the New York Stallion Stakes, Spectacular Bid division for males, is a lame excuse for a weekend stakes race at Belmont Park. Spectacular Bid deserved better than to be sacrileged by this group.

The most likely winner should come from one of three betting interests: The Gary Contessa entry of Stunt Man and Solid Strike, coupled at 5-2, Good Prospect (3-1) and Smash Em Sammy (7-2). All have weaknesses.

Solid Strike was a good second under these conditions in the Sleepy Hollow here as a two-year-old. He comes up to this nicely off graduating distances for his third start following a layoff. Channing Hill is his regular rider.

Mate Stunt Man comes off a career best performance figure and returns on relatively short rest, 24 days. You could consider him a bounce candidate, or a fast horse setting the table for his mate, or a horse that could bounce and still win. Backing the entry is the percentage play.

Good Prospect comes off a strong effort on the turf and has a competitive dirt figure to go back to at a mile and 70 yards. Not ideal, but he just might be improving. Johnny Velazquez must think so; he rides him back this afternoon.

Smash Em Sammy has earned good performance figures with consistency, which is more than we can say for his main rivals here, but he is unproven at a mile. What to do?

Take either or both halves of the entry to win, at no lower than 2-1, and key them first and second in exactas and trifectas with the other two. Its the better short-price than long-face

Running Totals: (34) 15-8-7 Return: $82.30 (win selections only)