Seven Strong Sprinters for Maryland BCH

Six of the seven horses headed postward for the grade III Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap are already stakes winners, so the race should prove a compelling appetizer for the main course to follow: the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The $200,000 Maryland BCH has drawn 3-year-old Flame Thrower and 4-year-old Explicit from California, 5-year-old Istintaj from New York, and 6-year-old Crucible from Canada, plus a group of New England runners.

The race is the first since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) for Flame Thrower, winner of last year's Del Mar Futurity (gr. II). He is facing some seasoned competitors. Among them is his co-favorite, Disco Rico, who has won three stakes races this year alone. In the April 7 Fire Plug Stakes, Disco Rico won by 3 1/2 lengths under Harry Vega, who also has the mount Saturday.

The field for the race, including the morning line odds, jockey, and weight, from the rail: 1) Delaware Township, 5-1 (Pat Day, 116). 2) Istintaj, 10-1 (Corey Nakatani, 116). 3) Flame Thrower, 5-2 (Jerry Bailey, 113). 4) Crucible, 4-1 (Roberto Alvarado Jr., 113). 5) Just Call Me Carl, 6-1 (Travis Dunkelberger, 115). 6) Explicit, 10-1 (Gary Stevens, 117). 7) Disco Rico, 5-2 (Harry Vega, 5-2).