Montbrook vs. Secret Odds.
Who is the faster horse?
Mike Luzzi is the only jockey who has ridden both 3-year-olds.
But he is taking the diplomatic route going into Sunday's matchup when Maryland's two quickest horses meet for the first time in the Frank J. De Francis Dash.
"Very, very close" is how Luzzi describes the ability of the two colts.
Luzzi started riding Secret Odds this spring and describes his 11-length victory in his last start in the Sewickley Stakes at Belmont Park as "really only a workout." The horse earned a 108 speed rating, highest in his career.
Luzzi rides Secret Odds in Sunday's $300,000 sprint. Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, stable jockey for Israel Cohen, is expected once again to be on Montbrook.
"I like the way Secret Odds rates, but then again Montbrook rated well for me the one time I rode him [winning the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes at Pimlico on opening day]. They both have similar styles," Luzzi said.
Don't expect either one of the horses or jockeys to take back off the pace in Sunday's race.
Both animals run best on the lead. To make it more interesting, there are some other quick invaders like the mare Parisian Flight, the filly Meafara and Northern California ship-in, Bolulight, who also have exceptional early speed.
"A lot will depend on post positions [drawn Friday]," Luzzi said.
But he is staying noncommittal on the outcome. "I guess we'll find out Sunday," he said.
Luzzi is the only jockey with a mount in the race who has won the De Francis Dash. He won the inaugural running at Pimlico in 1990 with Northern Wolf. Last year, he rode favored Sunny Sunrise, but finished eighth.
If nine horses start, it will be the second largest De Francis field.
There were seven starters in 1990, six in 1991 and 12 last year.
In addition to Luzzi and Ladner, two other Maryland jockeys have De Francis mounts. Mark Johnston will be aboard Parisian Flight, who was ridden by the injured Edgar Prado when she was the runner-up last year. Larry Reynolds will be on Flaming Emperor.
Other jockeys who are listed to ride are Julie Krone (Lion Cavern), Alex Solis (Now Listen), Ron Hansen (Bolulight) and Juvenal Diaz (Meafara).
Owner Robert Perez or trainer Alfredo Callejas has yet to name a rider for Senor Speedy.
Lenny Hale, Laurel/Pimlico vice president of racing, said yesterday that he has still not heard if a 10th starter, either Friendly Lover or Birdonthewire, is De Francis-bound.