06/01/2005 11:00PM

'Acpen' takes on tough foe


ALBANY, Calif. - When Mister Acpen was last in the Bay Area, he scored an impressive wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 27, 2003.

Adreamisborn wasn't even in northern California yet. He was, at that time, a 4-year-old maiden. By the time Adreamisborn won his first race, at age 5, Mister Acpen had gone nearly halfway around the world to run in the Hong Kong Mile and nearly died.

The two have traveled widely divergent paths but meet Saturday in the $100,000 Rolling Green Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Upon his return from Hong Kong, Mister Acpen tested positive for a blood disease called pyroplasmosis, was placed in quarantine, and was nearly euthanized.

He underwent chemotherapy, and the treatment nearly killed him.

, 7, finally returned to the barn of his trainer, Kristin Mulhall, this January and ran sixth in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park on April 30.

"I didn't think I'd ever see him again, but we ended up finally getting him back," Mulhall said.

The Rolling Green is something of a stepping-stone for Mister Acpen. Mulhall said she wants him at his best for the Eddie Read at Del Mar on July 24.

Mister Acpen will have to be at his best on Saturday to beat Adreamisborn.

Since joining Jerry Hollendorfer's barn, has compiled a record of 15-7-4-3, and he's never failed to pick up a check. He's won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile and Grade 3 Stanford Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Two races back, he lost by a half-length to multiple Grade 1 winner Castledale in the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap. Castledale returned to win the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood on Monday.

"If a hole hadn't opened for [Castledale], we would have won," said Russell Baze, who rode Adreamisborn, of the San Francisco BC. "From the first time I worked him, you could tell the talent and ability were there. It was just a question if you could get it out of him in the afternoon."

Since the San Francisco BC, Adreamisborn won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields.

"I made sure he won, but there was a lot left," said Baze.