03/21/2007 11:00PM

After beating bias, Cherokee Country tries going long


On a day when speed dominated the inner track at Aqueduct, Cherokee Country came from seven lengths behind with a quarter-mile remaining to win a six-furlong sprint.

Cherokee Country's against-the-grain victory on March 14 and his trainer's knack for stretching out horses stamp him a dangerous contender in the $100,000 Private Terms on Saturday at Laurel Park.

The one-mile race drew a field of 10 3-year-olds and is the first leg of this week's Magna 5.

Cherokee Country was claimed out of a win against maidens for $12,500 by trainer Ramon Preciado on behalf of Victory Thoroughbreds last November. In four starts since then, all in 2007, he has won three times. He comes off a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure in his off-the-pace win at Aqueduct on a program in which six of the nine winners went wire to wire.

Preciado, based at Philadelphia Park, has won with 16 of 44 horses stretching out from sprints to routes since January 2006, producing a $3 return on investment, so the move to a one-turn mile should not be viewed as a drawback for Cherokee Country.

The freshened Etude and Saratoga Lulaby, back at his best distance after a poor effort sprinting, also merit respect.

Etude, trained by Richard Small, is 2 for 2 this season, both going a mile. He has been off since Feb. 2, but shows two bullet five-furlong works and a recent one-mile breeze in preparation for this spot.

Saratoga Lulaby ran well in three consecutive one-mile races earlier this year, including a second in the Miracle Wood, before he flopped as part of an odds-on entry for trainer John Rigattieri in the March 3 Horatius at six furlongs. It's encouraging to see that Saratoga Lulaby bounced back with a bullet five-furlong work since his bad race.

Like Cherokee Country, Not for Money and Belly Rub will be stretching out to a route for the first time. Both horses have run just twice.

Not for Money came from off the pace to win his career debut at Aqueduct in January, then had some trouble at the start but still managed to finish second facing winners for the first time.

Belly Rub is based locally with trainer Dove Houghton but has gone 2 for 2 racing in New York. He is not only changing distances but facing open company after beating New York-breds.