08/21/2007 12:00AM

After Market going longer

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DEL MAR, Calif. - You know the old joke, "Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" Well, that's how trainer John Shirreffs feels about the Arlington Million. His horse After Market shipped in well and likely would have been the favorite in the race. Shirreffs said he was treated royally by the personnel at Arlington Park. Everything was in perfect order.

But persistent rain left the course soft - it was rated "good" - the kind on which After Market had a significant setback last year in the Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes at Delaware Park. So, he was scratched.

"Obviously, it was disappointing," Shirreffs said Tuesday morning at Del Mar, "but it would not have been the right thing for the horse to run him on a yielding turf course."

After Market came right home, and he's going right back to work. He'll return to action Sunday in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf. Firm turf. The kind on which After Market won the Eddie Read Handicap here on July 22 for his third straight victory.

After Market has never raced farther than 1 1/8 miles, the distance of the Eddie Read, so he is heading into uncharted water. Shirreffs believes he will handle the distance - "He starts slow and finishes fine," he said - but said Sunday's race will determine After Market's plans for the rest of the year.

"It's a step toward deciding which race he runs in in the Breeders' Cup," Shirreffs said. The choices are either the Breeders' Cup Mile on turf, or the Breeders' Cup Turf, which is at 1 1/2 miles.

After Market, who will be ridden by Alex Solis, was assigned top weight of 124 pounds for the Del Mar Handicap, six pounds more than rivals Obrigado and Runaway Dancer. Others expected for the race are Atlando, Bravo Maestro, Fitz Flag, Toasted, and possibly Caribbean.

Busy summer for Spenditallbaby

Spenditallbaby ran six days apart the first week of the meet, and she'll come back on just seven days' rest and make her fourth start of the season when she competes in the $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap on Saturday.

Barry Abrams, who trains Spenditallbaby, said he is wheeling her back because she "never got a chance to run" in last Saturday's Del Mar Oaks. Spenditallbaby was blocked badly at the top of the stretch while seemingly full of run.

"I thought we were the third- or fourth-best horse going into the race, and the only way we were going to beat those horses was to try and save ground every step and get through on the rail," Abrams said. "It just didn't work out."

The Solana Beach, at one mile on turf, is for California-bred fillies and mares. In addition to Spenditallbaby, others expected for the Solana Beach are Bai and Bai, Chelcee's Hope, Fun Logic, Gentle Charmer, Sip One for Mom, Somethinaboutlaura, and Special Heather.

Fun Logic worked six furlongs on Polytrack in 1:12 on Tuesday morning. The time was the best of five at the distance.

Sip One for Mom returns to racing

Sip One for Mom won last year's Solana Beach Handicap, her first stakes win, and a month later she suffered a career-threatening suspensory injury.

But instead of breeding her earlier this year, owner Ben Warren and trainer Jorge Gutierrez opted to give Sip One for Mom one more chance at racing and put her back in training. Sip One for Mom makes her return Saturday in the Solana Beach Handicap.

Although she has not started in nearly a year, Gutierrez is hoping she can return to stakes form.

"Is she fit enough to win?" he said. "I don't know but she's doing fantastic. She's getting stronger."

A winner of 3 of 19 starts and $219,766, Sip One for Mom was sidelined with a "small tear" in a suspensory last fall, Gutierrez said.

Through Sunday, she had had four workouts since returning to training.

"We brought her in with enough time to get her ready," Gutierrez said. "I gave her more time when I brought her in. I tack-walked her for three weeks and jogged her for about five weeks. I took a long time in getting there. She's done better than I thought she would in handling the training."

Carava has touch with Lord Albion

Lord Albion likes to win, and he likes to win for trainer Jack Carava. Three times over the past two years Carava has claimed the now 9-year-old gelding for prices ranging from $20,000 (May 2005 and June 2006) to $16,000 (June 2007). Carava has sent him out for five races. And each time, including Monday, Lord Albion has won.

His latest victory, against $16,000 claimers, was his second straight of the meet, both earned by a nose with late surges in the final yards. That ran his overall record to a glitzy 16 wins in 35 starts, all for a horse who didn't even begin his career until he was 5.

"He's a great horse to be around," Carava said Tuesday morning. "He's pretty laid back. He's one of those horses who wants to be left alone. He's friendly enough, not mean, but he likes to be left alone.

"He's had his problems. He had a hind leg fracture a couple of years ago, and when I claimed him back, he bled real bad. But he's been a fun horse to be around. And he knows where the wire is."

Lord Albion has won 4 times in 5 starts this year, all with jockey Richard Migliore.

"When he won his race before last, Migliore told me that he could feel him let up once he passed the second horse, thinking he had gotten to the front, and when he realized there was another horse in front of him, he surged again," Carava said. "He's a pro."

There were four claims in for Lord Albion on Monday. Ted H. West won the shake. That marked the seventh time in his last 13 races that Lord Albion was claimed.

E Z's Gentleman pleases connections

Ron McAnally touted E Z's Gentleman as a horse to watch before the meet began, and the 2-year-old colt ran to his trainer's hopes over the weekend with a victory against a strong field of maidens in his second start. Ellen Zetcher named the colt for her husband, owner Arnold Zetcher.

"Arnold was so happy," McAnally said. "It was like he had won the Kentucky Derby. His first race, he had a lot of trouble. He was on the rail, he broke slow, and he rushed up."

McAnally purchased E Z's Gentleman, a son of Yankee Gentleman, for Zetcher for $240,000 at the Barretts sale in March.

"John Shirreffs trained Yankee Gentleman, and he was stabled across from me at Santa Anita," McAnally said. "I would see the horse every morning. He was a good-looking horse, built like a sprinter, with a beautiful head. This horse has a lot of scope. He's tall and long-legged, but not too heavy, which I like. I liked that he was by Yankee Gentleman, and of course he's by Storm Cat."

McAnally said there is "a slight possibility" that E Z's Gentleman would come back closing day, Sept. 5, in the Grade 1, $250,000 Del Mar Futurity. If E Z's Gentleman skips that race, his next start would be at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, which begins Sept. 26.

* Jockey Aaron Gryder was suspended by Del Mar's stewards for three days, beginning Saturday, following the disqualification of his horse Private Banking in last Friday's second race. But Gryder's agent, Tony Matos, said the suspension will be appealed.

* Jockey David Flores will be in Saratoga on Saturday to ride E Z Warrior in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes.

- additonal reporting by Steve Andersen