01/06/2011 1:24PM

Aggie Engineer will have company up front in San Pasqual

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BENOIT PHOTO
Aggie Engineer stole the Native Diver setting slow fractions, but may have to rate in Saturday's San Pasqual.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Aggie Engineer was able to control a slow pace when leading from start to finish in last month’s Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park, but his trainer, Paddy Gallagher, knows the chances are remote of a similar scenario unfolding on Saturday in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita.

The potential lack of pace in the race prompted Julio Canani to enter the free-running Ryehill Dreamer, with jockey Garrett Gomez, in the San Pasqual, and caused Bob Baffert to enter a second horse, Red Door Drive, to help assist another Arnold Zetcher-owned entrant, the late-running Spurrier. That sets up an intriguing dash to the first turn in the 1 1/16-mile race, with Aggie Engineer breaking from the rail in the six-horse field.

“I suppose Gomez will send his horse,” Gallagher said Thursday morning at Santa Anita while perusing the past performances. “I think my horse can sit off the pace if he needs to, like he did in his race before last.”

Aggie Engineer relinquished the early lead in a money-allowance at Hollywood Park’s Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 22 before re-rallying to win. On Saturday, he will be seeking his third straight victory with jockey Joe Talamo, who has finished in the money each of the five times he has ridden Aggie Engineer.

“Talamo seems to get along with him,” Gallagher said. “The horse has done well since Del Mar. And he worked real well here the other day,” Gallagher added, referring to a six-furlong drill on Sunday in 1:12.60 that was the day’s best at the distance.

Ryehill Dreamer figures to make the early lead, being as Canani insists the horse can’t be held back. He will be racing on dirt for the first time.

The possibility of a more realistic pace should help the likes of Spurrier and, especially, Dakota Phone, whose late runs were hindered in the Native Diver.

Spurrier did rally for second in the Native Diver, his first start in more than two months.

Dakota Phone was favored in the Native Diver following his upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but he never mounted a rally, finishing fourth. Though he has raced 33 times, the San Pasqual will mark only his fourth start on dirt, on which he is 1 for 3. He is 0 for 11 in main track races at Santa Anita, all on synthetic surfaces.