07/02/2009 11:00PM

Asiatic Boy back on short rest


ELMONT, N.Y. - Following a dismal performance as the favorite in the Dubai World Cup in March, the multiple group stakes winner Asiatic Boy returned to form when he finished second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last month.

If able to duplicate that effort on just three weeks' rest, Asiatic Boy looms the horse to beat in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park. The Suburban tops an 11-race card that includes the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 2 Dwyer for 3-year-old colts and geldings. There also is a 45-minute autograph session with Rachel Alexandra's jockey Calvin Borel beginning at 2 p.m. Autographs are $10 each, with proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Asiatic Boy was one of the most consistent horses racing in Dubai before his 12th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup in March. After that, he was shipped to North America and transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. In the Stephen Foster, Asiatic Boy was getting a good trip until he and Einstein twice went for the same hole in the stretch and bumped. Asiatic Boy recovered to outfinish Einstein to get second behind Macho Again.

McLaughlin didn't want to wait eight weeks for the Whitney (Aug. 8 at Saratoga), so he decided to wheel Asiatic Boy back in three weeks.

"I'm definitely not happy about the three weeks, but the horse is very happy and he couldn't be doing any better," McLaughlin said.

Trainer Marty Wolfson believes the 1 1/4 miles will be better for It's a Bird than the 1 1/16 miles of the Lone Star Park Handicap, which It's a Bird won by a head over Jonesboro, who came back to win the Cornhusker Handicap. It's a Bird has the versatility to succeed from on or off the pace.

An off-the-pace trip may be in order here, with the presence of speed horses such as Finallymadeit, Cool Coal Man, and Samhoon, who was to scratch from a Friday allowance for the Suburban.

A fast pace also would enhance the chances of Dry Martini, who has been knocking on the door in several big races this year. Trainer Barclay Tagg believes Dry Martini is better if he can sit in midpack and make a run, which he should be able to do in this spot.

Stud Muffin, Rising Moon, Ready's Echo, and Real Merchant complete the field.