02/14/2007 1:00AM

Aspiring brings Arnold back to Big A


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When trainer Rusty Arnold announced last fall that he was pulling out of New York after more than two decades of stabling here, he said that he would come back for selected races.

"We can't survive without New York racing," Arnold said last September.

The first New York race of 2007 that Arnold has selected to participate in is Saturday's $65,000 Dearly Precious Stakes, in which he will run the well-bred but lightly raced Aspiring.

Purchased out of the 2005 September Keeneland yearling sale for $400,000, Aspiring is a daughter of Seeking the Gold out of the Mr. Prospector mare Lassie's Legacy. Lassie's Legacy is a half-sister to classic winners A.P. Indy and Summer Squall.

Aspiring has started only twice, finishing third in a five-furlong maiden race at Ellis Park last August before winning a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race over Turfway Park's Polytrack surface on Sept. 20. According to Arnold, Aspiring had a tender shin that needed attention. She has been training forwardly this winter including a best-of-38 half-mile breeze in 47.60 seconds last Saturday at the Palm Meadows training center.

"I just like the way she trained this winter; she's grown up a lot," Arnold said Wednesday by phone from Palm Meadows. "I think she's got quite a future. She's pretty talented. I think she wants to go a little further - this still won't be her best - but this was a place to get her going. I think she's talented enough to run with these horses. I think she's a better horse than she was when she broke her maiden."

Aspiring was scheduled to arrive by van at Belmont Park on Wednesday.

Arnold has tabbed Shaun Bridgmohan to ride Aspiring in the Dearly Precious.

Others pointing to the six-furlong race are Golden Dreamer, Hungarian Boatbaby, Luxury Class, Special Dream, and Thunder Sword.

Another setback for Ferocious Fires

First, it was a foot injury. Now, the undefeated New York-bred Ferocious Fires is dealing with a hind ankle injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the winter.

"Big picture, he's going to be fine, but he's out until the spring" trainer Tony Dutrow said. "Not anything operable, just needs some healing time. It might be a slight fracture there, just time is what [Dr. Larry] Bramlage said. Probably not a lot to it, just going to take care of him properly. We'll let him have a little break right now and hopefully we'll be ready to go all summer and fall."

Ferocious Fires, a son of Lite the Fuse, had won all five of his starts, including an overnight stakes last fall. He was scratched out of a late December allowance race due to a foot bruise, and Dutrow had hoped to have him back for Sunday's $65,000 Hollie Hughes stakes before this most recent setback.

The Hollie Hughes is run at six furlongs and is restricted to New York-breds.

Papua, who won the Hollie Hughes three straight years beginning in 2003, is nominated again and is expected to run. Also targeting the Hollie Hughes are Introspect, Scary Bob, Stonewood, and Touchdown Kid.

Introspect, second to Big Apple Daddy in this race last year, is the 118-pound co-highweight.

Meanwhile, Dutrow plans to be represented in this weekend's other two stakes - with Hungarian Boatbaby in the $65,000 Dearly Precious for older fillies and mares and with the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes winner Bill Place in Monday's Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Race 3 Friday is redrawn

Wednesday's card, canceled by inclement weather, was moved to Friday with one slight alteration. Because trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. began serving a suspension on Thursday, the third race - in which he had entered City Attraction - had to be redrawn by order of the stewards. Juan Rodriguez, Dutrow's New York assistant, will be the listed trainer of City Attraction, who is also entered in Thursday's third race.

The speedy Start of Trieste, who looked well drawn on the rail on Wednesday, had the most dramatic post change as he will now break from the outside. Unigold, originally in post 5, now has the rail.

Injured Arroyo not ready to return

Norberto Arroyo Jr., who was involved in an ugly-looking spill on Feb. 3, will likely not return until next weekend, his agent, Jose Amy, said Wednesday.

Though Arroyo was not found to have a specific injury, he said last week that he felt very sore and wanted to make sure he was completely healthy before riding again. Amy said that Arroyo wants to work a few horses before riding in the afternoon. "Probably next weekend, not this weekend," Amy said of Arroyo's return.

* Agent Rob Whitlock has taken the book of veteran Jean-Luc Samyn.