09/18/2007 11:00PM

Barastraight in softer spot

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Having kept some elite company lately, Barastraight should find things a little more to his liking Friday when he drops into a third-level allowance race at Belmont Park. The $60,000 race is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Widener turf course.

In his last three starts, Barastraight has faced the likes of Doctor Dino, Silver Tree, and Sunriver. Doctor Dino and Sunriver ran one-two in the Grade 1 Man o' War last out, and Silver Tree won the Fourstardave at Saratoga.

Barastraight, meanwhile, has had his physical issues, which trainer Robert Ribaudo believes he has ironed out. Barastraight came out of his last-place finish to Sunriver in the Bowling Green Handicap here in July with a respiratory problem that is now cleared up.

"He's been more baffling to us than anything," Ribaudo said. "He trains better than he runs. We sort of have a handle on him now."

Barastraight won three straight races to begin his career, after which owner Marc Keller purchased him privately. The horse's first start for Keller came in the French Derby, where he finished a disappointing 13th. The decision was made to keep him in Europe for a few more races before brining him to the United States during the winter.

Barastraight did not winter that well in Florida. When he made it to the races on June 20 at Belmont, he wasn't fully cranked, according to Ribaudo, and finished fourth behind Silver Tree.

Off that effort, Ribaudo said he went into the Bowling Green with some confidence, but after the race he noticed the respiratory issues. Friday's allowance, which also carries an optional claiming tag of $75,000, is the shortest distance Barastraight has run since he won his first starts at a mile.

Cornelio Velasquez, the leading rider at Saratoga and thus far here as well, has the call aboard Barastraight from post 6.

Ribaudo said he was hoping there would be ample pace in this race, and there appears to be just that with Ide Rejoice, Tricky Causeway, and Thorn Song in the field. Thorn Song has won all three of his starts on turf.

National Captain, a South African-bred, made a smashing North American debut, winning a one-mile, second-level allowance race at Saratoga last month for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Real Quality ran two races over this course in the spring that make him competitive with these and will also appreciate a solid pace. He is part of a Tom Albertrani-trained entry that includes Cosmic Kris.