02/15/2007 12:00AM

Better luck next time for Mach Ride?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The old saying "If it wasn't for bad luck he'd have no luck at all" could be the new motto for Mach Ride, a talented sprinter who has encountered nothing but bad luck since his fourth-place finish behind Henny Hughes in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes last summer at Saratoga.

Even trainer Steve Standridge would be the first to admit Mach Ride would not have beaten Henny Hughes in the King's Bishop. But he and most anyone else who watched the race must think Mach Ride would have finished second had he not stumbled leaving the gate and again while in tight quarters when advancing strongly on the turn.

Fate wasn't any better for Mach Ride in his 3-year-old finale in the Grade 3 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland, when he wound up in a suicidal pace battle over a track that was deadly for horses on the front end throughout the meet. Nor did Mach Ride have much luck in his 2007 debut here, in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector, when he raced in tight quarters from between horses for much of the trip before getting nipped in the final stride for second by High Finance - while beaten only 1 1/4 lengths for the win by Kelly's Landing.

Standridge probably figured Mach Ride's luck couldn't get any worse as he prepared to board a flight for Southern California to join his colt for the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 27. But then his cell phone rang, and he was informed Mach Ride was sore with what eventually was diagnosed as an abscess in his right front foot.

"He popped the abscess the day after he arrived out there, and as a result we had to scratch from the race," said Standridge. "He was really doing well, and I expected him to run big in the Sunshine Millions."

Mach Ride, who won his first four starts before suffering his first setback at the hands of Too Much Bling in the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes, indicated that he's over the effects of his injury by working a half-mile in 48.60 seconds at Calder on Thursday. The drill was the second fastest of 21 at the distance that morning.

"I caught him galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.20 and he wasn't tired at all, so I don't think he lost that much fitness while recuperating," said Standridge.

Standridge is pointing Mach Ride for the Grade 2 Richter Scale on March 3.

"I wish the race was at 6 1/2 furlongs instead of seven, and he had another race under his belt," he said. "There's not much we can do about it now.

"This horse has had nothing but bad luck since the summer, and it's certainly about due for a change."

Motion wonders how good Longley might be

Trainer Graham Motion says it's about time he found out where he stands with his promising but lightly raced 3-year-old Longley - although it doesn't look like he's going to find out in south Florida.

Motion said Longley, an impressive maiden winner in his career debut at Saratoga and a good third launching his 3-year-old campaign here earlier this month, will likely make his next start either in the Gotham at Aqueduct or the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. Both races are on March 10.

"I've got to find out what we've got with this colt," said Motion. "I'd like to keep him here for the Fountain of Youth but I don't want to stretch him out to a mile and one-eighth just yet, considering he hasn't been further than seven furlongs. And I don't want to wait until the Tampa Bay Derby [on March 17]."

Motion was pleased with Longley's 3-year-old debut, even if it was in defeat.

"It was a tough heat and everyone came out of there with decent numbers," he said.

Longley, by Seeking the Gold, received a career-best 91 Beyer for his third-place finish behind Spin Master and Soaring By on Feb. 3.

* Chatain worked a half-mile in a 51 seconds at Palm Meadows on Thursday. It was his first work since finishing fourth behind Horse of the Year Invasor in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

* Jockey Manny Aguilar was taken to Memorial East Hospital complaining of leg pain after being dropped by his mount Buddha's Pleasure while walking onto the track before to Thursday's third race. Buddha's Pleasure ran off and was scratched.