05/08/2008 12:00AM

Bold Ruler looks like a tough call


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin thought he had a chance to win both stakes races at Belmont Park on Saturday. But with Lieutenant Ron forced to miss the Grade 2 Peter Pan because of a foot injury, McLaughlin hopes he can salvage the day with Lucky Island, who will make his stakes debut in the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap.

McLaughlin had hopes of taking Lucky Island to Dubai for a rich stakes race in March, but those plans went awry early after Lucky Island bled in a first-level allowance race at Calder. McLaughlin then put the colt on Lasix - medication that is not permissible in Dubai - and Lucky Island responded with a pair of convincing allowance wins at Gulfstream and Aqueduct.

"He's a real serious horse, he's trained well," McLaughlin said. "This is a big step up, but he's a very nice horse, done everything right. We like him, let's see how good he is."

Handicapping the Bold Ruler, run at six furlongs, is best left until after scratches. Executive Fleet and Man of Danger are the two primary speed horses, but Linda Rice, the trainer of Executive Fleet, is toying with the idea of running in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 26 and could possibly scratch out of this.

If Executive Fleet runs, however, he will most likely be favored given his recent form. After two strong allowance victories, Executive Fleet finished a strong second to undefeated Bustin Stones in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 5. Not bad for a horse who almost didn't make it to the races because of an abscess near his heart valve when he was younger.

"Tremendous race - get beat a half-length in a Grade 1, that's fun," trainer Linda Rice said. "Would have been nicer to win by a half-length."

Rice said Executive Fleet came out of the Carter with a "wrenched stifle. . . . It took him a little while to recover. He's doing okay now."

Man of Danger could be a little quicker than Executive Fleet and is coming off good second-place finishes in the Paumonok and Toboggan handicaps. Trainer Bruce Levine said Man of Danger should benefit from being off two months as well as the prospect of a wet track.

"He's not a real durable horse," Levine said. "When you lead him over there he usually gives it to you."

Levine will also run Callmetony, who has won 14 races from 51 starts and is coming off a career-best effort winning a $100,000 claiming race on April 11. Council Member, Forefathers, and Gold and Roses complete the field.