03/02/2006 12:00AM

Capuano brothers square off in Horatius

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Jim McCue / Maryland Jockey Club
Great Seneca, wiring the Dancing Count on Jan. 1, is 3 for 3 in his career.

Great Seneca, wiring the Dancing Count on Jan. 1, is 3 for 3 in his career.

A pair of confirmed front-runners trained by the Capuano brothers will attempt to lock horns without dueling each other into defeat in Saturday's $75,000 Horatius Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters at Laurel Park.

Great Seneca, trained by Gary Capuano, is seeking his fourth victory in as many starts. To do so, he will have to prove he can outrun Rainbow Inthestorm, an equally speedy sprinter trained by Gary's older brother Dale.

Rainbow Inthestorm has been in front through the first half-mile of all five of his starts, including an 8 1/4-length victory in his 3-year-old debut against high-priced optional claimers on Feb. 19.

Great Seneca has also started just once in 2006, wiring six rivals in the Dancing Count on New Year's Day. The six-furlong Horatius is a half-furlong longer than Great Seneca has run in his career.

"We've been waiting for a sprint stakes," Gary Capuano said. "He's not quite ready to stretch out, so the six-furlong distance is perfect. We gave him a bit of a breather after his last start, primarily due to shipping restrictions."

Great Seneca prepped for the Horatius by breezing three furlongs in 34.60 seconds at the Bowie Training Center on Wednesday.

Recent maiden winner Eagle Head could also be involved in a fight for the early lead. In his career debut on Feb. 8, Eagle Head drew off to a six-length win.

Sprinkle of Gold, could also be dangerous making his first start since winning a stakes restricted to Massachusetts-breds at Suffolk Downs last November.

Although Sprinkle of Gold has gone wire to wire in his last two starts, he won his maiden by stalking the early pace and could benefit if all the early speed horses burn themselves out.

Ah Day has also been learning to rate. A well-beaten second by Great Seneca two races ago, Ah Day cuts back to a sprint after taking the lead six furlongs into a one-mile allowance a month ago. His trainer, King Leatherbury, shows a return on investment of $4.51 with horses moving from routes to sprints.