04/04/2002 12:00AM

Castle Gandolfo to try dirt


Castle Gandolfo will be the sole Aidan O'Brien-trained runner in the Fosters International Trial Stakes at Lingfield Saturday now that Johannesburg will be kept at home for Sunday's Gladness Stakes at The Curragh.

A seven-length winner of the one-mile Group 3 Beresford Stakes in his second start at the Curragh last October, Castle Gandolfo has since been second in a pair of Group 1 contests, the one-mile Racing Post Trophy and the 1 1/4-mile Criterium de Saint-Cloud. The Fosters International, a one-mile dirt allowance worth 50,000 pounds ($71,800) will be his first start of the season. It will also be his only prep for the Kentucky Derby, which O'Brien calls "a definite possibility" for him.

Created by Lingfield Park in an effort to attract Johannesburg, the Fosters-International will now serve as a test of Castle Gandolfo's ability to handle dirt.

Final entries for the race were to be drawn Friday morning. Among the possible challengers is Kepler, a Spinning World colt out of Perfect Arc who took a six-furlong maiden in his only start last November. Gold Point, third in a 1 1/4-mile turf allowance at Kempton last Saturday, and Prince Tulum, the winner of 1 1/16-mile maiden on dirt at Wolverhampton on March 18, are also possibilities.