04/21/2005 12:00AM

Castledale should be set for his best


SAN MATEO, Calif. - When Castledale and Terroplane last met, they were promising 2-year-olds making their U.S. debuts in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes.

Now 4-year-olds, they renew their rivalry in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 on turf at Bay Meadows.

Since Castledale defeated Terroplane in the Generous, he has pulled off a 30-1 upset in the Santa Anita Derby, finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, and returned from a subsequent layoff to run three better-than-looked races this year.

"The first race, with the [foot] problems he'd had, we entered to give him a tightener," said Castledale's trainer, Jeff Mullins, referring to the colt's fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Fernando. Next came a start in the Grade 2 Strub.

"The next race, he got locked up with Rock Hard Ten and made a huge sustained run," Mullins said of the Strub. "He's only got a quarter to eighth of a mile run in him. You can't make him run three-eighths or five-sixteenths and expect to finish.

His most recent race, a March 17 optional claimer at Santa Anita, ended in a loss to Red Fort by a head.

"He was trapped at the quarter pole all the way home last time," Mullins said. "The horse that beat us had a lot of momentum on us."

With Castledale's foot problems, Mullins is happy to concentrate on the turf for now. Owner Frank Lyons said that going on the Kentucky Derby trail last year was never in his original plans for Castledale, an Irish-bred son of Arc winner Peintre Celebre.

"I would never have thought he could handle the dirt," Lyons said. "After the Generous, he was supposed to work, but they canceled turf works. Jeff called and said his [dirt] work was unbelievable. When he worked back on dirt, I went over to see him. He worked so well that Julie Krone said she'd worked him and Halfbridled, and said she hoped she wouldn't have to choose between the two."

Castledale should be set for his best, and he will have to be, because Terroplane is coming into the race off a pair of sharp allowance efforts. The last was a victory on April 8 at Santa Anita, where Terroplane stalked early and finished strongly to win going away.

While the two Southern California invaders appear tough, Adreamisborn, who just edged Night Bokbel in the Grade 3 Stanford Breeders' Cup Handicap here, can't be ignored. He is 3-1-1 in five starts on the Bay Meadows turf.