02/28/2008 12:00AM

Daaher seeks turnaround in Stymie

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The plan had worked so beautifully last year that Kiaran McLaughlin felt compelled to try it again. In 2007, McLaughlin ran defending Horse of the Year Invasor in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park as a prep for the $6 million Dubai World Cup. Invasor won both races.

After watching Daaher end his 3-year-old campaign last year with a trio of brilliant performances, including a victory in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, McLaughlin plotted out the Donn as a prep for the World Cup. Only this time, the plan went awry as Daaher was beaten 19 1/4 lengths, putting his status for the $6 million World Cup - or the $2 million Godolphin Mile - on March 29 in doubt.

Still considering Dubai, McLaughlin has shipped Daaher from south Florida to Aqueduct for Saturday's $75,000 Stymie Handicap, which the trainer hopes serves as a confidence builder for his speedy colt.

Five horses were entered against Daaher in the Stymie, including defending Stymie winner Evening Attire, the gallant 10-year-old gelding. But the combination of his speed and the speed-favoring inner track makes Daaher a short-priced proposition in this 1 1/8-mile race.

"His style will fit that [track] fine," Pat Kelly, the trainer of Evening Attire, said of Daaher. "His A and B races are better than mine right now."

Daaher ran neither his A nor B race in the Donn. After leading the Donn field through six furlongs in 1:09.72, Daaher gave it up at the three-furlong pole and was never really asked by Mike Luzzi in the stretch as he finished seventh.

The result was a puzzler to McLaughlin, who couldn't find anything physically wrong with Daaher in a post-race examination.

"He was just blowing so hard after the race that a) he couldn't sustain that pace, or b) he wasn't fit enough to be able to handle that pace, or c) he couldn't handle the track," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said he would simply put a line through that race and hope for better on Saturday. Daaher, who will break from post 4 under Luzzi, should have an easier time making a comfortable lead on Saturday.

Temporary Saint, one of two horses entered by Bruce Levine, has some early speed, but will likely be a stalking presence under C.C. Lopez. Temporary Saint is coming off a third-level allowance win on Jan. 25, his first start for Levine.

Levine said owner Maggi Moss claimed Temporary Saint and originally sent him to Fair Grounds, but could not find a race to fill. Levine got the horse and entered him for $50,000, but scratched him for the allowance race.

"All of a sudden he turned the corner and he was going good," Levine said.

Levine feels Daaher should have been assigned more than 122 pounds and he is not certain to run both Temporary Saint and Explosive Heat, who finished second in the Ground Storm Stakes last out. Kenta Kun, third in that race, and Malibu Moonshine, second in the Stymie last year, complete the field.