10/10/2007 11:00PM

Daaher to skip BC and target Cigar Mile

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Daaher, the impressive winner of last Sunday's Grade 2 Jerome Handicap, will skip the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and instead be pointed to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Thursday.

McLaughlin felt the 19 days between the Jerome and the BC Dirt Mile was not long enough to allow Daaher to be ready to give another strong effort.

"It's quick back," McLaughlin said. "He's obviously now got to be considered a top horse. The Cigar Mile is a Grade 1 - perfect timing - not that he wouldn't have a big chance at Monmouth Park going a mile and 70 with his style of running."

Daaher, a son of Awesome Again, has won his last two starts very impressively. Both wins have come since McLaughlin added blinkers to the 3-year-old colt's equipment.

McLaughlin is hopeful that Daaher could be good enough to run in the $6 million Dubai World Cup in March.

"We'll go Cigar Mile then hopefully Dubai by way of something," McLaughlin said, mentioning the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream as one possibility.

While Daaher is out of the Breeders' Cup picture, McLaughlin said the talented 2-year-old Etched could be pre-entered in the $2 million Juvenile. Etched, a son of Forestry, won a six-furlong maiden race by 6 3/4 lengths on Sept. 29 in his debut.

"Going from a maiden six-furlong race to a Grade 1 mile and a sixteenth is a big step," McLaughlin said. "We're talking about taking a look and see. I'll know more in a day or two."

If Etched skips the Juvenile, he would most likely run in the $100,000 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct Oct. 28, McLaughlin said.

Lear's Princess works toward Distaff

At Saratoga, the McLaughlin-trained Lear's Princess, a top candidate for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, worked four furlongs in 49.22 seconds over a fast Oklahoma training track. McLaughlin said it would be her last major move for the Distaff, although she is likely to have one more easy work before the race.

"She worked very well," said McLaughlin, whose brother Neal is overseeing the filly's training. "Now that we got that work in, we'll just watch the weather. We're in great shape now."

Lear's Princess will enter the Distaff off a victory over Rags to Riches in the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 15. She also finished second to Lady Joanne in the Alabama at Saratoga.

Purse increase for Aqueduct

Purses for the upcoming Aqueduct fall meet will increase by 12 percent, New York Racing Association officials announced Thursday.

Daily average purses are projected to increase approximately $43,800, from $365,000 last year to $408,800 per day this year. The increase will run from Oct. 24 through Dec. 31, which also happens to be the last day of NYRA's current franchise.

Under the increase, open-company allowances will be worth $56,000, an increase of $10,000. New York-bred allowance races will increase by $6,000 while maiden special weight races will go up by $9,000.

NYRA president Charlie Hayward said the increase for Aqueduct keeps NYRA's commitment to pay out all money earned for purses in 2007. In previous years, some money was used for what is known as a purse cushion. Hayward said business during the current Belmont meet is up 3 percent to 4 percent.

"The increase is coming because business is good," Hayward said.

The Green Monkey tries again

The Green Monkey, who sold for a world record $16 million at a 2-year-olds in training sale last year, will make his second start Saturday at Belmont. He will break from post 4 in a 10-horse field set to go seven furlongs.

In his debut last month, The Green Monkey finished third, beaten seven lengths, as the 2-5 favorite in a six-furlong race.

Feastorfamine, Giant Deputy, and Joppa Flat's look to be the main competition for The Green Monkey.

Weather forces cancellation

NYRA officials were forced to cancel the final two races of Thursday's Belmont card due to torrential rains and a tornado warning for the area near Belmont Park.

Thursday's rains were the first for the area in a month, and for the first time all meet, races scheduled for the turf were moved to the main track. The main track had been listed fast for the first 24 days of the meet. Thursday's card started out muddy and was downgraded to sloppy by the fifth race.

The dry weather has allowed NYRA to card a record 111 turf races so far during the meet.

John Passero, director of racing surfaces, has put the temporary rails up 25 feet from the hedge on both turf courses because he said the inside part of the course was "chewed up" a little bit.

"No way it was going to handle 10 days of racing," Passero said, referring to the end of the Belmont meet.

* Commentator, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred gelding, worked four furlongs in 48 seconds Thursday morning at Saratoga. It was the fastest of 35 works at the distance. Trainer Nick Zito is hoping to run Commentator in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.