07/24/2006 12:00AM

Distance decision looms for Aragorn


DEL MAR, Calif. - The day after a performance even the usually circumspect Neil Drysdale described as "amazing," Drysdale was contemplating what move to make next with Aragorn, who set a course record in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar.

The Eddie Read was at 1 1/8 miles, which Aragorn completed in 1:44.79. His Beyer Speed Figure of 113 is the highest this year for a turf race. Drysdale said he is not sure whether he wants to stretch out Aragorn to 1 1/4 miles for the Arlington Million on Aug. 12 or return Aragorn to one-mile races, with options including the Grade 2, $400,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Mile on Aug. 26 or the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17. Before the Eddie Read, Aragorn had made three consecutive starts at a mile, winning the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and finishing second in the San Francisco Mile and Kilroe Mile.

The Del Mar Breeders' Cup Mile had been run on the dirt in recent years, but was moved to the turf last year. The purse was increased significantly, in the hope of making it a primary stop en route to the Breeders' Cup Mile. Since Aragorn has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles, and since his Breeders' Cup options are either at one mile or the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf, it would appear that the Mile would be his long-range goal this fall.

"He seems multi-talented," Drysdale said Monday morning. "He's very good going a mile. I think he would be effective at a mile and a half, but I'm not sure he'll get that opportunity."

Drysdale said weather is one factor that could determine if Aragorn goes to the Arlington Million.

"That's a concern, definitely," Drysdale said.

Drysdale was snakebit by the weather on Saturday. Red Fort was sent to Chicago for the Arlington Handicap, but "it came up too soft for him," Drysdale said. Red Fort finished fourth. At least he got to run. One Off was sent by Drysdale to Calder for the Bob Umphrey Memorial Handicap, but that race was rained off the turf, and One Off was scratched.

Drysdale said Aragorn "had been training very well coming into the Eddie Read."

"I think he's improving with each start," Drysdale said.

Drysdale said that Fourty Niners Son, who finished fourth in the Eddie Read and then was moved back to fifth on a stewards' disqualification, would likely make his next start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 27.

"I think he needs more ground now," Drysdale said.

Mandella staying away from Aragorn

Del Mar's fans might get another chance to see Aragorn this summer, but Gary Mandella is in no hurry to see him again. Mandella trains Silent Name, who finished third in the Read after running third to Aragorn in the Shoemaker Mile.

"I don't need to see that horse again," Mandella said Monday. "I'll go to Keeneland, Rockingham, wherever he's not. I'm going where he's not going."

Mandella said Silent name was a bit sore in his left front foot on Monday morning. He said it appeared Silent Name's left front hit the right front of Sweet Return early in the race.

Victor Espinoza, riding Silent Name, also lost his whip the first furlong of the race.

"He tried to grab his whip, and when he broke his hold on the reins, the horse took off, which was a fatal blow for the race," Mandella said.

First Del Mar win for Potts

Jockey Clinton Potts scored his first Del Mar victory when River's Prayer captured the Fleet Treat Stakes on Sunday.

"It's always good to get your first win at Del Mar, and to have it be a stakes winner was great," Potts said Monday morning.

Potts, 34, had ridden on the East Coast until relocating to California this spring with Joanne Jones, with whom Potts had a son, Ethan Alexander, on June 20.

"My son was going to be born out here," said Potts. "Joanne wanted to have the baby out here and be with her family."

Jones, best known as the intertrack television personality at Gulfstream Park, is a native of Southern California.

It has been nearly one year since Potts suffered serious injuries in an accident at Delaware Park, which kept him sidelined for six months. He fractured three vertebrae in his neck and back and was initially forced to wear a halo while recuperating.

"I had to wear a halo for 14 weeks," Potts said. "They had to put a second one on after the first one, so I've got 10 holes in my head. When they put that second halo on, I was in more pain from that than anything else in my life.

"I got up to 137 pounds," Potts said. "I wasn't overeating. I was just eating normally. It took over a month to get that weight off before I could ride."

Potts on Sunday morning received word from Del Mar's stewards that he would be suspended for three days, beginning this Sunday, for careless riding that resulted in Crowned Dancer being disqualified from second to fifth in Saturday's 10th race.

A tired Pinata out of Sorrento

Pinata showed signs of fatigue following her victory in the Landaluce Stakes earlier this month at Hollywood Park and will not start in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 5, trainer Peter Miller said.

"She was knocked out after that race," Miller said. "She didn't eat for two weeks."

Miller said that Pinata may be pointed for the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 4.

Shes Got Skills, who beat maidens on turf at Hollywood Park on June 25, is likely to run in the Sorrento, Miller said.

Couple of stakes options for Principle Secret

Principle Secret, a sharp maiden winner in his career debut on Saturday, may return for the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 13, trainer Christopher Paasch said.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Principle Secret ($6.40) ran 5 1/2 furlongs in a quick 1:03.92, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over Horse Greeley.

"Alex thought there might be more there," Paasch said.

Owned by Christopher's wife, Bonnie, Principle Secret could be held out of the Best Pal in favor of the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 6, the closing day of the meeting.

* Jockeys Norberto Arroyo Jr. and Martin Garcia received three-day suspensions from Del Mar's stewards for careless riding on Saturday. Arroyo was suspended for his ride on Papi Chullo, who was disqualified from third to seventh in the San Diego Handicap. Garcia was cited for failing to maintain a straight course with Master James in the third race. Their suspensions begin this Sunday.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen