08/01/2004 11:00PM

Drysdale sends Sarafan on short rest

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DEL MAR, Calif. - It is usually not trainer Neil Drysdale's style to wheel a horse back in only 10 days, especially following a Grade 1 race. So what's up with Sarafan coming back for Wednesday's $75,000 Escondido Handicap at Del Mar after competing in the Eddie Read Handicap on July 25?

A combination of factors account for Sarafan's quick return, Drysdale explained Monday morning at Del Mar. This track's turf course, which has been extremely quick and firm, should better suit Sarafan at a longer distance, Drysdale believes. The Escondido is at 1 3/8 miles, a quarter-mile farther than the Eddie Read. In addition, Drysdale said Sarafan came out of the Eddie Read in excellent condition.

"It didn't appear that the Eddie Read took too much out of him," Drysdale said, emphasizing the word "appear." "He's been happy and playing. I don't think he had a particularly hard race in the Eddie Read."

was taken well back off a moderate pace in the Eddie Read. He finished strongly in a race that came home quickly, but he had too much to do against a top-class field.

"I just felt that the way this racecourse has been playing on grass, nine furlongs didn't suit him. I'm hoping he's better suited to 11 furlongs," Drysdale said.

Only seven runners entered the Escondido. Sarafan is the most accomplished in the field, having won more than $2.4 million while traveling around the world. Those trying to beat him will be hoping his best days are behind him and that an up-and-coming horse might pull off the surprise.

The horse accorded the best chance to score an upset should be Leprechaun Kid, who has won twice in three starts since being gelded. He also thrives at long-distance racing; he most recently finished third in the 1 1/2-mile Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 18.

"This is back a little quicker than usual, but he's doing great," said Mike Machowsky, who trains Leprechaun Kid. "I never train him hard, anyway. I try to make him feel like a grizzly, and it works for him."

had raced 30 times before being gelded in March. Machowsky, who claimed Leprechaun Kid for owner Ed Friendly in July 2003, said gelding Leprechaun Kid has helped him settle.

"I thought it was the right thing to do, but you're always a little worried because it is irreversible," he said. "It's not like taking blinkers on and off. But it has helped."

Pelligrino is another long-distance specialist looking to upset Sarafan. He was second to Leprechaun Kid in a second-level allowance race at Hollywood Park on May 27, then beat a similar field July 2.