09/28/2006 12:00AM

Duo gets prep for Cal Cup


Saturday's $75,000 Presidio at one mile on the turf comes at a perfect time for El Don and Super Strut. Both are running well as they approach their ultimate fall objective, the $175,000 Cal Cup Mile on Oct. 28 at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet.

"This is a tough race for us to pass up," said Marty Jones, who trains El Don. "It's kind of tailor-made for what we want to do. He's never run on the turf at Golden Gate Fields, but he has run well at Bay Meadows."

El Don defeated Super Strut two starts back in the California Dreamin Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 4, when he held off Super Strut's late charge to win by three-quarters of a length. In his last start, El Don was sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, four lengths behind the winner, Aragorn.

"That was a tough race," Jones said. "He was shuffled back between horses and didn't get beaten that badly. Aragorn is one of the best milers in the world."

Super Strut followed his second in the California Dreamin with a third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles. He has hit the board in his last four starts, all in stakes. Super Strut's last northern California start came in December 2005, when he ran second over the Golden Gate turf in an $80,000 optional claimer. He will be ridden by Tyler Baze in the Presidio.

"I was hoping to find a nice, cozy spot, but it will be pretty tough with El Don coming," said Craig Dollase, who trains Super Strut. "He's in good form right now. Tyler's going up to ride, which is good. We're using this to get ready for Cal Cup."

El Don has better tactical speed than Super Strut, which could put him at an advantage.

Four locally based rivals are also in the field, including graded winner Yougottawanna and Now Victory, who two starts back won the $101,000 Joseph Grace on the turf at Santa Rosa. Yougottawanna returned from a 13-month layoff in his last start and finished third, beaten nine lengths, after chasing Stone Rain. Yougottawanna seems the likely candidate to set the pace Saturday, but is much better on dirt than turf.

Now Victory and First Rate Event have enough speed to sit close, although both have been running well from a bit off the pace in their most recent starts.

Double House recorded his lone career victory on the turf but seems to be in very tough here.