02/29/2008 12:00AM

Dutrow readies assault on Dubai

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Richard Dutrow Jr. is ready for Dubai. The question is, will Dubai be ready for the colorful Dutrow?

Dutrow continues to put the finishing touches on his two Dubai-bound runners, Benny the Bull and Diamond Stripes, at the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach. Both turned in key workouts on Friday, Benny the Bull going five-eighths in 1:00 and Diamond Stripes six furlongs in 1:15.

Benny the Bull came within .02 of a second of equaling the course record when he drew off to a convincing 4 1/2-length victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 26. Benny the Bull is being pointed for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse on March 29.

"He's doing good," Dutrow said. "He's ready. I'd like to breeze him right before we leave here and again over the track in Dubai five days out from the race."

Dutrow said the flight to Dubai is tentatively scheduled to depart from south Florida on March 18.

Diamond Stripes is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita. He is expected to run in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.

"He's also been training very well," said Dutrow. "I don't think he liked the artificial surface out there in California. I just don't think that's his game."

Dutrow will be making his first visit to Dubai for the World Cup festivities and racing program.

"I'm still not sure when I'm going to leave," said Dutrow. "I don't plan to be there too long. . . . The only time I'll really get excited about this trip is if I see one of my horses coming down the stretch about to win."

Dutrow is also preparing his Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Kip Deville, for his 2008 debut. Kip Deville worked five furlongs in 1:00.50 at Palm Meadows on Thursday.

"Right now it looks like he'll come back in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland," said Dutrow.

The Grade 1 Maker's Mark will be decided at Keeneland on April 11.

Richter Scale shapes up strongly

Benny the Bull will obviously not be among the participants in the $200,000 Richter Scale Sprint Handicap here next Saturday, but the race still figures to come up one of the better stakes events of the meet. The seven-furlong Richter Scale closed earlier this week with 14 nominations, among them Chatain and Commentator, both of whom are expected to start.

Other prominent names on the list include King of the Roxy, winner of the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes here last winter and runner-up in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, as well as the Fall Highweight winner Grand Champion.

Lady Marlboro and Golden Velvet, who finished in a dead heat for the win in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap on Jan. 6, could square off again next Sunday in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap. The two were among 12 fillies and mares nominated for the 1 1/8-mile fixture, along with the up-and-coming Spring Waltz and Grade 2 winner Moon Catcher.

Sightseeing flat in return on grass

Sightseeing's turf experiment may have ended after he finished fifth as the 7-5 favorite under second-level allowance conditions on the grass in Friday's $44,500 main event.

The outing was the first for Sightseeing - runner-up in last year's Wood Memorial - since his fifth place finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap five months earlier.

The first two finishers in Friday's headliner, A Bit of Madness and Touched by Madness, are half-brothers. Both are out of the mare Marilyn's Madness and were bred by Gil Campbell, who still owns A Bit of Madness. Kathleen O'Connell trains A Bit of Madness, the younger of the two siblings, who has now won two of his three starts over the local turf course.

Tight trainer race

After Todd Pletcher won the last four local training titles by substantial margins, it was pretty much taken for granted that he would again dominate the standings this winter. But Pletcher finds himself in a dogfight in his quest to capture a fifth straight championship.

Entering Saturday's card, Nick Zito stood atop the standings with 17 victories, one more than both Pletcher and Peter Walder. Bill Mott and the red-hot Wayne Catalano rounded out the top five with 15 wins apiece. Ken McPeek has also moved into contention, having saddled 14 winners through the first eight weeks of the session.

Eibar Coa continues to hold a substantial lead, 54-45, in the jockey standings through Friday over two-time Gulfstream titleholder John Velazquez. Coa was leading rider here in 2003.