10/15/2009 12:00AM

Dutrow targets a Cup three-peat

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Andrew Watkins
Trainer Rick Dutrow will send out Anak Nakal (above) and Great Debater in Friday's Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trainer Rick Dutrow goes for a Meadowlands Cup three-peat Friday night when he sends out an entry of Anak Nakal and Great Debater in the top event of the Meadowlands meet.

:: RACE OF THE DAY:

The Grade 2, $300,000 Cup attracted nine runners for the 1 1/8-mile race. It shapes up as a solid renewal, with a field that includes It's a Bird, the Oaklawn Handicap and Lone Star Park Handicap winner looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, and Solar Flare, the third-place finisher in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park who is making his first start for Dutrow's brother Tony.

Rick Dutrow started his Meadowlands Cup run with Diamond Stripes in 2007 and scored again last year with Arson Squad.

His best hope of extending the streak rests with Anak Nakal, a 4-year-old making his debut for Dutrow after starting his career with Nick Zito.

Anak Nakal, a drop-back closer, has the rail for his first start since finishing last in the Dubai World Cup in March. After a freshening, Anak Nakal was transferred to Dutrow.

"He seems like a horse that's not going to need one, he seems to me that he's sitting on a big race," Dutrow said. "We targeted that race because he'd run well in it last year. Our horse is training very well. We're so happy with this horse right now."

Anak Nakal thrived at this time last year, winning the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day followed by a late-running second to Arson Squad in last year's Meadowlands Cup.

Great Debater will ensure there is ample pace in the race.

"I'll probably send that horse to the lead," Dutrow said.

This could be a breakthrough spot for Etched, a perfect 4 for 4 in the United States, including the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes for 2-year-olds at Aqueduct. Now 4, Etched suffered his lone career loss in Dubai, running fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas in February 2008.

Physical problems have held him back. Etched was a sharp allowance winner on Sept. 3 at Saratoga, his first race in more than nine months as he recuperated from a cracked cannon bone.

"We need to be able to get him over there every six weeks instead of once a year," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

- additional reporting by David Grening