03/05/2002 1:00AM

Echo Eddie accepts invitation to Dubai


ARCADIA, Calif. - California-bred sprinter Echo Eddie has been invited to the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai, where he and at least four other American sprinters will run in the six-furlong race, which is part of the Dubai World Cup card March 23.

Trainer Darrell Vienna and owner David Milch were informed Tuesday that Echo Eddie had been invited. In his most recent start Feb. 23, Echo Eddie won the $100,000 Ken Maddy Handicap by a 1 3/4 lengths, earning a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Echo Eddie, a 5-year-old gelding, has won 8 of 15 and earned $405,116. Pat Valenzuela, who is expected to ride Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Western Pride in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, will ride Echo Eddie in the Golden Shaheen. The race is expected to attract Xtra Heat, Caller One, Men's Exclusive, and Bonapaw. Echo Eddie's owner will be competing for $4 million in purse money in Dubai. Milch also owns Val Royal, one of the favorites for the $2 million Dubai Duty Free.

Val Royal primed for Dubai

Val Royal came out of his fourth-place comeback race in top shape, and is booked on a March 9 flight out of Los Angeles that will carry several California-based horses to Dubai. Winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall, Val Royal finished fourth Saturday in the Grade 2 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, and will be one of the favorites for the $2 million Dubai Duty Free.

"He came out of the race super, and I still think he could have won if he would have gotten out sooner," trainer Julio Canani said Tuesday.

Val Royal was buried on the rail for much of the Kilroe, at a mile on turf, and was in ninth with only a quarter-mile left. He made up eight lengths into a 22.99 last quarter, meaning he ran his final quarter mile in roughly 21.40.

Local runners expected to leave for Dubai on March 9 are Western Pride, Echo Eddie, Caller One, Men's Exclusive, Blade Prospector, Val Royal, and Irish Prize.

Knee trouble for Pelirrojo

A nuclear scan Monday on promising 3-year-old Pelirrojo showed trouble in his right knee, and trainer John Sadler expected X-rays later Tuesday to reveal the exact nature of the problem. Pelirrojo finished sixth of seven in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes on Saturday, and emerged from the race less than 100 percent. While Sadler does not believe Pelirrojo will be compromised long term, a setback now would eliminate him from Derby consideration.

"He lights up in his right knee, so he might have something," Sadler said. "He'll probably end up getting a break, I'm guessing."

Pelirrojo, owned by Granja Vista Del Rio Stable, won two of three races before the San Rafael, his first try in graded stakes company. The weekend also turned out badly for Sadler's top sprinter Ceeband, who ran fifth of six in the Grade 1 San Carlos on Sunday.

"We're six weeks away from going back to his favorite track, so I'll just wait until then," Sadler said, referring to Hollywood Park. Ceeband won the $300,000 Triple Bend last summer at Hollywood, which begins its spring-summer meet on April 24. Sadler said he plans to replace jockey Matt Garcia when Ceeband returns.

Snow Ridge put on ambitious schedule

Trainer Wayne Lukas has mapped an ambitious schedule for Snow Ridge, who won his third straight graded sprint Sunday in the Grade 1 San Carlos. Snow Ridge is pointing for the Grade 2 Portero Grande Handicap on March 30 at Santa Anita, the Grade 2 Commonwealth on April 14 at Keeneland, the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 4 at Churchill Downs, and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 27 at Belmont.

"He could run in all four, or three of four," said Lukas. "Obviously, the races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs appeal most to [owner] Bill Young, because [Lexington is] his home town. We're going to try to make both those, and the Met Mile."

* You and Habibti renew their rivalry Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Other 3-year-old fillies considered probable for the 1 1/16-mile race include Adoration, Daddy's Gold, Farda Amiga, and Respectful.

* Spain will carry 118-pound highweight Sunday in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap for fillies and mares. Others expected are Printemps, Alexine, Azeri, and Verruma.

* Above Perfection, winner of the Grade 3 La Flores Handicap on Feb. 23, will try grass next out. The 4-year-old filly will tackle Jeweled Pirate and Fair Apache in the $100,000 Irish O'Brien Stakes for Cal-bred fillies and mares March 17.

* Cagney, fifth-place finisher in the Santa Anita Handicap, will be pointed for the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano on April 21, according to trainer Richard Mandella. Third-place finisher Kudos will be freshened with an eye toward the summer stakes at Hollywood Park.