11/19/2010 5:11PM

El Kingdom to start on grass again

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Jim Lisa Photos
El Kingdom, Luis Saez up, wins the Needles Stakes.

Off his breeding, El Kingdom would appear to be a better horse on grass than dirt, being by El Prado out of the Dynaformer mare Rabiadella and a half-brother to the graded turf stakes winner Diadella. But thus far that has not been the case.

El Kingdom has won 3 of 8 starts, all on dirt, including the Needles Stakes by better than five lengths on Sept. 25. He followed that career-best performance with perhaps an even stronger effort in defeat when he finished third behind only Mad Flatter, a member of this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile field, and the multiple graded stakes winner Mambo Meister in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap five weeks ago.

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. will try El Kingdom back on the grass when he starts among the favorites in Sunday's featured ninth race, a $41,300 allowance test scheduled to be run at a mile on the turf. In his last try over the infield course, El Kingdom finished sixth after an eventful trip in The Vid Stakes over yielding ground on Aug. 21.

El Kingdom could face his stiffest opposition from Pointing North, who is still seeking his first victory since winning a Group 1 race in his native South Africa nearly three years ago. Trained by Tom Albertrani, Pointing North dropped into the selling ranks this summer where he was beaten a neck under a $40,000 claiming price at Monmouth Park and exits an even effort in an overnight stakes last month at Belmont Park.

Almuraad is proving the adage that a horse can get better with age as he is coming off the best performance of his career at the ripe old age of 9. Almuraad earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94 after getting to the wire two lengths in front of Dinner in Odem under allowance conditions here on Oct. 23 only to be disqualified and placed second for lugging in and shutting off the runner-up during the stretch run.

A couple of horses coming off long layoffs, Cape Royale and Holiday Blake, are among the other key players in Sunday's main event.