10/25/2007 11:00PM

Etched takes conservative path

EmailEtched was so impressive winning his debut at Belmont Park last month that his connections briefly flirted with the idea of running him in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

But knowing that probably wasn't the right thing to do, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin opted for the path of least resistance, which turns out to be Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct. The Nashua, contested at one mile around one turn over Aqueduct's main track, drew a field of five and will be run as the third race. It is one of three stakes on a nine-race card that also includes the Grade 3, $100,000 Tempted for juvenile fillies and the Grade 3, $100,000 Knickerbocker Handicap for older males on turf. The Knickerbocker, was moved back from Saturday due to inclement weather.

Etched, a son of Forestry out of the 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine, romped to a 6 3/4-length victory on Sept. 29, running six furlongs in 1:09.72. He raced wide down the backside and made an electric move around the far turn that put him from two lengths back to eight lengths in front in a matter of three furlongs.

"We were confident he was a very nice horse, we thought he would run very well, but we were pleasantly surprised how well he did it,'' said McLaughlin, who trains Etched for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable. McLaughlin and Darley teamed up to win this race last year with Day Pass.

Etched had displayed some immaturity in his early training, especially at the gate, McLaughlin said, which is why he debuted in blinkers. Before returning to the winner's circle, Etched stood for several minutes at the gap where horses leave the track in the morning, apparently wanting to go back to the barn.

"He's a little temperamental, but he's got a lot of ability,'' McLaughlin said. "The good thing is he's trained on better, he's doing better since the race.''

Alan Garcia rides Etched from post 2.

Anakim looked good winning a one-mile maiden race at Belmont on Sept. 8, but didn't look as good finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Champagne. The track in the Champagne appeared to be drier and cuppier than for his maiden race, according to trainer John Kimmel.

"He took a lot of dirt in his face and he struggled to get through it,'' Kimmel said.

Anak Nakal, a son of Victory Gallop, won a his debut for Nick Zito, while Saada comes off a third-place finish in the Grey Stakes on Woodbine's Polytrack last month. Trust n Dustan is 2 for 2 on dirt and in blinkers.