11/10/2006 12:00AM

Exciting races this year still to come


PHOENIX - Racing's biggest day is in the rear-view mirror, in many ways marking the end of the 2006 racing season. However, there is no small amount of intriguing races coming up that have my full attention:

* Citation Handicap (Hollywood Park, Nov. 24): The Tin Man, so good this year with multiple Grade 1 victories, could reappear here.

He missed the BC Turf after not bouncing back quickly enough from his Clement L. Hirsch turf win at Oak Tree at Santa Anita. No problem, said his trainer, Richard Mandella. He gave the old guy some time off, and recent works indicate he's ready to go.

But he had better be. Silent Name, a top miler at the start of the year and the pacesetter in this year's BC Mile, is also expected to go in the Citation, as trainer Gary Mandella, the son of Richard, takes aim at his father. Becrux, winner of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, has been pointing for the Citation all along, for trainer Neil Drysdale.

Drysdale has taken over the training of top European runner Rob Roy, who closed well in the BC Mile after basically missing the start. He could target the Citation as well.

And if you're talking about a Grade 1 turf race, the name of trainer Bobby Frankel had better come up. Frankel once again showed his talents, getting Badge of Silver ready for the BC Mile after more than 300 days on the bench. He had Badge of Silver fit and ready and he showed speed and stayed on to finish a solid third. Badge of Silver could go in the Citation or the Cigar Mile, in what will be the last start of his career.

Ashkal Way won the Kelso for Godolphin and was considered a potential BC Mile starter, but has been pointed to this instead. Rebel Rebel, not far behind Becrux at Woodbine, may be back for more, too.

* Remsen (Aqueduct, Nov. 25): The main BC combatants won't be here, but that doesn't mean this race can't have huge implications. Nobiz Like Shobiz, so impressive first time out in victory, then equally as impressive in defeat in the Grade 1 Champagne in his second career start, was purposely kept out of the BC Juvenile by trainer Barclay Tagg, specifically with this race in mind. Nobiz Like Shobiz is a big, powerful mover and looks like a router. Best of all, he's bred like one.

Day Pass may not be obviously stamina-bred (he's by crack sprinter Five Star Day), but he has shown enormous talent, and the way he romped in the Grade 3 Nashua at a mile recently hints there's a big future for him. The same people behind Invasor - trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and rider Fernando Jara - helped Day Pass put on a show, and the normally reserved McLaughlin has been gushing about this horse from day one.

* Cigar Mile (Aqueduct, Nov. 25): It's possible that the world's best horse did not compete on the Breeders' Cup card. Discreet Cat is undefeated, after all, and remains the only horse to have beaten Invasor. Reportedly, we don't have to wait long for Discreet Cat's reappearance, as he's supposed to go in the Cigar Mile.

How good is he? He's had it easy. What will happen when he meets quality runners who don't wilt? Will it be like with Bernardini? After all, Badge of Silver may go here after a sterling performance in the BC Mile off a long layoff. Silver Train, winner of last year's BC Sprint and this year's Met Mile, is also targeting this race. Silver Wagon, capable of big things when in the mood, comes off a smashing return to the races and has always been most effective at this kind of trip. All of which provides an opportunity to see if Discreet Cat is truly on a path to greatness - or if, like Bernardini, he gets his come-uppance.

o Hollywood Derby (Hollywood Park, Nov. 26): There is every reason to believe Showing Up will be a leading turf horse come 2007. He's a leading turf runner now as a 3-year-old, and his connections skipped the Breeders' Cup, targeting this race instead, aiming to have him grow into a big-time 4-year-old. Kitten's Joy was huge as a 3-year-old, but didn't come back the same as a 4-year-old after a hard 3-year-old campaign and surgery.

The Hollywood Derby will be no slam dunk for Showing Up. Dark Islander looked tremendous in winning his U.S. debut in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby last month, blowing the doors off some nice 3-year-olds. He appears to have a bright future here in the States.

Obrigado, second to Dark Islander, has talent, too, and has already shown himself able to hold his own in such tough spots as this.

A main danger may come from Ireland. Ivan Denisovich couldn't get into the BC Mile, and that may have been a blessing. Instead, trainer Aidan O'Brien is targeting this race, and not only is the distance (1 1/4 miles) better but also the fact that he would be facing only 3-year-olds. He couldn't get to Showing Up in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington this summer, but he'll get a different kind of turf course here, and he might be a better horse now.

In other words, the Breeders' Cup is over, but the fun isn't.