08/27/2009 11:00PM

Facing Rachel is lesser of two evils

Barbara D. Livingston
Asiatic Boy, with exercise rider Rob Massey, preps for the Woodward by working five furlongs in 1:00.86 on Friday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The choice for the connections of Asiatic Boy was this: stay home and run against superstar filly Rachel Alexandra in Saturday's $750,000 Woodward Stakes spotting her eight pounds on dirt, or ship cross-country to face Einstein, Colonel John, and nine or 10 others in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sept. 6 over a synthetic surface he has never run on.

In the end, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum decided to stay home and run in the Woodward.

"We're going to stay here,'' McLaughlin said Friday afternoon. "It's a 12-horse field and it's a long way to travel to a track we've never run on. There's pros and cons - more pros than cons - to both but we're going to stay here.''

The Woodward, run at 1 1/8 miles is a weight-for-age race. Under the conditions of the race, older males carry 126 pounds. Rachel Alexandra gets a five-pound weight allowance for being a 3-year-old and an additional three pounds for being a filly, meaning she will carry 118. McLaughlin isn't thrilled with the prospect of facing Rachel.

"The old saying you don't duck one horse but this is little different than just a horse,'' McLaughlin said. "But things happen.''

Asiatic Boy, who finished second to Macho Again in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster and second to Dry Martini in the Grade 2 Suburban, was forced to scratch from the Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 8 due to a temperature. He has worked twice since, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.86 on Friday.

"We were happy with that and he's ready to go,'' McLaughlin said. "We'll probably end up staying here.''

Those pointing to the Woodward include Whitney winner Bullsbay, Stephen Foster winner Macho Again, Oaklawn Handicap winner It's a Bird, multiple stakes winner Cool Coal Man, and possibly 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da' Tara, and 2008 Woodward runner-up Past the Point.

On Friday, Cool Coal Man worked four furlongs in 47.44 seconds over the training track while his stablemate Da' Tara worked the same distance in 47.02, the fastest of 46 works at the distance.

Multidude ambitiously spotted in Forego

It's a long way from the New York-bred allowance ranks to the Grade 1 Forego, but trainer Carlos Martin said he believes Multidude has earned a shot at the big time. Considering that two of his opponents are also coming out of the statebred ranks, Martin's vision may not be all that far-fetched.

If his last race was any indication, Multidude may be over the physical issues that have limited the 4-year-old gelding to just six starts. In winning a second-level statebred allowance by 7 3/4 lengths here on Aug. 10, Multidude ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.06.

"He seems like a horse that always had tremendous ability. It's just been one thing after another with him,'' said Martin, who trains the son of Fusaichi Pegasus for Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stable. "But he's doing well and the way he ran on this track . . . I know some people think it's not a bright move or we're overmatching him, but if you're running against Law Enforcement, Driven by Success, and Kodiak Kowboy, in a Grade 1 for $300,000 and the horse is doing well, I think I want to be in that race.''

Law Enforcement and Driven by Success are also New York-breds. Kodiak Kowboy is likely to vie for favoritism in the Forego with Pyro. Others planning to run include Gold Trippi, My Pal Charlie, Peace Chant, True Quality, and possibly Past the Point.

Multidude, out of the Grade 2-winning dam Thunder Achiever, finished third in his debut at Belmont as a 2-year-old in July 2007. The horse was away from the races for 13 months due to an injured spine and a torn gluteal muscle, Martin said. After a decent comeback race on dirt and a failed turf experiment in a span of six days last August here, Multidude finally earned his first victory at Belmont last October.

Multidude had other issues and after being scratched out of the gate in a race at Belmont last fall, he was sent to South Carolina for a freshening. He has returned in terrific form, winning a first-level allowance at Belmont before his smashing victory here last month for which he earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

On Aug. 20, Multidude worked a sharp half-mile in 47.12 seconds before coming back on Friday with an easy half-mile in 50.16 seconds.

Martin said Alan Garcia will ride Multidude, replacing John Velazquez, who is committed to riding Pyro.

Godolphin runners gear up for Belmont

Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable has enjoyed a successful Saratoga meeting, but on Friday it worked a trio of horses that will be pointed to stakes at the Belmont fall meet.

Regal Ransom, who was scratched out of the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on June 5 due to a minor injury, worked a sharp five furlongs in 59.41 seconds Friday morning under exercise rider Simon Harris. He got his last three furlongs in 34.51 seconds.

"He's a good work horse, but he's worked especially well here at Saratoga,'' Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee said. "He's finished up good and he's galloped out good.''

Mettee said a race like Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap is a target, though it is likely he would be ready to run before then.

Girolamo, who returned from a 10-month layoff to win a nonwinners of two races lifetime allowance race on Aug. 9, worked five furlongs in 1:00.10 Friday morning. He too is a candidate for the Jerome, though would likely be ready to run again before then.

"Girolamo seems to have taken his race well, come out of it good. He'd be an obvious choice to target for the Jerome,'' Mettee said.

Godolphin could also have Vineyard Haven and/or last year's 2-year-old champion Midshipman for the Jerome.

Seventh Street, winner of the Go for Wand here on Aug. 2, worked five furlongs in 1:01.66 in preparation for a start in the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont on Sept. 12.

Training the Jerkens way

Only Allen Jerkens could work a horse 10 furlongs over two days and wonder what all the fuss is about.

But that's exactly what he did with Le Grand Cru, who on Friday worked seven furlongs in 1:26.26, one day after working three furlongs in 38.89 seconds.

"He didn't do much [Thursday],'' Jerkens said. "He just galloped strong. He went good today. I always thought he'd come around and be a better horse. He hasn't done it yet.''

Le Grand Cru, a son of Dynaformer, has won just 2 of 10 starts. Most recently, he finished fourth to Cool Coal Man in the Albert the Great Stakes. Le Grand Cru is nominated to both the Woodward and Forego, but Jerkens said he would likely seek an easier spot.

* Dry Martini, the Suburban winner, worked four furlongs in 46.86 seconds Friday morning. The work went faster than trainer Barclay Tagg would have liked because the horse was joined in the breeze by another worker, Singing My Song. Tagg did not even nominate Dry Martini to the Woodward and instead is pointing the gelding to the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 3.