10/26/2006 12:00AM

Four-peat within McDynamo's reach


Now batting, McDynamo.

The steeplechase slugger goes for a grand slam in Saturday's $250,000 Breeders' Cup Grand National, the richest steeplechase in North America, at the Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J.

And he will swing for the fences. The 9-year-old McDynamo has won the race's last three runnings, sports a perfect 5-for-5 mark on the course, and can vault past Lonesome Glory atop the career earnings list for American steeplechasers with a win in the Grade 1 race. McDynamo comes off a powerful score in the Grade 2 Somerset Medical Center at the Meadowlands on Sept. 29.

"I'm feeling the pressure a little bit, but the horse doesn't seem to be feeling the pressure," said Pennsylvania-based trainer Sanna Hendriks. "I'm happy he likes the course and it would be unbelievable to be able to do it."

Hendriks noted that at the Meadowlands, McDynamo "seemed really sharp mentally."

"There was a bright-eyed look on his face and he was ready," Hendriks said. "When he acts like that, he usually comes up with a good race."

The Breeders' Cup headlines a $600,000 day of jump racing at Far Hills, which will again draw an estimated 50,000 spectators from New Jersey, New York, the Mid-Atlantic, and beyond. The day features an all-stakes, six-race card that includes races for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds, novices, and timber horses. Post time is 1 p.m. Eastern at the Moorland Farms course just off Route 202 in Somerset County.

At 2 5/8 miles and 14 fences, the Breeders' Cup presents a demanding test for Thoroughbreds each fall. Owned by Michael Moran, McDynamo has owned the race for three seasons - winning by 15 lengths in 2003, 1 1/2 lengths in 2004, and nine lengths in 2005. He likes the Far Hills course, which features an uphill finish, as much as Sky Beauty liked Belmont Park. McDynamo, the 2003 and 2005 Eclipse Award winner, also won his maiden over the course in 2001 and a novice hurdle stakes there in 2002.

"When I took him up there the first time, I thought he was a nice maiden but he's surpassed that by a longshot," said Hendriks, who has given the mount to regular jockey Jody Petty.

McDynamo, who has earned $878,104 as a jumper, faces a familiar rival among the five challengers. Hirapour, a Grade 2 winner at Saratoga this summer and the 2004 Eclipse winner, tries to win his first Breeders' Cup after finishing second in 2004 and third in 2005. Trained by Doug Fout, the

10-year-old bypassed the Meadowlands race while recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga.

Fout is confident in his horse, but has an eye on the rain forecast for the area Saturday.

"I'm confident, but the biggest thing is for it not be too soft," said the Virginia-based Fout. "Hirapour struggles in it. My horse has to come from off the pace and Far Hills doesn't set itself for that kind of style. But that's the way he does it. If we can stay on top of the ground, we'll put on a good show. He's in better shape than he was after Turf Writers."

Fout considered retiring the Irish-bred Hirapour after the Turf Writers loss, but opted instead to try a new procedure (called IRAP) that has been used to treat arthritis in humans. Hirapour tested the ankle with an impressive training flat race score at Morven Park in Virginia two weeks ago.

Beyond the top pair, Mixed Up looms an upset threat from the barn of Jonathan Sheppard. The Turf Writers winner must carry equal weight with the favorites after getting 16 pounds from Hirapour at Saratoga. Last out, Mixed Up finished second to McDynamo at the Meadowlands while in receipt of 10 pounds. Like Hirapour, Mixed Up would prefer firm turf.

Multiple stakes-placed veteran Mauritania tries to halt an eight-race losing streak. The 9-year-old Mauritania has placed in five stakes this year. Irish owner Patrick Kehoe will be represented by Kilbeggan Lad, a seven-time winner in Ireland with proven soft-turf form. Recent Philadelphia Park allowance winner Chivite completes the field.