09/08/2010 2:13PM

Gayego stretching out in Presque Isle Mile

Barbara D. Livingston
Gayego will race beyond seven furlongs for the first time since the 2009 Goldolphin Mile in Friday's $250,000 Presque Isle Mile.

The biggest weekend of the Presque Isle season begins Friday evening with the $250,000 Presque Isle Mile. The Mile will be followed Saturday by the Grade 3, $400,000 Presque Isle Masters.

A full field of 12 is entered in the Mile, including Godolphin’s Gayego, who is trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Gayego ships in from the recently concluded Saratoga meet off an even fourth-place finish in the six-furlong A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap. The Mile will be Gayego’s first attempt at more than seven furlongs since he finished second in the Goldophin Mile in March 2009.

Mambo Meister exits a sixth-place finish in the Vanderbilt after a troubled start. Trained by Phil Gleaves, Mambo Meister won a pair of Grade 3 races at Calder earlier this year, the Miami Mile on turf April 25 and the Memorial Day Handicap on dirt May 31. He rallied from far back to finish second in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at six furlongs in his start prior to the Vanderbilt.

Cherokee Artist has only won once since his victory in the 2009 Presque Isle Mile. However, he has been working forwardly for trainer Graham Motion at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland following an even effort on the turf in the Grade 3 Oceanport, a 1 1/16-mile race at Monmouth.

Trainer Charles Lopresti shipped Successful Dan to Presque Isle on Wednesday morning from Keeneland. The 4-year-old comes into the Mile following his first race in 14 months, an optional claimer at Arlington Park. Successful Dan won the first three starts of his career last year, a maiden race at Keeneland, an allowance at Churchill Downs, and the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill. A series of setbacks has kept him on the sidelines.

“We had one problem after another with him,” said Lopresti, who scored his first Grade 1 win last week in the Forego at Saratoga. “First it was a sesamoid ligament after the Northern Dancer. Unfortunately, when he was ready to bring back in the winter, he then developed a upper suspensory strain before Keeneland.”

Lopresti had to settle for the six-furlong race at Arlington for Successful Dan’s comeback. He finished a closing fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

“It was a lot shorter than we wanted, but we had to run him,” he said.

Lopresti said if Successful Dan wins Friday, he will be pointed to the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile.