08/18/2006 12:00AM

Good time to stretch 'General'

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - As well as General Jumbo has performed at middle distances, trainer Graham Motion has been waiting for the opportune time to run him long. That time will come Sunday, when General Jumbo runs in the $70,000 John's Call Stakes at 1 5/8 miles on Saratoga's Mellon Turf Course.

A field of nine was entered for the John's Call, though it's likely Auguri will run only if the race gets moved to the main track. Four more horses were entered in the event the race is moved to the dirt; if it is moved, it will be run at 1 3/16 miles. Showers are forecast for Sunday morning.

Motion took over the training of General Jumbo following the colt's 3-year-old season, in which he ran for Niall O'Callaghan. In four starts for Motion, General Jumbo has two allowance wins, a nose loss, and a fourth in allowance company in his most recent start. Motion said he believes there was a legitimate excuse for that performance.

"There was a bug going around my barn, and he came back from the race with a lot of mucus," Motion said.

"I always wanted to run him further," he said. "I'm surprised he's done as well as he has at shorter distances. His pedigree is all about stamina. I've been pointing him to this race."

Rafael Bejarano, who rode General Jumbo to an allowance win at Keeneland in April, has the call.

The horse General Jumbo beat April 28 at Keeneland, Cat's on a Prowl, may be General Jumbo's main challenger in the John's Call. In two starts since then, Cat's on a Prowl finished a troubled fourth behind Crossword in a May allowance and won a first-level allowance June 30. In the May race, Cat's on a Prowl was forced to check hard while attempting to rally up the rail at the three-sixteenths pole. In the June allowance win, Cat's on a Prowl was blocked behind horses in upper stretch before shooting through a hole in midstretch and bounding clear to victory.

"I had no room, and when I got through he just exploded," said Julien Leparoux, who rode Cat's on a Prowl last out and will ride him Sunday. "He's got a good kick. I didn't whip him. He won pretty easy."

Rousing Victory, last year's John's Call winner, makes his first start since July. Trainer Phil Serpe said although Rousing Victory has had his issues, "he's doing well up here."