10/17/2005 11:00PM

Hirapour vs. McDynamo again

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McDynamo, winning the 2004 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, looks to repeat this year against a field headed by Hirapour.

Champions Hirapour and McDynamo head the field for the Grade 1, $200,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase on Saturday at Far Hills, N.J.

The richest race of the year for jumpers, the Steeplechase attracted only six entrants, a record low in the 14-year history of the event. Run at 2 5/8 miles over 14 fences, the Steeplechase is the main event of the seven-race card, which gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

Although there is no parimutuel wagering at Far Hills, Bill Gallo, director of racing for the National Steeplechase Association, set a mythical line for the race that made Hirapour the 6-5 favorite over McDynamo, who is at 8-5.

Hirapour, last year's champion, could clinch a second straight Eclipse Award with a win Saturday. A 9-year-old gelding trained by Doug Fout, Hirapour has already captured two Grade 1 handicaps this season: the Royal Chase at Keeneland in April and the New York Turf Writers at Saratoga.

When asked if a victory Saturday would clinch the title, Fout said: "I would certainly hope so. That's the idea."

McDynamo, the Eclipse winner in 2003, figures to be Hirapour's main obstacle. An 8-year-old gelding trained by Sanna Hendriks, McDynamo is the horse for the rolling course. He is unbeaten in four starts at Far Hills, including the last two Breeders' Cup Steeplechases. McDynamo beat Hirapour last year by 1 1/2 lengths.

McDynamo will try to become the first three-time Breeders' Cup Steeplechase winner. He shares the record with Highland Bud and Morley Street.

This has not been a stellar season for McDynamo, who is winless in four starts. Some think he has lost a step.

"I don't think so, but I guess I'll know more on Saturday," Hendriks said. "I think in some of the races we've lost this year, he's had fairly legitimate reasons. I'm hoping we can turn it around."

Completing the field are Mon Villez, Three Carat, Preemptive Strike, and Understood.