03/02/2006 12:00AM

I can feel it - Cacique is the one in Kilroe

Cacique faces 13 in Saturday's Kilroe Mile.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - I'm giving you a horse Saturday, which is something I generally don't just come right out and do, because it's horse racing, after all, and anticipation and disappointment usually go hand in hand.

Not on Saturday. Cacique will win the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap.

Cacique hasn't run in six months, since finishing seventh at Longchamp, and he is running against 13 other horses. It just doesn't matter. Go ahead and single him in the Kilroe in pick-whatevers, and if you're thinking about making a play in Santa Anita's $1 million guaranteed pick six, even though there is no inherent edge in playing it without a carryover pool, make him your anchor there, too.

Why should you listen to someone's opinion about the Kilroe when that someone is 3,000 miles away from the Great Race Place and watching snow fall at Aqueduct as he writes?

Because as Ted McClelland put it in "Horseplayers," the fine novel published last year, I have been visited by the Tingle for the first time in several months.

The Tingle is an intuitive feeling horseplayers develop after handicapping and betting thousands of races, if they're lucky. It starts as a shadowy touch that raises the little hairs on the back of your neck, and it slowly envelops you.

You can't look for the Tingle. It comes to you. That is the only way it ever happens. It might be the Kentucky Derby or it might be a $5,000 claimer at Penn National, but the feeling is always the same.

The Tingle must be heeded, because it is usually right, barring unforeseen calamity. To be sure, Cacique needs a trip as one of 14 runners in a two-turn mile. If nothing gets in his way, he will win. Walk confidently to the windows if he is 2-1. If he is any lower you might consider passing on a win bet, but it's not a really good idea to take a firm stand against him.

Even with the Bobby Frankel magic, Cacique would have been a fringe contender and nothing more in last year's Kilroe. He might have pulled off an upset a la Decarchy, another Juddmonte-Frankel horse, who won this race in a four-horse photo in 2002 and paid $18. But to win the 2005 Kilroe, Cacique would have had to get past Leroidesanimaux, Frankel's eventual champion, who was coming in off a Beyer line of 111-111-112 and came out with another 112 and his sixth consecutive victory.

That field contained six other Grade 1 winners (seven if you count a dual Group 1 winner in Argentina), in addition to Buckland Manor, who had beaten Singletary in the Oak Tree Mile a few months earlier.

This year's field is nowhere near as strong. Buckland Manor, last year's runner-up, is back, but comes off a disaster of a race in the San Antonio. There are a handful of Grade 2 winners, but even among those, Toasted and Senor Swinger haven't won at that level since 2004. The best last-out Beyer is Milk It Mick's 105, in a one-length loss in the San Marcos to The Tin Man, an 8-year-old Santa Anita grass specialist who was winning his first graded stake since the winter of 2003.

Cacique has not run since facing Europe's champion miler Starcraft last September, but Leroidesanimaux had not been out in months, either. This is classic Frankel - a fresh horse who is aggressively spotted at a new venue, and one who is getting Lasix for the first time.

And as for the Derby?

Everyone is hoping for a visit from the Tingle come Kentucky Derby time, but so far there is nothing on the radar screen except for possibilities.

On the weekend of Pool 2 in the Kentucky Derby Futures Wagers, two horses stand out based on what they have shown in route races on fast racetracks - Brother Derek and Achilles of Troy.

Brother Derek's status could change pending his performance in the Santa Catalina, but he has never taken a backward step on the Beyers, running 102 and 108 at the turn of the year.

Among the 23 single-horse entries in Pool 2, the only other horse with two Beyers exceeding 100 in fast-track routes is Achilles of Troy, with 105 and 104.

First Samurai has run 103 and 107, but each time in the slop and in one-turn races out of a chute. We will find out a lot more about him in the Fountain of Youth.