02/14/2009 1:00AM

Ikigai fits nicely vs. Tale of Ekati


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Ikigai's best distance is six furlongs. Tale of Ekati's most effective distance may be a mile, according to his trainer, Barclay Tagg. On Saturday, the two will meet smack dab in the middle, going seven furlongs in Gulfstream Park's $150,000 Richter Scale.

The Grade 2 dash drew a field of six and highlights a card that also includes the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Ikigai has won 5 of his last 6 starts, including the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at six furlongs here last month, earning a career-best 112 Beyer Speed Figure. Marty Wolfson, who trains Ikigai, said he's concerned about both the distance and presence of Tale of Ekati in the Richter Scale - though he believes his horse is capable of overcoming both obstacles.

"I like my post and the way my horse has trained," he said. "Seven furlongs is the unknown but Ikigai is by Whywhywhy and there's no reason to believe he can't get the distance."

Wolfson also is hoping he's catching two-time Grade 1 winner Tale of Ekati at the right time.

"Tale of Ekati is a very nice horse, but I'm hopeful he might need a race to get to the next one," he said. "I also know that anybody in the field who tries to run with my horse early will be knocked out. He can go a 44 [seconds]-and-change half if he has to, although he's learned to relax in his last few starts, which has really helped."

Tale of Ekati has not started since winning the Grade 1 Cigar Mile via the disqualification of Harlem Rocker on Nov. 29. Tale of Ekati was also impressive in capturing the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at a mile in his previous start. A son of Tale of the Cat, he has also won graded stakes at seven furlongs (the Belmont Futurity at 2) and 1 1/8 miles (the Grade 1 Wood Memorial last spring at Aqueduct).

"Seven furlongs is probably not his best distance and not what I'd pick, but it's what I got," Tagg said. He acknowledged he's using the Richter Scale to prep Tale of Ekati for the one-mile, Grade 2 Gulfstream Park on March 14.

Tagg said the first major goal this year for Tale of Ekati is the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park on May 25.

Ling Ling Qi, Bold Star, Now a Victor, and How's Your Halo complete the lineup.