10/06/2004 11:00PM

Improvement expected from Stroll

Stroll should improve in his second start back after a freshening.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Stroll has run some monster races at Belmont Park, including a two-length win in last year's Grade 2 Jamaica. If he can duplicate that effort, Stroll will be the one to beat in Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap.

is among eight turf males in the Kelso, a prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park Oct. 30. Stroll is the co-highweight at 119 pounds with Millennium Dragon and Mr O'Brien.

Stroll also won a first-level allowance race at Belmont in May 2003. He won the race, which was at the mile distance of the Kelso, by six lengths. That race was the first of five consecutive trips to the winner's circle for Stroll.

Stroll, who is trained by Bill Mott, enters the Kelso off a second-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap. He was beaten four lengths by Senor Swinger.

Mott didn't use the layoff as an excuse for Stroll's loss, but said he believes he will improve in his second start back.

Cornelio Velasquez rides Stroll, who has tactical speed, from post 4.

Millennium Dragon, fifth in the Kelso last year, finished ninth in the Atto Mile after a nine-week layoff on Sept. 19.

Kiaran McLaughlin, Millennium Dragon's trainer, thinks Millennium Dragon got something out of the effort. "He got tired at the top of the lane," McLaughlin said. "He's the type of the horse, who does well with his races tight together."

Millennium Dragon is not Breeders' Cup eligible and therefore will be competing for a purse of $250,000.

Richard Migliore rides Millennium Dragon, who drew post 3.

drops back to a mile after picking up checks in two longer Grade 1's during the summer, the Manhattan and United Nations. The last time he ran in a mile race, Mr O'Brien romped to a nine-length win over an easier field than he meets in the Kelso.

Robin Graham, Mr O'Brien's trainer, said the beauty of Mr O'Brien is that whatever the distance, he is content to relax.

"He can sit off the speed and kick," Graham said.

Christophe Clement, who won back-to-back runnings of the Kelso with Forbidden Apple in 2001 and 2002, entered Proud Man.

Proud Man, the runner-up in last year's Kelso, returns to the races for the first time since March.

"I hope I have him tight," Clement said. "Being a stakes, he has to be at his best, best. He had a good work Tuesday."

Corey Nakatani rides Proud Man from post 5.

should offer betting value and poses a threat to the top three in his quest to win his first graded stakes. Willard Straight is 3 for 3 in mile turf races and 2 for 2 at Belmont.

Christine's Outlaw also does well at Belmont, where he won the Grade 3 Poker over Millennium Dragon in July. Christine's Outlaw figures to be joined for the early lead by Gulch Approval.

Trainer Neil Drysdale thinks enough of King of Happiness to ship him here from California. King of Happiness, who has the tendency to break slowly, has faced Grade 1 company this year with mixed results.

Gulch Approval won the Grade 3 Oceanport Handicap in August.

The field

Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap
Purse: $350,000; 1 mile, turf; Grade 2

1Mr O'BrienE. Coa1193-1
2Christine's OutlawS. Bridgmohan11420-1
3Millennium DragonR. Migliore1194-1
4StrollC. Velasquez1192-1
5Proud ManC. Nakatani11510-1
6Willard StraightJ. Velazquez11412-1
7Gulch ApprovalJ. Castellano11420-1
8King of HappinessV. Espinoza1177-2

* Odds by Brian Pochman