03/21/2006 12:00AM

Just toss Magna Graduate's slop flop


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Angel Cordero Jr., the retired Hall of Fame jockey, was jogging Magna Graduate past a small crowd standing trackside at Nad Al Sheba racecourse on Tuesday morning when he tossed his whip to Kim Valerio, the racing manager for Magna Graduate's owner, Elisabeth Alexander.

"I don't need this," Cordero said while riding away.

A few minutes later, emerging through a thick fog, Magna Graduate roared down the stretch, breezing three furlongs. It was his last major exercise before Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup at about 1 1/4 miles, the world's richest race.

How much John Velazquez, whom Cordero represents as an agent, will need his whip to coax Magna Graduate in the Dubai World Cup depends on whether the colt can recapture his form of last fall.

Magna Graduate was outstanding late last year, winning three consecutive graded stakes - the Grade 3 Pegasus at The Meadowlands in September, the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Belmont Park in October, and the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Magna Graduate, 4, might have been favored for the Dubai World Cup had he won the Donn Handicap, run on a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4, rather than finish a well-beaten fourth.

Electrocutionist, the winner of a stakes here on March 2 and a Group 1 winner on turf in England last year, is favored with English bookmakers. There are five hopefuls from the United States, with Donn Handicap winner Brass Hat considered the top contender. The other runners from the U.S. are Choctaw Nation, who was third in the 2005 Dubai World Cup; Wilko, who was third in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 4; and Super Frolic, who finished a troubled fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic last October.

Alexander, of Hunting Valley, Ohio, said Magna Graduate is much better than his last race indicated.

"You have to throw that race out," she said. The track "was such a mess."

Magna Graduate led to early stretch in the Donn before fading to finish 9 1/4 lengths behind Brass Hat. Last fall, he showed the ability to run near the lead or stalk the pace.

Alexander, who shares ownership of the colt with her daughter Emily, bought Magna Graduate in the fall of 2004 when the colt was racing at Churchill Downs.

"I think he had the potential all along," she said. "When we first saw him when he was a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs, he looked the part."

The Alexander family had campaigned Ohio-breds for many years, but opted for better-bred horses in recent years, Alexander said.

"It was handwriting on the wall," she said. "If we wanted to make money, we needed to change our thinking. I've had horses for 30 years and I've never had a good one like this before."

The addition of Tuesday's workout was a change of plans after Cordero spoke with Pletcher on Monday. Pletcher is expected to arrive here later in the week.

Because of the conditions, no time was available from the workout.

"I think they just wanted to stretch his legs out," Valerio said.

There was little activity from the other U.S. horses on Tuesday. Brass Hat, Choctaw Nation, and Super Frolic walked after having workouts on Monday. Wilko was scheduled to work on turf on Wednesday.

Owned by Paul Reddam and Susan Roy, Wilko is winless in nine starts since pulling an upset in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park, his final start that year for trainer Jeremy Noseda. Craig Dollase, based at Hollywood Park, has trained Wilko for the past 16 months, a span that includes third-place finishes in five stakes.

While in Dubai, Wilko is being trained by Noseda, who has had a small stable here this winter.

The Dubai World Cup will have 11 entrants; post positions were to be drawn on Wednesday. The other runners are Kane Hekili and Star King Man from Japan; Maraahel from England; Chiquitin from Saudi Arabia; and Shakis from the United Arab Emirates.