01/07/2004 12:00AM

Kathir should get trip

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Kathir, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, pulls ahead of Certantee in a July 6 win at Belmont.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Kiaran McLaughlin's fast start to the 2004 meeting should get even faster when he sends out Kathir against nine rivals in Friday's $40,000 allowance feature on the turf.

McLaughlin, who has spent the last 10 winters in Dubai, won two races on opening weekend, including the Appleton Handicap with Millennium Dragon. He also captured Calder's Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap the previous week with Volga.

Like McLaughlin, Kathir has spent the past several winters in Dubai, but the horse came to the United States this summer and posted a win and two seconds against high-priced claiming competition in New York. Both losses came at the hands of Warleigh, who was in the midst of a five-race win streak. In his most recent start, Kathir stepped up to run in a strong field of allowance horses and finished a tiring fifth behind Request for Parole after pressing the early pace.

Kathir has not missed a beat during training at Palm Meadows since his arrival in south Florida. He figures to get a perfect trip under John Velazquez either on or just off the pace of the seemingly overmatched Blue Grey.

Allen Jerkens also got his meet off to a quick start, winning three races opening day, including the Hal's Hope Handicap. The Hall of Fame trainer sends out Justification in Friday's main event, but unlike Kathir, who is a grass specialist, Justification will be making only his second career start on turf.

The most consistent and hottest member of the starting lineup is Mister Blister, who has put together a four-race win streak while improving his Beyer Speed Figure by 2 points with each victory. Trained by Harry Benson, Mister Blister had to overcome traffic troubles to win his last two starts, and he will be picking up eight pounds under the allowance conditions of the race.

The sentimental favorite may be Mr. Pleasentfar, a 7-year-old who has had six different trainers over the last two years. He won a similar allowance race on the grass here last winter when he was trained by Raja Majek. A graded stakes winner, Mr. Pleasentfar will be saddled by Steve Klesaris for the first time on Friday.

Sea Pleasure returns to the allowance ranks for the first time since the 2003 Gulfstream meeting. He will try to regain the form that saw him capture a pair of stakes, including the Americana Handicap, against older horses last summer at Calder.

Military Man, Deeliteful Guy, Alphabetical, and Autonomy round out the field.