02/16/2007 12:00AM

Kickboard may like distance


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Horses do run 1 1/4 miles other than in the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup Classic.

On Sunday, six older runners will go 1 1/4 miles in Bay Meadows's feature race, a $32,000 optional claimer.

Only two of the six have run this far before. Kickboard ran 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 3 Premiers Handicap at Hastings in Vancouver last fall. Pinkhair ran 1 1/2 miles in a turf try at Hollywood Park in 2005.

"I like to see horses stretch out a bit," Bay Meadows racing secretary Tom Doutrich said. "I think trainers need to try to stretch horses out. You can increase a horse's value when they prove they can run a distance."

Carding the long race is part of Doutrich's strategy to offer horsemen a variety of opportunities.

"We try to keep it simple but give them a little different distance, conditions, and language," he said.

Trainer John Snow, who entered Kickboard, agreed with another of Doutrich's premises - that long races can be easier on horses than short ones.

"It's a bit of a gallop race until they head for home," Snow said. "That might be easier on horses."

The 1 1/4-mile distance might be ideal for Kickboard.

"He'll roll along nice and easy," Snow said. "He's not hard to rate, and he can keep going."

"We tried him a mile and three-eighths in a graded race, but that was on a bullring, where he went by the finish line four times. So it may not show what he can do at a distance."

Kickboard is content to sit back early and make a sustained run late. He rallied for second in his last start, nosing out Blacktie Tonight, who has since scored a game wire-to-wire victory.

Blacktie Tonight returns on Sunday, and could receive some pace pressure from Southern California invaders Get Off the Sugar and Black Spot, who is also coming off a wire-to-wire victory. None of the three has run farther than 1 1/16 miles on the main track, although the two Southern California runners have run 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

With the pace pressure, all three could fall victim to Kickboard in the lane.

* Twelve runners were nominated for Monday's $50,000-added President's Day Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. McCann's Mojave, coming off his Sunshine Millions Classic victory, was assigned top weight of 124 pounds. Two Jerry Hollendorfer-trained runners will run, Dr. Einstein, runner-up to McCann's Mojave twice, and the stakes winner Passive Income. The stakes winner Roscoe Pito also is expected to run.