05/05/2010 11:00PM

Last race by Academy Run looks good

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Though Academy Run fell a nose short in his last start, the race wasn't a total loss.

Academy Run showed the ability to sit behind another horse in that Feb. 27 race, something his connections believe could go a long way in any future success the 4-year-old gelding may enjoy. Friday, Academy Run returns to the races off a 2 1/2-month layoff in a first-level allowance race going a mile over Belmont Park's outer turf course.

Last November, Academy Run went gate to wire over a soft Aqueduct turf course to win his maiden by eight lengths. In his first start against winners, on Jan. 6 at Gulfstream, Academy Run set honest fractions, but blew a 2 1/2-length lead in the stretch to finish fourth, beaten three lengths.

"It looks like he doesn't want a whole lot further than a mile,'' said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg.

In his next start, Academy Run sat in second position about two lengths off the pace before taking the lead in midstretch. He appeared on his way to victory until Dynamoor ran him down in the final strides. The race proved productive in that Dynamoor came back to run second in last weekend's Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont. Roman Tiger, the third-place finisher, came back to win a $100,000 stakes for Florida-breds on closing day at Gulfstream Park, while War Hoot, the fourth-place finisher from that Feb. 27 race, came back to win a first-level allowance race at Keeneland.

Academy Run was entered to run in an allowance race on opening day at Keeneland but had to scratch when he ran a fever. Academy Run has breezed four times since, including a solid half-mile in 47.80 seconds at Belmont on April 28.

Smullen is hopeful that Edgar Prado can get Academy Run off the pace on Friday. There are several horses trying turf for the first time that showed speed on dirt, including Ricoriatoa and Most Happy Fella.

Syo Defenceman has two wins and a second from his last three starts and was purchased privately by Salvatore Russo after his last start, and turned over to Jeff Odintz.

Kent Desormeaux, who won a starter allowance aboard the horse in February, rides Syo Defenceman. Soldier Field, a horse Desormeaux used to ride for Bill Mott, will have the services of Ramon Dominguez.

Xodo and Zifzaf are other contenders.