11/03/2009 12:00AM

Off layoff, Solar Flare begins fall campaign


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Solar Flare, who has shown flashes of brilliance in 10 starts since coming to the United States, heads a field of seven older males at Aqueduct in Wednesday's $65,000 Half High overnight stakes at one mile on the main track.

Scratched from a sloppy renewal of the recent Meadowlands Cup, Solar Flare returns from a four-month layoff and makes his first start for Tony Dutrow, who took over Solar Flare from the retiring Larry Jones.

A 5-year-old Argentine-bred by Salt Lake, Solar Flare showed enough in his first two U.S. starts to be made the favorite in the 2008 Whitney Handicap. He came out of the race with a wrenched ankle, however, and aggravated the injury several weeks later in the Owners' Day Handicap over a sloppy track at Delaware Park.

Solar Flare has recorded six workouts on Aqueduct's main track since early September, punctuated by back-to-back bullets.

"I got him about two months ago," said Dutrow. "He's a fast horse, and he's training good on the outer. He's telling me he's looking forward to running, so I think he's ready to run to his capabilities."

Those capabilities include a win in the Frisk Me Now at Monmouth Park in May with a 111 Beyer Figure, which is tied for the fourth-fastest dirt route nationwide this year.

"I was thinking it could be in his best interests to stretch out on the inner track," said Dutrow. "He's got natural speed, and he could be a factor this winter."

Among those set to oppose Solar Flare in a potentially salty event are Da' Tara, who has lost 10 in a row since wiring the 2008 Belmont Stakes for Nick Zito; Timber Reserve, winner of the 2007 Pennsylvania Derby for John Kimmel; Gold Trippi, who was scratched from Saturday's Grade 3 Bold Ruler by Stanley Hough; Eddie C., a 10-time winner based at Bowie with Chris Grove; Mt. Glittermore, who makes his first start for Gary Contessa; and More Than a Reason, who was second in a starter handicap in the slop here opening day for Randi Persaud.

"The rail wasn't that good, and he got stuck inside," said Persaud, who will be running More Than a Reason for the 21st time this year.

"He's a 4-year-old who eats good, does everything good," said Persaud. "I train him light; less training, more racing."