08/13/2009 11:00PM

Mach Ride back to the races

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MIAMI - Mach Ride hasn't won a race in more than two years nor run at all in nearly 19 months, but the former Grade 2 winner still figures to be the public's choice when he makes his much-anticipated return in Sunday's $34,000 allowance feature at Calder.

Mach Ride was the king of the local sprint division during the summer of 2007 after winning the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap. He was also on target to run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint later that fall following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh only to see that chance slip away because of a foot injury suffered a week before the race.

Mach Ride returned to make two starts during January of 2008 before the injury bug struck again. He has been sidelined ever since. Trained by Steve Standridge throughout his 17-race career, Mach Ride will return to racing for Standridge's former assistant Peter Gulyas on Sunday.

"It's tough to say what shape he's in right now," said Gulyas, who gallops Mach Ride on a regular basis. "He's been working well, but breezing is different than a race. He'll probably need one, but he's got a lot of class, so he definitely has a chance to win. We'll be a lot smarter about him on Monday morning."

Gulyas knows something about getting on good horses. Before returning to Calder and hooking up with Standridge, he worked for Carl Nafzger and was the regular exercise rider for Street Sense at Palm Meadows in the months leading up to his 2007 Kentucky Derby victory. Although Gulyas gallops Mach Ride on a daily basis, Manoel Cruz has been aboard for all his recent works.

"Manny really likes him and said he was ready after his last work," said Gulyas. "There are a lot of good horses in this field, so we'll see. The main thing is that he comes back out of the race okay. Then we can start making some plans for him down the road."

While Gulyas is Mach Ride's trainer of record on Sunday, Standridge remains a big part of the team and has overseen his former star's training over the past several months.

"He looks excellent and appears to be training just like he did back in his prime," said Standridge, who retired from training earlier this year because of issues with his workers' compensation insurance. "Whether he still runs that way remains to be seen. He's 6 now and a stud horse, so we'll have to watch what happens and see how he performs in the afternoon."

Mach Ride, who has posted four consecutive bullet works in preparation for his return, will face a field that includes stakes-caliber performers such as Dream Maestro and Green Vegas, along with Pechito and the Barry Rose-trained entry of Rexson's Rose and Make Me Zach.

Dream Maestro will turn back to a sprint off a steady diet of two-turn races. A 4-year-old son of Concerto, he has held his own with the top handicap horses on the grounds for the past year and has been graded stakes placed on three occasions during that period. Dream Maestro's lone victory in 2009 came at Gulfstream Park on April 1, when he rallied to defeat Da' Tara going 1 1/8 miles under second-level optional claiming and allowance conditions.

* Gulyas tuned up for Sunday's main event by sending out the first- and second-place finishers in Friday's sixth race. Aerin She Lovely dominated the bottom-level maiden claimer for fillies and mares, drawing off through the stretch under jockey Luis Colon, while La Dolfina rallied belatedly to be second.