05/22/2008 12:00AM

Madeo aiming for Swaps after Alydar


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The career arc of Madeo is going up - and fast.

Saturday, the 3-year-old colt makes his stakes debut in the $75,000 Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park, a race that owner-breeders Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs hope will lead to a start in the $350,000 Swaps Stakes on July 12.

Madeo has won his last two starts convincingly, a maiden race over seven furlongs by 6o1/4 lengths at Santa Anita on March 23 and a first-condition allowance race over 1 1/16 miles by 1 1/4 lengths here on April 30.

"He seems to handle the challenges thrown at him," Shirreffs said. "He looks like he has the ability to settle and make a nice run. He's an intense horse, but not a nervous horse. He likes to get it on. He doesn't stand around."

The Alydar Stakes is run over 1 1/8 miles, making it the longest race of Madeo's career. The Alydar Stakes is run over the same distance as the Swaps, which made Saturday's race attractive to Shirreffs.

"If he does well, he can come back in the Swaps," Shirreffs said. "He can run the distance a second time. It could be a confidence builder."

Madeo made his debut on March 1, finishing a closing fifth in a maiden race. He was nominated to the Triple Crown but was never considered for the races because of a slow start to his career.

"He was late getting off the farm," Shirreffs said.

Madeo is part of a field of six 3-year-olds, four of whom are making their stakes debuts. The lone stakes winner in the field is Harlene, who pulled a 33-1 upset in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for statebreds over 1 1/8 miles on April 27 at Hollywood. The Snow Chief was the first victory of Harlene's career. He lost his first six starts.

Trained by Doug O'Neill, Harlene did not run quickly in the Snow Chief - earning a 77 Beyer Speed Figure - but he did win at 1 1/8 miles.

"It's going to be a small field," O'Neill said of the Alydar. "He likes the track. We need to take advantage of it."

Pistol Pete Afleet is the other runner with stakes experience, finishing fifth in the La Puente Stakes on turf at Santa Anita on April 12. He finished seventh in an optional claimer over a mile on turf here on May 8, the day he was claimed for $80,000 by Stephen Campbell and trainer Jorge Periban.