09/26/2006 11:00PM

McDynamo returns to action

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Two-time steeplechase champion McDynamo launches a comeback Friday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack in the Grade 2, $75,000 Somerset Medical Center Stakes. The Somerset is a 2 1/2-mile race over 10 National fences.

A 9-year-old gelding, McDynamo has made only one start this season, in the Grade 1 Royal Chase at Keeneland in April, when he pulled up after three-sixteenths of a mile as the 6-5 favorite.

"I really don't know why that was," said trainer Sanna Hendriks. "I don't have a great explanation. He did throw in one other clunker," Hendriks said, referring to a fourth in the 2004 Colonial Cup, "so two in the career that he's had is not too bad.

"His blood didn't come back perfect, with low potassium levels, but not as low as after the Colonial race. That could have done it."

The rest of McDynamo's campaign this year was wiped out when he came down with a fever before the Grade 1 Iroquois Stakes at Nashville in May. He was then sidelined by a foot abscess over the summer.

"Maybe there was more going on than I knew about," said Hendriks

Last year, McDynamo used the Somerset as a prep before capturing a third straight Breeders' Cup Steeplechase. Hendriks said he hopes the Somerset will give McDynamo enough foundation before she makes another bid in the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 28 at Far Hills, N.J. The Breeders' Cup carries a $250,000 purse and is the richest American jump race.

"I would say I've got him 85 percent fit," Hendriks said. "I'm gearing him up for Far Hills, so we're using this as a prep. He's fit enough to make a good presentation.

"I think it will be enough for the Breeders' Cup," he said. "He's done a lot of fox hunting over the early fall, and running in this race worked pretty darn well last year."

The 2005 Somerset was the Meadowlands's first steeplechase race in 25 years. The race unfolded with Preemptive Strike opening a huge, uncontested lead. McDynamo, 30 lengths behind at one stage, rallied for second, trimming the winner's final margin to five lengths.

"I don't envision that happening again," Hendriks said. "I don't think there are any speed demons in there. Not to take anything away from Preemptive Strike, but they let him have things pretty much his own way."

McDynamo had it all his way in the Breeders' Cup last year, setting the pace before rolling to a nine-length victory. He ended the campaign, and a second Eclipse Award, with another front-running score in the Grade 1 Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C.

McDynamo has been assigned high weight of 162 pounds with Jody Petty aboard. Mixed Up is next on the scale at 152 pounds. Danielle Hodsdon will ride for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

At 7, Mixed Up has blossomed this season. He has won his last three starts, including the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Handicap at Saratoga last time out.

"Mixed Up is the one to beat," Hendriks said. "Jonathan Sheppard has done a great job bringing him along. We have to give him some weight, and he's coming off a nice win in New York, and he's looking to be at the top of his game right now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out."

o The $55,000 King Bold Reality Stakes at five furlongs on grass was also slated for Friday, but it did not fill. The race was rescheduled for Saturday.