03/13/2008 12:00AM

Mile may again prove too far for Sky Cape


ARCADIA, Calif. - The third time might be the charm for Sky Cape, a good turf sprinter whose ability to stay one mile will be questioned again Saturday in the two-turn, $75,000 Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita.

Ten 3-year-olds will race a mile on grass in the Pasadena, and Sky Cape could be the most vulnerable favorite on the card. It is not a knock on his ability, only his dubious stamina. Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Sky Cape finished first or second in his last four turf starts, including a sharp runner-up finish last out in the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The 2-for-10 Sky Cape frittered away soft trips in both previous starts at one mile, however. It happened Oct. 26 when he finished second in the restricted Pinjara Stakes - he lost by a neck after pressing easy fractions.

Following a dull main-track race, Sky Cape returned to grass Dec. 29 in the Eddie Logan Stakes. He pressed another walking pace (49.80 seconds and 1:14.08), held a one-length lead at the furlong pole, but was run over late by Yankee Bravo, who flattered the race by winning again next out.

Sky Cape shortened to a sprint for his next two starts and produced the best efforts of his career. He crushed first-level allowance foes by 2 1/4 lengths Jan. 17, then was second in the Grade 3 Baldwin on March 2, finishing nearly three clear of third.

Based on those sprints, Sky Cape and jockey Corey Nakatani are the ones to beat Saturday in the Pasadena. There is little doubt Sky Cape is the best horse in the race. His sketchy two-turn form makes him only a tepid choice, though. The dilemma is finding an alternative.

Afleet Ruler ran super with a wide trip last out in a main-track allowance that was his first route. He was passively ridden and fell nearly eight lengths behind a leisurely pace (49.79 seconds and 1:14.17). Afleet Ruler uncorked a wide move the far turn and finished well to miss by only 3 1/2 lengths in a race dominated by speed.

If he handles grass, Afleet Ruler can upset. Other contenders in the Pasadena include Polonious, stretching out off a troubled sprint comeback, and Rhetorically, who won his last two turf routes but is stuck in post 10.

Ez Dreamer, Grasberg, Meer Kat, Rivergrade Boy, Funny Me, and Bayngen Bartok are also entered. The Pasadena is race 8, immediately preceding the Grade 2 San Felipe.