11/26/2007 12:00AM

Next year for intriguing duo

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Not all the talented 3-year-olds are going to the breeding shed after all.

Two members of the 3-year-old class of 2007 - Daaher and Now a Victor - put in performances Saturday at Aqueduct that raised their profiles as 4-year-olds to watch in 2008.

Daaher, of course, was the more dynamic of the two, using his brilliant speed to upset Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute in Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile. It was the third straight victory for Daaher, a streak that began with a 13 3/4-length romp in a first-level allowance race going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga and continued with a dominant victory in the Grade 2 Jerome, a one-turn mile against 3-year-olds. The Cigar was also a one-turn mile. Daaher has earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in each win, including a 114 for the Cigar.

All three victories have been accomplished since trainer Kiaran McLaughlin added blinkers to Daaher's equipment following disappointing results in the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales in Canada.

"I've never seen a horse move up so much with blinkers added," McLaughlin said Monday morning. "I'm sure there are some in the history of time, but for this horse it's been incredible."

McLaughlin said Daaher came out of the Cigar "fabulous" and will be vanned to the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida later this week. McLaughlin plans to run Daaher in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 2 then, he hopes, the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 29. Last year, McLaughlin won both those races with defending Horse of the Year Invasor.

If McLaughlin feels the 1 1/4 miles of the World Cup may be too far, Daaher could instead run in the $2 million Godolphin Mile that same night. As of now, however, he does not foresee any distance limitations with Daaher, a son of the Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, who has sired Breeders' Cup winners Ghostzapper, Round Pond, and Ginger Punch. Daaher is a half-brother to the Grade 1-winning mare Spun Sugar.

"He did go a mile and an eighth and won impressively at Saratoga; obviously it was only an a-other-than," McLaughlin said. "He beat the clock and he ran unbelievable on numbers. He's by Awesome Again, who seems to throw horses who want distance."

Now a Victor won Saturday's Grade 3 Discovery Handicap by a 1 1/4 lengths over Shopton Lane and still showed some greenness associated with a colt who has made just four starts. But he is now 3 for 4 - with a neck loss in the Pegasus at the Meadowlands as his only blemish.

Trainer Michael Trombetta said on Monday he still was unsure where Now a Victor would run next, but said he is looking forward to watching him run wherever that start may occur.

"I do think there's still quite a bit of upside, " Trombetta said. "He's a horse you have to be excited about. He could be a real nice horse to have several months from now."

Mott on Derby and Oaks trails

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott capped an excellent year with his 2-year-old crop by sweeping the Remsen and Demoiselle Saturday with Court Vision and Mushka, respectively.

Both horses were scheduled to depart from New York for Mott's Payson Park barn on Wednesday to prepare for their 3-year-old campaigns. Though Court Vision, a son of Gulch, ran a slower time (1:52.48 for 1 1/8 miles) than did Mushka (1:51.61), he overcame a significant amount of trouble in the race to earn his third straight victory.

"Raw talent is important, but I think courage is equally as important," said Mott, who won 32 races with 2-year-olds this year. "That's one thing he certainly hasn't lacked. He hasn't been averse to coming through the traffic. He's already run fast enough early on in the season to make you think he's going to be okay."

Mott said he and WinStar Farm, the owners of Court Vision, have yet to map out a definitive plan to get Court Vision to the Derby on May 3. The Wood Memorial, likely to be run on April 5, is a possible spot for Court Vision's final prep considering it's run on the same track and at the same distance as the Remsen and gives a horse four weeks to the Kentucky Derby.

"I'm sure you can get by with a couple of races, but there may not be a reason not to start him more than that if he's doing fine and is sound, which he has been," Mott said. "If there's a good race and he's doing well, I don't know that you need to turn your nose up at it."

In 2006, WinStar used the Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Derby, and Blue Grass Stakes with Bluegrass Cat, who finished second in the Derby to Barbaro. However, Fair Grounds was not open then. Mott does have a stable at the Fair Grounds.

A program such as the Risen Star (Feb. 9) and Louisiana Derby (March 8) at Fair Grounds is a nice progression to the Wood. The Sam F. Davis (Feb. 16) and Tampa Bay Derby (March 15) are good stepping-stones to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland (April 12).

Meanwhile, Mott may also have a Kentucky Oaks filly on his hands in Mushka, who made a successful two-turn debut with a strong last-to-first move in the Demoiselle, a race she won by 4 1/2 lengths.

"She's been the trip - you got to be thinking about it," said Mott, who indicated he may look at the Fair Grounds races such as the Silverbulletday (Feb. 9) and Fair Grounds Oaks (March 8) for Mushka.

Arroyo rehires agent from his best days

Norberto Arroyo Jr. has reunited with agent Max Hall in hopes of turning back the clock some eight years when he was leading rider on this circuit.

Arroyo and Hall first came to New York for the winter of 1999-2000 when, as an apprentice, Arroyo was the second-leading rider over the inner track and finished 2000 as the leading rider in New York with 188 wins. Hall left Arroyo in late 2002 to return to Massachusetts to be with his family.

Over the years, Arroyo has fallen on hard times, getting in legal trouble, moving his tack in and out of New York, and switching agents with regularity. Arroyo, who had Jose Amy as his agent most recently, called Hall a week ago to ask he would be interested in working for him again.

"I said, 'Well, look, I can't put up with you not working,' Hall said. "He said, 'Listen, those days are gone. I was a kid then. I didn't want to listen to anybody.' He said 'I got too much success too soon I didn't know how to handle it.' He said 'I've experienced some rough times; now I got married, I got a little boy, and I realize that they depend on me.'"

Arroyo missed a good part of last year's winter meet due to injuries. He has been riding regularly since the fall and won eight races during the Aqueduct main track meet.

"I'm very optimistic," Hall said. "I'm happy to be back. We were a great team before. I can't see any reason why we can't duplicate it.