10/04/2006 11:00PM

Not much to challenge Aragorn here


ARCADIA, Calif. - , the top turf miler in the United States, will have to wait a month to find a formidable opponent in a major stakes this fall. He will be facing a moderate field in an attempt to win his fourth consecutive stakes in Saturday's $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

The race is Aragorn's final start before the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Aragorn has risen to the top of his division with impressive wins in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park in May and two stakes wins at Del Mar - the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap in July and the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Mile on Aug. 26.

None of the other seven horses entered in the Oak Tree Mile has won a stakes this year.

Getting this far with Aragorn is not a surprise to trainer Neil Drysdale.

"We've always held him the highest esteem," Drysdale said, noting that Aragorn's first race this year came in a Grade 1 stakes, the Kilroe Mile.

Aragorn lost the Kilroe by a head and was second in the San Francisco Mile in April, his only losses in six stakes in the United States. Owned by Ballygallon Stud, the 4-year-old Aragorn has won 5 of 12 starts and $945,325.

Drysdale said that Aragorn "might be a bit more relaxed" since his summer races. In his Del Mar races, he was third for the first six furlongs, racing two to six lengths off the pace before moving closer to the leaders on the second turn.

"He can run on the pace or off the pace," Drysdale said.

The Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile, the third race on a 10-race program, drew a field of eight, but is likely to have fewer starters. Some of the entrants are likely to be redirected to the $60,000 War Chant Stakes on Monday. Apalachee Ridge, who finished fifth in the Phil Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 9, has drawn post 4 in the Oak Tree Mile, but is more likely to run in the War Chant, trainer John Sadler said.

Among the other entrants are Buckland Manor, second and third in the last two runnings of this race; Lord Admiral, who has placed in eight stakes in Dubai and Ireland this year while going winless; and Wild Buddy, second to Aragorn in the Del Mar BC Mile.

That's an Outrage will start as an outsider in the Oak Tree Mile. Trainer Mike Puhich respects Aragorn, but feels the division leader is worth taking on. "If it was a done deal, they'd write them a check right now," Puhich said.

That's an Outrage, 5, has won 2 of 28 starts and $208,630. He has not started since finishing fifth in an optional claimer at Del Mar in July.

Puhich is dreaming of an upset, but said "third or better is great."