06/21/2004 11:00PM

Pair from Dubai dangerous


ELMONT, N.Y. - Last spring, when Kiaran McLaughlin was training privately for the Maktoum family, he had a lot of success at the Belmont meet with horses shipping in from Dubai that were able to race on Lasix.

Though he opened a public stable last fall, McLaughlin still trains a few horses for the Maktoums. Two of those horses, Northern Rock and Cherry Pickings, are back in New York after wintering in Dubai and are entered in Thursday's $56,000 classified allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont.

A year ago, Northern Rock showed up in a similar spot and romped to a front-running, six-length victory while earning a lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure of 113. Northern Rock spent a majority of the rest of his stay here banging heads with Grade 1 winners Aldebaran, Medaglia d'Oro, and Mineshaft. He won a classified allowance on turf at Saratoga before ending his North American stint with a fifth-place finish in a dirt allowance last October.

Northern Rock raced three times in Dubai with no luck. Now back in North America, Northern Rock is back on Lasix and could be tough as the main speed under Richard Migliore.

"He definitely is a bleeder and the Lasix is a big plus for him,'' McLaughlin said.

has been in good form since last November, winning four of six starts.

"Cherry Pickings, I never was involved with, but it's nice to have him. He's training very well, and we're wanting to get him started,'' McLaughlin said. "One of the two or both might be a graded stakes horse or they both might be beaten allowance [condition] horses.''

was one of Northern Rock's victims here last June. Ground Storm, now 8, is coming off a second-place finish in a similar spot here on May 13.

Almuhathir has run some of his better races at Belmont, including a second-place finish last October when Northern Rock finished sixth. Last June, he won a classified allowance race at 98-1 making his second start off a two-month layoff. Thursday's race is his second start off a three-month layoff.

Prince Benjamin has run well his last two starts at Charles Town and could be a nuisance to Northern Rock on the front end.