06/28/2006 11:00PM

Rehoboth drops into cozy spot


MIAMI - After facing some of the top 3-year-old competition in Florida this winter in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, and taking on older horses in his last two starts, Rehoboth appears to have found a nice spot for his first stakes victory in Saturday's $45,000 Ride the Rails Stakes at Calder.

The 1 1/16-mile Ride the Rails shares top billing on the 13-race program with the $45,000 Arthur L. Stakes, carded at 1 1/2 miles on the turf for older horses.

Rehoboth has turned in some big efforts since turning 3 this year, upsetting Fabled by a widening 3 3/4 lengths in his 2006 debut before finishing a troubled fifth, less than two lengths behind Corinthian, in the Fountain of Youth. He was no match for Barbaro after getting bumped early in the Florida Derby, but bounced back to finish third in the Unbridled Stakes before defeating older horses under third-level allowance conditions on a sloppy track on May 26.

Rehoboth will be making the same turf-to-dirt switch in the Ride the Rails that paid dividends for him when he beat Fabled on Jan. 14, a win that came less than two weeks after he finished far behind Barbaro in the Tropical Park Derby on grass. Rehoboth was seventh, beaten 13 1/2 lengths against older horses in the Band Is Passing Stakes on June 18.

The field in the Ride the Rails also includes Big Lover, Thanks Dubya, El Lobo, Spikeavellian, and Ready More.

Like Rehoboth, Big Lover finished far back on turf in his last start, the Lord Juban Stakes, and will try to rebound while returning on only one week of rest. A son of Ecton Park, Big Lover had won his two previous starts, both on the main track, including a come-from-behind half-length score against Thanks Dubya.

El Lobo is the most intriguing member of the field. He won his first two starts at Tampa Bay Downs this winter before being overmatched by Deputy Glitters and Bluegrass Cat in the Tampa Bay Derby. El Lobo has trained extremely well for his return over the past five weeks, with three bullets works dating back to June 6.

A field of seven signed on for the 1 1/2 mile Arthur L., which serves as a prep for the $200,000 Bob Umphrey Stakes at two miles on July 15.

Tacit Agreement and the long-winded mare India Halo finished second and third, respectively, going 1 3/8 miles on the grass in the Mataji Stakes on June 9 and might vie for favoritism if the race goes on turf as scheduled.

A. J. Melini was a handy winner of the Maryland My Maryland and the 1 1/2-mile New York New York Stakes in his last two starts, but he has yet to hit the board in three tries on turf.

Supervisor would be making his first start since a fifth in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28 if he goes in the Arthur L., though like A. J. Melini, he appears much better suited to dirt than turf.