06/30/2006 12:00AM

Remarkable News solid replacement


ELMONT, N.Y. - Mr. Light was one of the top milers in the country in 2005 before owner Earle Macke retired him and sold him to Mill Ridge Farm as a stallion. It left a void in Angel Penna Jr.'s barn that the trainer seemingly has already filled.

Remarkable News has the appearance of another top miler and looms the horse to beat in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap, scheduled for one mile on Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course.

Penna won last year's Poker with Mr. Light, whose time of 1:32.18 was the second fastest of 20 Pokers run at this distance. Earlier in the year, Mr. Light set a world record by running one mile in 1:31.41 at Gulfstream Park.

While Penna is hesitant to put Remarkable News in Mr. Light's class, the horse has won 5 of 7 career starts, including his last three. In the beginning of the year, Remarkable News was winning from off the pace. In his last two starts, including a nose victory in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup at Woodbine, he has gone gate to wire.

"I think he's better with a target,'' Penna said Friday.

. In Vicarage's only prior grass start, he pressed a strong pace in a one-mile allowance race before fading to last.

Around the Cape, trained by Bill Mott, will try to stretch out to a mile after winning the Grade 3 Jaipur Handicap in a stakes-record time of 1:07.31 for six furlongs.

"He had run well going seven-eighths on the main track in the Swale Stakes,'' Mott said. "I believe the turf is going to carry him a little further. The big question is if he gets the mile. I sort of need to know now. It'll help map out of the rest of the year.''

Todd Pletcher, who trains Vicarage, also sends out Willard Straight, who was beaten a neck by Mr. Light in last year's Poker. Pletcher will add blinkers to Willard Straight in hopes of getting him into the race earlier.

"There's sort of a balancing act there getting him to lay close enough that he's not at a disadvantage, but not so close that it takes away his late kick,'' Pletcher said. "Hopefully the blinkers will take care of that.''

is 3 for 3 on the Widener Turf Course. Rebel Rebel's only win in six North American starts came in a one-mile allowance race at Belmont last fall.