02/10/2005 12:00AM

Repeat bid in Appleton

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Millennium Dragon, with Richard Migliore up, wins last year's Appleton.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Bringing together the defending champ, the world record holder at the distance, and one of the two best Hosts in the world figures to make Saturday's $100,000 Appleton Handicap one of the better turf stakes of the Gulfstream Park meeting. The Appleton will share top billing on Saturday's 11-race program with the $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap for fillies and mares on the grass.

led throughout to capture the 2004 edition of the one-mile Appleton. Mr. Light established a world record of 1:31.41 winning a third-level allowance race here opening day. The Chilean-bred Host has won graded stakes in his last two starts and is not to be confused with the American-born runner of the same name who captured the Mac Diarmida Stakes earlier in the meeting.

Millennium Dragon has gone winless in seven starts since his 1 1/4-length victory over Political Attack in last year's Appleton. An English bred son of Mark of Esteem, he did finish second in five of those seven outings, which included tough neck setbacks in both the Grade 3 Canadian Turf and Poker handicaps. He has not started since concluding a successful but somewhat frustrating 2004 campaign by finishing a fast-closing second behind Mr O'Brien in Belmont's Grade 2 Kelso Breeders' Cup on Oct. 9.

"There really wasn't anywhere to run after the Kelso, so we decided just to give him a little break," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He had a little bad luck last season, but he's a consistent horse who ran well most of the time and tries hard all the time."

Richard Migliore will be down from New York to keep his regular seat aboard Millennium Dragon in the Appleton.

rallied to a 2 3/4-length victory on opening day, establishing the world record for one mile on the turf. The race was re-clocked and re-calculated numerous times before becoming official. Mr. Light made two starts against graded stakes competition last season, finishing a tiring seventh in the Bernard Baruch Handicap and an even fifth in the Knickerbocker, both Grade 2 races.

will likely be the slight favorite and is the one to beat coming off victories in the Knickerbocker and Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Park Handicap, in which he outgamed Silver Tree by a neck following a long drive. The Appleton will be Host's first start at a mile since he finished second in his U.S. debut here one year ago.

Rounding out the lineup are Quest, Gulch Approval, Remind, Freefourinternet, Spruce Run, and Settle Up.