03/01/2007 12:00AM

Rigattieri coupling strong in Horatius


Saratoga Lulaby and Alruncojump, stablemates who competed in back-to-back races at Laurel Park last month, provide a potent one-two punch for trainer John Rigattieri in Saturday's $90,000 Horatius Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

Dyn Panell, who rides first call for Rigattieri, is the regular rider for Saratoga Lulaby and Alruncojump, and has been named as the rider of both parts of the coupled entry, the strong 3-2 favorite on the track's morning line.

Which horse Panell ultimately chooses to ride in the six-furlong Horatius seems a tough decision, though fortunately for bettors, they will get both for the price of one.

"I'm 99 percent sure we're going to start both horses on Saturday," said Rigattieri's assistant, Tony Barreira.

On Feb. 3, Alruncojump cleared his first allowance condition, coming from off the pace to win a six-furlong sprint in 1:11.90.

One race later, Saratoga Lulaby had a clear lead through six furlongs in 1:12.16 of the one-mile Miracle Wood before grudgingly giving way late to finish second, 15 lengths clear of third-place Place Your Bet, another Horatius contender, who is trained by Scott Lake.

Rigattieri has done well with horses cutting back from routes to sprints at Laurel, winning with 10 of 52 starters (19 percent) with a $2.21 return on investment since January 2005.

Saratoga Lulaby has improved since he was stretched out to a mile for his last three starts, although he did win his maiden going six furlongs at Suffolk Downs last October.

Call Me Clash appears to be the sharper of Lake's two uncoupled horses. Since he was transferred to Lake's barn, Call Me Clash has romped in a first-level allowance locally and set the pace until deep stretch of a high-priced optional claimer at Philadelphia Park.

Heart Throbbin', returning from a two-month layoff, won the Dancing Count on New Year's Day, and faced two Triple Crown prospects - Adore the Gold and Hard Spun - in his previous two starts, managing a second against Hard Spun in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park.

To win the Horatius, Heart Throbbin' will have to run considerably faster than he has so far in his 10-race career. The 73 Beyer Speed Figure that Heart Throbbin' earned for his win in the Dancing Count is more than 10 points lower than either Call Me Clash or Saratoga Lulaby earned in their most recent races.