11/22/2006 12:00AM

Rob Roy tries again after unlucky trip


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Few horses had worse trips in the Breeders' Cup than Rob Roy, who broke slowly, was fanned widest of all entering the stretch, yet still finished fifth in the 14-horse field and was only a half-length away from second, all in his first start in this country.

The Mile marked his fourth attempt at a Grade 1 win this year. He's still seeking it. His search could end on Friday, though, when Rob Roy comes back just 20 days after the Breeders' Cup in the Grade 1, $400,000 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park.

A dozen entered the 1 1/16-mile Citation, which is the first of three Grade 1 turf races that will be run during Hollywood Park's turf festival this weekend. There are 11 betting interests, since Courtnall and Hendrix - both trained by Craig Dollase and owned by Paul Reddam - are coupled.

Rob Roy has top-class credentials. He won a Group 2 race in England in his first start of the year, then raced against that continent's elite the rest of the year. His best performance in Great Britain was a second-place finish in the Champion Stakes. He then came to Churchill Downs for the Mile.

"He arrived in very good condition," said Neil Drysdale, who took over as Rob Roy's trainer from Michael Stoute after the Breeders' Cup. "He did not have the best of trips in the Breeders' Cup. We thought we'd give him one more run because things went a bit sideways in the Breeders' Cup. Then we'll put him away for the winter. He's been doing well since he got here."

Rob Roy drew well, landing post 2.

Drysdale also sends out Becrux, who has two wins and a second in three starts since being gelded. He most recently won the Woodbine Mile, defeating Citation rivals Sweet Return and Three Valleys.

Becrux and Rob Roy are co-highweights at 119 pounds with Ashkal Way, who shipped from New York in search of his third straight win following victories in the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga and Kelso at Belmont Park. He is 5 for 6 in this country since arriving from Great Britain by way of Dubai.

"I don't know how the horses he's been facing in the East match up with the ones he'll face here, but he handles any course, and a mile and sixteenth is a good distance for him," said Rick Mettee, who has overseen Ashkal Way's training as the New York-based assistant to Saeed bin Suroor. "This seemed like a good spot for him. It'll be his last run of the year, then he'll to go Florida."

Ashkal Way skipped the Breeders' Cup Mile because Godolphin, which owns him, opted instead to go with Echo of Light and Librettist that day.

Ashkal Way drew poorly, landing post 11. That's one better, though, than Three Valleys, who is marooned on the far outside, yet has a strong chance off his best.

Three Valleys was seventh in the Woodbine Mile and sixth in the Shadwell Mile in his last two starts. But he was beaten a total of just 5 1/2 lengths in those two races, and his trainer, Bobby Frankel, believes he will perform better on the Hollywood Park turf, over which Three Valleys finished third in the Citation in his United States debut two years ago.

"He probably should have been second the other day," Frankel said, referring to the Shadwell Mile, in which Three Valleys missed second by a neck in a blanket finish for the runner-up spot. "He was right with the winner on the turn, but the winner split horses and I came around eight wide."

Frankel also said Three Valleys missed some training prior to the Woodbine Mile because of poor weather in the East.

"He likes it here," Frankel said. "He likes firm turf."

Silent Name led to midstretch in the Breeders' Cup Mile before tiring late to finish sixth, just a neck behind Rob Roy. In his lone prior start at Hollywood Park, he was third behind the top-class milers Aragorn and Charmo in the Shoemaker Mile in May.

Whilly is making only his second start since traveling to Dubai in March. He won the American Handicap over this course last year.