01/25/2008 1:00AM

Run Red Run tough on drop


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After knocking heads with some of the leading New York-breds in his last three outings, Run Red Run looks poised to snare his first stakes victory Sunday in the $65,000 Turnofthecentury Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/16-mile race feature drew a field of seven.

This will be the easiest spot for Run Red Run since the 5-year-old gray gelding scored a first-level allowance win in open company at Belmont Park in September.

He hit the board in his last three starts, all in stakes restricted to statebreds. The run started with a third in the Empire Classic, then a second in the Mellow Roll, and it concluded with a third in the Alex M. Robb Handicap on Dec. 30. Run Red Run posted Beyer Speed Figures ranging from 86 to 92 in that span, clearly stamping him the one to beat in this spot.

"The horse really seems to be coming up to the race really well," trainer Tom Bush said. "I'm actually happy to run him back a little closer than we have in the last couple of starts. I'm hoping that it will help because there were gaps between some of his races due to the scheduling of the [statebred] races more than any other mitigating circumstances."

In each of the last three outings, Run Red Run had a narrow lead in the lane.

"Circumstances had us in positions where I thought we moved a little earlier than what we probably needed," said Bush. "It seems that when he makes the lead, he does turn off a little bit. It will be in Ramon's hands. He knows what to do."

Ramon Dominguez, Aqueduct's leading rider, will be aboard for the first time. Run Red Run, who has good tactical speed, will break from the rail.

"Things are all pointing in a positive direction," Bush said.

French Transition, sixth in the Robb, will try to improve on that effort with the addition of blinkers by trainer Frank Martin.

Completing the field are Run With the Lark, Morning Perks, Platinum Couple, R Clear Victory, and Love Abroad.

McCauley to resume comeback

Herb McCauley, 50, returned to the saddle last fall after a lengthy rehabilitation from a severely broken leg suffered in a spill at Monmouth Park in 1998.

A winner of 3,044 races, he won 10 races from 87 mounts last fall in New Jersey and New York, including a three-win day at Aqueduct on Oct. 24.

McCauley has not ridden since Dec. 30 at the Big A, blaming the absence on commuting fatigue. He found the daily trip from his home near Monmouth to Aqueduct a punishing grind.

"The commuting stuff was a little too much," McCauley said. "The commute became like a second job. Going back and forth just wore me out, so I took a little personal time off and I'm ready to come back next week."

Exactly where he'll make his return is still undecided.

If he continues at Aqueduct, McCauley will relocate to cut down on travel time. Philadelphia Park offers an easier commute from New Jersey and competitive purses.

"I rode my first winner there but back then it was called Keystone," McCauley said. "That's one of the options out there."

Or he might try a different circuit out of the immediate area.

"I'm sitting on a decision right now," McCauley said. "It's not like I made a comeback to make a statement, and then quit. I'm still in shape, and I work out every day. I'm busting out of my skin right now to be back on the racetrack."