05/25/2007 12:00AM

Silent Name giving dirt a try


ELMONT, N.Y. - Racing on a synthetic surface has prolonged the career of the Japanese-bred Silent Name.

Now, the connections of Silent Name are hoping that the son of Sunday Silence will transfer his turf and synthetic surface form to conventional dirt when he runs in Monday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Silent Name, trained by Gary Mandella, arrived in New York from Southern California on Friday for Monday's marquee event, which is expected to draw a superlative nine-horse field, including Lawyer Ron, Silver Wagon, Sun King, and Latent Heat.

According to Mandella, Silent Name was going to be retired after racing in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs last fall. While at Keeneland, Silent Name showed an affinity for the synthetic surface. After his disappointing efforts in the Shadwell and BC Mile, his connections decided to keep him in training for another year.

Mandella said that one morning before the Shadwell, he and two advisers from owner Frank Stronach's staff watched Silent Name train over the synthetic surface and were taken aback by "how easily he moved over that surface."

"We all talked about that this is something he really likes, but really didn't make much of it because we had plans to retire him," Mandella said. "When he didn't end the year as well as we would have liked, we talked about whether we should leave him in training or not. We said, 'Hey that horse looked awfully good at Keeneland, maybe the seven-eighths race is something we should point to.' "

The seven-eighths race was the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup on April 14, which Silent Name won by four lengths. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

"He ran as well as we could have ever wanted him to, we were thrilled with that," Mandella said. "Once he did that, it made figuring out the next couple of races very easy. You're going to want to try the Met, we have the Triple Bend at Hollywood at seven-eighths, the Pat O'Brien at seven-eighths at Del Mar over the synthetic surfaces."

Though the Met will be Silent Name's first start on conventional dirt, Mandella said the horse trained well over it in Southern California before Hollywood Park went to Cushion Track.

"He seemed to train well enough on it, but at the time he was doing well in his mile grass races," Mandella said. "He's very well bred and he's got a lot of ability and if he runs well in the Met Mile, it's going to mean a whole lot to his stud career."

Harlington returns as a winner

After more than a year on the shelf, Harlington returned to the races a winner Thursday, taking an allowance race by 3 1/4 lengths. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.03 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

The win was the first start for Harlington since he suffered an ankle injury while finishing fourth in the Pimlico Special in May 2006. Prior to that, he won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

On Thursday, Harlington raced in a stalking position before making his winning move along the rail in the stretch.

"I was pleased; he was into the race early, he put himself into a good position; the fractions were very solid," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He has a tendency to wait a little bit when he makes the lead, but I thought he was more focused than before."

Since Harlington prefers distances longer than 1 1/8 miles, Pletcher said it is possible he could run back in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on June 30, where he would most likely face defending Horse of the Year Invasor.

"It's a possibility, we'll kind of look over the calendar," Pletcher said. "Obviously, I don't think anyone's going to be excited about running against Invasor, but I do think a mile and a quarter will suit him."

Friendly Island retired

While Pletcher welcomed one graded stakes winner back to his barn, he bid adieu to another. Friendly Island, a multiple graded stakes-winning New York-bred sprinter, has been retired after suffering an ankle injury, Pletcher said Friday.

"Basically, he's going to need three to four months off and the timing is just not such that we could get him back in time for the Breeders' Cup or anything like that," Pletcher said.

Friendly Island, a son of Crafty Island, had a record of 8 wins from 19 starts and he earned $1,369,714 for Stuart and Anita Subotnick's Anstu Stables. Friendly Island won his debut by 17 1/4 lengths on June 5, 2004, and won six of his first eight starts, including two editions of the Hudson Handicap for New York-breds.

Last year, Friendly Island finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and in March he finished second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad al Sheba. His other stakes wins include the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita, and the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico.

"Very nice horse, good looking, talented," Pletcher said. "Hopefully, he'll get a chance as a stallion somewhere."

The Green Monkey back in training

The Green Monkey, who sold for a world-record $16 million at auction as a 2-year-old in 2006, recently returned to Pletcher's stable. The unstarted son of Forestry has been galloping here for about 10 days, but Pletcher said he is still "several weeks" away from a breeze.

Pletcher stopped on The Green Monkey last fall after he pulled a hind-end muscle.

Brushed Bayou takes Caress

Brushed Bayou, under Javier Castellano, swept past pace-setting Runaway Cat in midstretch en route to a 1 1/4-length victory in Friday's $68,650 Caress Stakes for fillies and mares.

Queen Amira, under Garrett Gomez, got up in the final strides to nose out Runaway Cat for second. Lemon Drop Gal, the even-money favorite, finished fourth.

Brushed Bayou, a 4-year-old daughter of Broad Brush owned by Rayzin the Bar Stables and trained by Christophe Clement, covered the six furlongs in 1:08.05 and returned $8.90.