10/05/2005 11:00PM

Singletary racing with a lot to prove

Don Chatlos (left), trainer of Singletary, with Billy Koch, managing partner of the group that owns the horse

ARCADIA, Calif. - Regardless of whether Singletary wins Saturday's $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita, the rest of October will weigh heavily on the mind of his trainer, Don Chatlos.

If wins Saturday's important prep to the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, Chatlos can already imagine what the critics will say of his 5-year-old.

"For three weeks, I'll have to deal with, 'He's never won two races in a row,' " Chatlos said.

If Singletary loses Saturday's race, there will be doubts about whether he can be competitive against the red-hot Leroidesanimaux, who will be a strong favorite in the BC Mile.

Chatlos said he expects Singletary to run well Saturday and then be ready to defend his championship in the BC Mile.

"We'll be ready," Chatlos said. "We'll make it competitive."

Owned by the Little Red Feather partnership, Singletary will be favored in the Oak Tree Mile, which has drawn a field of six.

The other entrants are , who won the 2003 Oak Tree Mile but has not started since winning the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park in May 2004; Buckland Manor, who finished second to Leroidesanimaux in the Kilroe Mile in March; King of Happiness, who was second in the American Handicap in July; and We All Love Aleyna and Wild Buddy, who were second and third in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap last month.

and Buckland Manor are expected to set the pace, which would be an ideal scenario for Singletary. In recent starts, Singletary has raced just behind the leaders. It worked when he won the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap in April, but failed when he was fourth in the Shoemaker Mile in May and third in the Eddie Read Handicap in July.

"He will take back and he will finish," Chatlos said. "He won't be up on the pace. That's not what he wants to do. He won't be way back, but he'll be in a comfortable spot. We're looking to be ready in three weeks."

Singletary has not started since finishing third in the Eddie Read, 1 1/2 lengths behind Sweet Return. "It seems like forever since he last ran," Chatlos said.

Even though Buckland Manor has shown speed, trainer Paco Gonzalez said he does not want Buckland Manor too eager in the first half of the race. The Oak Tree Mile is Buckland Manor's first start since a sixth in the Shoemaker Mile in May.

"It's hard to take him back, but I don't want him to be on the lead," Gonzalez said.

Designed for Luck and King of Happiness will not be far from the front. Designed for Luck stalked the pace in the 2004 Shoemaker Mile, drawing off to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

"I'll be surprised if he's not on the board," said Cerin. "I'd like to have him a little more fit. He's probably about 90 percent fit.

"I'd like for him to run really well and be ready for the Citation," Cerin said, referring to a Grade 1 handicap on turf at Hollywood Park in November. "He's better mentally now than he's ever been, and he's 100 percent sound physically."

The field

Oak Tree BC Mile
Purse: $250,000; 1 mile turf; Grade 2

1We All Love AleynaG. Gomez9-2
2Wild BuddyT. Baze 8-1
3SingletaryD. Flores2-1
4Designed for LuckV. Espinoza6-1
5Buckland ManorK. Desormeaux9-2
6King of HappinessC. Nakatani5-2

* All starters carry 119 pounds
* Odds by Michael Hammersly
* Television: Saturday, 6-7 p.m.. (Eastern), ESPN2