08/09/2005 12:00AM

Softer spot for General Jumbo


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The name General Jumbo was bandied about in the last week as a possible starter in the Secretariat Stakes, though Niall O'Callaghan, the horse's trainer, suggested General Jumbo would have been given serious consideration only if the Secretariat had started to fray. Instead, O'Callaghan has picked out a plum spot for General Jumbo: a 3-year-old entry-level allowance race with a $50,000 claiming option that serves as the Thursday feature at Arlington.

was one of 12 horses (Javi Suervo and Win Me Over are main track only) entered in the eighth race, which is carded at about 1 1/16 miles on turf. The race came up rock solid. First-time turfer Recognition has run well in all four of his starts. Income is inches away from having cleared this allowance condition, and stretch-running Rotary could make things interesting in the final 100 yards.

But because General Jumbo comes out of a graded stakes and attracts jockey Mark Guidry, he might wind up as the favorite. General Jumbo finished fifth last out in the American Derby, which wasn't bad considering his journey. After getting away poorly, General Jumbo zoomed to the front and opened a seven-length lead on the backstretch. Winded, he faded late, but didn't completely fall apart.

"I just think the other day, when he stumbled at the start, he tried to recover and he went too fast too early," O'Callaghan said. "A lot of times when a horse stumbles, you gig him a little bit, and he kind of showed more pace than I thought he would.

"I told [jockey Gary Stevens] he was a lazy horse, and I guess I was wrong. He's a big, very immature horse who I think is going to be a nice horse, but in the past, you asked him to go and it took a jump or two for him to do anything."

O'Callaghan isn't committing to a particular trip Thursday, but the early pace General Jumbo showed last out could get him good position from post 9. , who comes out of a one-turn mile, should get first run on the closers, and the real battle should start at the top of the stretch.

finished second by a head two starts ago, second by a nose last time, and is overdue for a breakthrough.

And move, which comes latest, could prove the best if the horses up front early move along at a decent clip. Last time out, he made up more than four lengths from the stretch call to the wire while finishing third behind Income.