11/13/2009 1:00AM

Star Nicholas back at best distance

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There is a narrow band of race distances that best suit Star Nicholas.

He was third in the California Cup Classic over 1 1/8 miles on Oct. 3, which was too far. The one-mile Windy Sands Handicap over a mile at Del Mar on Sept. 5 was pushing it.

The statebred stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park, such as Saturday's $75,000 On Trust Handicap, are ideal. Last December, Star Nicholas won his first stakes in the On Trust. Earlier this year in stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs, he was second in the Tiznow Stakes and third in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap.

"I think he's got a great turn of foot and he's a late-closing long sprinter," trainer Peter Eurton said. "Six furlongs is too short, seven and a half is right up his alley. We'll see if we can defend."

Owned by a partnership, Star Nicholas is part of a field of nine in the On Trust. The race will be the 6-year-old gelding's first start since he was beaten 7 3/4 lengths by Bold Chieftain in the California Cup Classic.

"I think it was definitely too far," Eurton said of the nine-furlong Classic. "He was lucky to get third. If you look at him you'd think he'd go further."

Eurton may like the distance, but he has concern about the way Star Nicholas trained last weekend. Star Nicholas worked five furlongs in 1:03.

"I would have liked to have seen him go in a minute, especially a week out," Eurton said. "There's not much I can do now. I hope I have enough air in him. It hasn't been that long since he ran a mile and an eighth so my concerns are not that bad."

Star Nicholas will carry top weight of 121 pounds along with Nikki'sgoldensteed, who was third in the Grade 1 Pat O'Brien Stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 6, and Dance with Gable, the winner of the minor California Sky Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 28.

Four horses that have placed in stakes this year are part of the field - Bestdressed, Big Bad Leroybrown, Enriched, and Mr. Wolverine.

Dance With Gable, claimed for $40,000 in August and subsequently the winner of two stakes, could lead throughout.

"I don't think the distance will be an issue," trainer Mike Machowsky said. "I hope he doesn't get too keen."