06/28/2008 12:00AM

Suburban could be the one for A. P. Arrow

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ELMONT, N.Y. - A. P. Arrow has been chasing a Grade 1 stakes victory since the second start of his 23-race career. While Saturday's $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park may not be the 6-year-old's last chance to win a Grade 1, it may be his best.

Having tangled with the likes of Invasor, Student Council, Lava Man and Curlin in Grade 1 stakes, A. P. Arrow meets a seemingly softer group when he heads an eight-horse field entered in the Suburban, which shares billing on Belmont's 10-race card with the Grade 1 Mother Goose.

A. P. Arrow, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Grade 2 Clark Handicap to end his 5-year-old campaign last November. In his first start this year, A. P. Arrow finished second, beaten a half-length by Spring at Last, in the Grade 1 Donn at Gulfstream. Eight weeks later, he finished fourth to Horse of the Year Curlin in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, but was only

beaten a length for second.

"I think in retrospect if we had ridden him to be second we probably could have been," Pletcher said. "We knew obviously Curlin was the horse to beat and we tried to make a concerted effort not to let him get away from us, which probably compromised our chances."

Pletcher entered A. P. Arrow in the Pimlico Special last month, but had to scratch when the horse developed colic-like symptoms. After two breezes on turf showed that the horse's preferred surface is dirt, A. P. Arrow has worked three times on the dirt leading up to this.

A. P. Arrow, the 118-pound highweight, breaks from the rail under Ramon Dominguez.

A. P. Arrow's rivals include Rising Moon, who has won four straight; Harlington, a former Pletcher trainee who has won 6 of 9 career starts; and Solar Flare, an Argentine-bred who won his lone North American start for trainer Larry Jones.

"There could be some real stars down the road, but so far A. P. Arrow is the most accomplished horse in the race," Pletcher said. "If he shows up and runs his 'A' race I think he should be right there."

Harlington, a 6-year-old son of Unbridled, won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in 2006. He has run only twice since, including a third-place finish in an allowance race in the mud here on May 31.

"He's been training exceptionally well since his allowance race off the layoff," said trainer Tom Albertrani. "He looks like he's in great condition. Hopefully, that last race will have made him a little tighter, which I expected it to, and we'll see a good performance out of him."

Rising Moon has won four consecutive races, including an allowance win here on May 30. Rising Moon is 2 for 2 at Belmont and is a proven marathon runner.

"He likes the track, and he's doing good - it's time to try him," trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said. "I'm ready for him to step up; hopefully, he does."

Dutrow will also run Frost Giant, who scratched out of an allowance race on Wednesday. Dutrow plans to put Frost Giant on the lead, but not as a rabbit for Rising Moon.

"That's not our angle," Dutrow said. "I think Frost Giant's good right now. It might be the right time to take a chance in a Grade 1."

Solar Flare has some speed, comes off a smart allowance win at Delaware Park, and gets Lasix for the first time.