03/13/2006 1:00AM

Sunshine Alpine's final work leaves Migliore excited

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Sunshine Alpine makes his two-turn debut in Saturday's Gotham.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Several hours before Richard Migliore rode the 8-year-old Kazoo to victory in last Saturday's Grade 3 , he guided the 3-year-old Sunshine Alpine through his final major workout for this Saturday's Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.

Migliore was aboard Sunshine Alpine for a seven-furlong move that Aqueduct clockers timed in 1:26.83 over the inner track. Like several horses in this field, including possible favorite Keyed Entry, Sunshine Alpine will be making his first start around two turns in the Gotham, which this year will be run on the inner track at 1 1/16 miles.

Sunshine Alpine, trained by Gary Contessa, has raced exclusively at six furlongs, with two wins and a second-place finish behind Like Now in the Capossela Stakes.

"He gave me the impression that distance won't be a problem, because he's just got a very long, efficient stride," Migliore said. "He got in a real comfortable rhythm, and when I asked, he really finished. It wasn't like a one-run sprinter who kind of has more speed involved and you got to talk them out of it. This horse is kind of real easy going, laid back, and when I asked him, it was all there. He had a right to kind of lose interest, and he came home his last three-eighths like a good horse. I'm kind of excited about him."

Migliore has won the Gotham three times, including last year's running with Survivalist. He said he feels, at the very least, that Sunshine Alpine has earned the right to run in the Gotham.

"Obviously, he's done a lot right his first three starts, and this is a big step up," Migliore said. "I think he's earned his right to compete with them. Now let's see if he can do it."

The Gotham is coming up a very intriguing field, led by the Todd Pletcher-trained Keyed Entry, the locally based Achilles of Troy, and the Maryland-based Sweetnorthernsaint. Keyed Entry is 3 for 3, including a victory over First Samurai in the Hutcheson Stakes. Achilles of Troy has won three in a row, including the Count Fleet and Whirlaway, but he has yet to be tested. Sweetnorthernsaint has won his last two impressively, including the Miracle Wood Stakes by 10 lengths at Laurel Park.

Several Gotham runners put in their final workouts Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, at the Palm Meadows training center, Keyed Entry zipped through a five-furlong move in 59 seconds, equaling stablemate Magna Graduate for the best time of 38 works at the distance. Keyed Entry worked by himself.

On Monday, Sweetnorthernsaint worked four furlongs in 49.60 seconds at Laurel Park. At Belmont, One Way Flight went an easy half-mile in 50.01 seconds over the training track.

As of Monday, there were nine confirmed starters for the Gotham. With riders, they are: Achilles of Troy (Ramon Dominguez), Greeley's Legacy (Eibar Coa), Hesanoldsalt (to be announced), Keyed Entry (Edgar Prado), Like Now (Fernardo

Jara), One Way Flight (Channing Hill), Putonyerdancinshuz (Hiram Rivera), Sunshine Alpine (Migliore) and Sweetnorthernsaint (Kent Desormeaux).

Auspicious debut for Rathor

Rathor, an Irish-bred son of Machiavellian, made a good-looking North American and dirt debut here last Friday, taking a second-level allowance race by 1 3/4 lengths. Boxed in along the rail for most of the trip, Rathor was tipped outside by Eibar Coa in upper stretch and kicked home strongly to win drawing away.

Rathor covered the six furlongs in 1:09.89 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

Bobby Frankel is the trainer of record for Rathor, but Frankel said that Richard Dutrow Jr. and Dutrow's assistant, Rudy Rodriguez, were mainly responsible for having Rathor ready to win in his first start since October.

"He ran a great race, I just don't know what he beat," Frankel said from California, where he watched the race. "I think this horse wants to go further."

Frankel mentioned the Westchester, a Grade 3, $100,000 stakes at one mile on opening day of Belmont's spring meeting (May 3), as a possible target. Frankel said he wasn't sure if Rathor is up to a race like the Grade 1 Carter on April 8, and he plans to run Major Success in that race, anyway.

No knocks on America in feature

A starter allowance race for New York-breds who have started for a claiming price in their careers brought out a stakes-caliber field for Wednesday's feature race, which will offer a purse of $40,000.

The Jimmy Jerkens-trained entry of Lord Langfuhr and Win With Beck looms large, but the in-form Don't Knock America could be the one to beat in the one-mile race.

Don't Knock America won a similarly conditioned race here on Feb. 1, beating Lord Langfuhr, who won the 2004 Alex M. Robb Handicap for New York-breds. Two starts back, Don't Knock America finished third in an allowance race. The runner-up from that race, Manchurian, won the Stymie Handicap in his most recent start.

Don't Knock America has been successful closing or stalking and projects to get a solid pace at which to close with the likes of Rogue Agent and Taking the Redeye in the field.

Interior Designer had a three-race losing streak snapped when meeting open company last out. He had won his three previous starts in statebred company.

Lopez cleared to ride again

Jockey Chuck Lopez is scheduled to return to action Thursday, attempting to come back from two injuries suffered here since last November.

Lopez is named to ride two mounts - both for Jason Servis - in the first and last races on the card.

Lopez has not ridden since Jan. 25, when he suffered a fractured wrist in a spill over the inner track. That injury occurred just three racing days after Lopez returned from a two-month layoff precipitated by a broken thumb and cracked rib suffered in a spill on Nov. 25 over Aqueduct's main track.

* Kazoo, who earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in Saturday's Toboggan, could be a candidate for the Grade 1 Carter on April 8, his connections said Monday.