04/27/2006 12:00AM

Sweet Return class of Mile field


ALBANY, Calif. - With a local star, a course specialist, and a multiple Grade 1 winner in the field, Saturday's $400,000 at Golden Gate Fields should live up to its billing as northern California's premier race.

The only Grade 2 race in northern California, it drew eight entrants, including Sweet Return, who won back-to-back Grade 1 stakes last year, the Charlie Whittingham at Hollywood Park and the Eddie Read at Del Mar. Sweet Return also was third in the Grade 1 Kilroe and second in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap. Sweet Return earned triple-digit Beyers in all seven starts last year.

He finished sixth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths in the Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita on April 8 in his first start in six months.

"A mile is a good distance for him," said Dan Landers, assistant to Ron McAnally, trainer of Sweet Return.

Sweet Return used a pair of mile races to open his campaign last year and is doing the same this year.

"This race fits nicely into his schedule," said Landers, who said the 6-year-old Sweet Return would ship up after an easy 50.80-second half-mile turf blowout Thursday at Hollywood Park.

While Sweet Return has the resume, the now horse could be Aragorn, second, beaten a head in the Kilroe on March 4 in his first start since winning the Oak Tree Derby in October.

Since joining trainer Neil Drysdale's barn last fall, Aragorn, the 9-5 favorite on Golden Gate's morning line, has two seconds and a victory. He will get the firm course he prefers on Saturday.

Charmo, the 5-2 second choice, was sixth, beaten only one length in the Kilroe, after a very wide trip.

"He was wide the whole race around," said trainer Julio Canani. "That race was very good, and I don't think he liked the soft ground that day."

Local favorite Adreamisborn, second in this race to Castledale when it was run at Bay Meadows last year, has two wins and a third over the turf here and won the $100,000 Tanforan here last fall.

But if you're talking horse for the course, there's Hendrix, coming off a career-high 105 Beyer, who is running on a course where he's 2 for 2. He's also 3 for 4 in one-mile races on turf.

"He's got a fondness for the course," said trainer Craig Dollase.