09/28/2006 12:00AM

The Tin Man can take control of Hirsch


ARCADIA, Calif. - No horse in the United States has beaten The Tin Man this year.

Three starts have resulted in three stakes wins, including a front-running win in the Arlington Million in August. The Tin Man's only loss of 2006 was a second-place finish in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes in Dubai in March, and he earned $1 million for that.

Those accomplishments make The Tin Man a short-priced favorite to win the seventh stakes of his career in Saturday's $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

The Grade 1 Hirsch will be The Tin Man's first start since he won the Arlington Million by a length over Cacique. Earlier this month, Cacique won the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park.

Owned by Ralph and Aury Todd and trained by Richard Mandella, The Tin Man does not face a tough field in the Hirsch, run over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The field of six includes T.H. Approval, who has won the last two runnings of the marathon San Juan Capistrano Handicap.

The Tin Man will dictate the pace, his best style.

"He likes that," Mandella said.

The Tin Man stalked the pace for the first six furlongs of the San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf here in January. He led throughout the American Handicap at Hollywood Park in July.

What makes The Tin Man's current campaign all the more remarkable is that he is 8, and that he is racing at the highest level after recovering from an ankle injury suffered in 2004. Mandella's only concern of late is the effects of The Tin Man's travel itinerary this year.

"He can win some more, but if he doesn't, we won't hold it against him in our camp," Mandella said. "He's been to Dubai and back and to Arlington and back, and you don't know if that will catch up."

Saturday's race will determine whether The Tin Man goes to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs over 1 1/2 miles on Nov. 4. Mandella feels that The Tin Man is adaptable to any distance beyond a mile. He won a one-mile allowance race last December and has won over 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 miles this year.

"I think his best distance is anything from a mile to a mile and a half, and what he's aimed at and whether he's on top of his game," Mandella said.

Lately, The Tin Man has been very much on his game.