04/07/2005 12:00AM

Trainer expects better from Singletary

Singletary, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (above), seeks to bounce back from his seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Kilroe last out.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Singletary has the most to prove of the six runners in Saturday's $150,000 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita.

The winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park last October, Singletary was seventh in his first start of 2005, the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile here on March 5.

The loss stung trainer Don Chatlos. He is convinced that Singletary did not have the necessary fitness to win, a problem brought on by a training program interrupted by rain earlier this year.

"The last five weeks has been the longest five weeks," Chatlos said. "People were coming up to me like it was a funeral, like it was the end of the world."

The Arcadia Handicap, run at a mile on turf, is an opportunity for Singletary to return to top form, which his trainer and the Little Red Feather partnership expect to see.

"We feel like we have something to prove," Chatlos said. "He's better than his last race, and we'll show it on Saturday."

was beaten five lengths by Leroidesanimaux in the Kilroe Mile. The second- and third-place finishers from that race - Buckland Manor and Sweet Return - are the biggest threat to Singletary on Saturday.

Buckland Manor was unlucky not to win the Kilroe Mile. He was stuck in traffic at a pivotal point in early stretch and was beaten a length by Leroidesanimaux.

In the Arcadia, Buckland Manor figures to get a stalking trip behind Sweet Stepper, who breaks from the rail. Buckland Manor has developed from a pacesetter to a stalker. That style led to two wins in allowance races earlier this month, but led to the traffic problems in the Kilroe.

Trainer Paco Gonzalez said Buckland Manor was at a disadvantage as a pacesetter, sometimes pulling himself up and getting caught late. "When he was on the lead, he picked his head up when he turned for home," Gonzalez said. "Now, he comes from off the pace. He doesn't do that anymore."

Sweet Return fought for the early lead in the Kilroe before fading to finish two lengths behind Leroidesanimaux.

"He was beaten by probably the best miler in the country," trainer Ron McAnally said.

Winless in six starts dating back to the 2004 Kilroe, Sweet Return figures to be near the front, and should be a major factor in the outcome. McAnally is certain the colt has the versatility to give Corey Nakatani options as the race unfolds.

"If there is pace in there, he can come from off of it," McAnally said.

A quick pace will help Singletary. He is likely to be toward the back, Chatlos said.

"Ideally, he will be four or five lengths back," Chatlos said. "We're definitely looking to win."