10/20/2004 11:00PM

Trainer figures $135,000 is cash well-spent


Mr O'Brien, whose latest victory led his owners to pay $135,000 to supplement him to the Breeders' Cup Mile, is among the shipment of horses scheduled to arrive Sunday at Lone Star Park after a charter flight from New York.

"He's going to work Saturday at Pimlico," said Robin Graham, who trains Mr O'Brien for the Skeedattle Stable syndicate. "Then we'll put him on a van early Sunday to catch his flight from New York."

Mr O'Brien ran his way into the Mile with a rousing 1 1/2-length victory in the Oct. 9 Kelso BC Mile at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old gelding earned a lifetime high Beyer Speed Figure of 108 that day.

"Probably the biggest factors in us deciding to run in the Breeders' Cup is he came out of the race great, and we think he's got a legitimate shot to actually win the thing," said Graham. "Plus, this is possibly the only chance that any of us will have to run a horse in a race this big."

Graham has trained on her own for 11 years in Maryland after a lengthy stint as an assistant to Barclay Tagg. She oversees 23 horses at Pimlico. Mr O'Brien, whose biggest win this year before the Kelso came in the Grade 2 Dixie on the Preakness undercard, is her best horse to date.

Meanwhile, from Canada, trainer Mark Frostad said he is satisfied that Soaring Free, the Sam-Son Farm standout who is unbeaten in six turf starts this year, is coming to the Mile in good order. Last year, after running a big second in the Atto Mile, Soaring Free ran in the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland and then three weeks later in the BC Mile, in which he finished fifth.

This year, Soaring Free won the Grade 1 Atto Mile and skipped the Shadwell.

"The six weeks between races should suit him better," said Frostad. "I thought he was a little tired after all we put him through last year. Obviously he's come back good. He's been doing great up here."

Soaring Free is one of the speedier horses in the Mile, but Frostad said he is unconcerned about the gelding getting caught up in a sizzling pace. "He can avoid a fast pace if that's what we need to do," he said.

At Keeneland, Honor in War breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:04.80 over a soft turf course Thursday. According to Randy Martin, assistant to trainer Paul McGee, Honor in War has been thriving in his regular training regimen over Keeneland's new polytrack training surface.

Honor in War, second to Nothing to Lose in the Oct. 9 Shadwell, can make the Mile only if five other horses drop out. At least three are expected to run in other Breeders' Cup races (Balto Star, Bowman's Band, and Freefourinternet), while it is still questionable whether the filly Musical Chimes will ship from California to run, according to trainer Neil Drysdale.