Gary Stevens, who will ride Aptitude in the Dubai World Cup.

Gary Stevens, who will ride Aptitude in the Dubai World Cup.

Associated Press/ Victor R. Caivano

Captain Steve, Aptitude Have World Cup Preps; Frankel Names Stevens

Mike Pegram's Captain Steve and Juddmonte Farms' Aptitude, America's two entries in the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 24, each worked in Southern California on Friday, one day before they are scheduled to leave on their long journey to the desert nation. Also on Friday, trainer Robert Frankel indicated that Gary Stevens will ride Aptitude for the first time in the World Cup.

Aptitude, working six furlongs at Hollywood Park in company with Lido Palace (who will run in the $2-million UAE Derby, UAE-III), was clocked, according to Frankel, in 1:11 2/5 under Stevens, who was aboard the A.P. Indy colt for the first time. "I broke the other horse off two lengths in front of Aptitude," Frankel said of the work, "and they finished together. Both horses went really, really well." Lido Palace was clocked in 1:11 4/5.

Aptitude, who has yet to win a stakes race though he was second in both the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) last year, has not been postward since a career-worst eighth-place finish in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in November. He "flipped his palate" in the race, Frankel said, and underwent throat surgery several weeks later. Aptitude returned to training in January and, though Frankel toyed with the idea of starting him in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), will go into the World Cup off works alone. "He's a fit horse," Frankel said.

Captain Steve worked seven furlongs in company with the A.P. Indy 3-year-old Indy Lead at Santa Anita on Friday. Baffert caught Captain Steve in 1:25 2/5, though track clockers listed his time as 1:26 4/5. "The track was kind of deep and slow," Baffert said, "so that was a hell of a move." Dana Barnes was aboard Captain Steve, who broke off several lengths behind Indy Lead, then finished a length and a half in front of his workmate, according to Baffert. Clockers gave Indy lead a time of 1:27 3/5 for the distance.

Captain Steve won the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park in his only start of the year. The son of Fly So Free ended a solid campaign in 2000 by finishing third to Horse of the Year Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

The only time Captain Steve and Aptitude met was in the Kentucky Derby. Aptitude, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Fusaichi Pegasus, finished well ahead of Captain Steve, who bid for the lead at the top of the stretch before winding up eighth, beaten more than 13 lengths.

Frankel flies to Dubai on March 14 to oversee the horse's training, after stopping in Miami for two days to film a television commercial with Jerry Bailey for the Daily Racing Form. Baffert will leave for Dubai one week before the World Cup.