07/18/2009 11:00PM

Al Khali gets some class relief


ELMONT, N.Y. - Al Khali finds an easier spot for his second race on turf: the $65,000 A Gift Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday at Belmont Park.

The ridgling tackled grass for the first time in the Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup on June 20. After getting away third, Al Khali made an early move for the lead. He could not sustain the bid, eventually fading to fifth in the 1 3/16-mile race.

"He's been training very well," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He made a bit of a premature move. We'll give him another chance."

After going 2 for 3 in his freshman campaign in Peru, Al Khali joined the Pletcher barn. His U.S. debut was a winning effort in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Then came three straight graded stakes: an eighth in the Illinois Derby, sixth here in the Peter Pan, and the Colonial Turf Cup.

Pletcher was most encouraged by the way Al Khali took to the grass.

"He trains well on the turf," Pletcher said. "I thought he handled it well. If we could have done things a little different, we would have sat back and waited a little longer."

Less demanding company and a shorter race could be the winning combination for Al Khali.

Hello Broadway will be giving turf a try for the first time. The colt, trained by Barclay Tagg, has two wins: a debut victory at Saratoga last August and a first-level allowance score on the synthetic surface at Keeneland. He owns a pair of second-place finishes in graded stakes, the Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct in November and the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream in the spring.

Hello Broadway has breezed twice on the turf since running seventh in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Laureate Conductor has come to hand nicely on the turf for trainer Christophe Clement. The colt earned his maiden win on a soft course here before stepping up on firm grass at Monmouth Park to capture the Choice Stakes on July 5.

Trainer Michael Matz sends up Mikoshi from the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. Mikoshi came off the turf most recently to be second in the Tall Ships Stakes on the synthetic strip at Presque Isle Downs. He is very comfortable on grass, with a record of 2-1-0 in 4 tries.