02/03/2010 1:00AM

Allowance has stellar company

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap is once again the marquee race for older horses on the main track here at Gulfstream Park this winter. Top to bottom, though, the field for this year's Donn may not be as strong as the one assembled for Wednesday's third race, a $56,000 optional claiming event carded at one mile.

:: RACE OF THE DAY:

Among those entered for Wednesday's feature are Diamond Stripes, who has not started since capturing the 2008 Godolphin Mile; his uncoupled stablemate Arson Squad, who was the favorite in the 2009 Donn; the 2007 Travers runner-up, Grasshopper; and Buddy's Humor, winner of the Grade 3 Pan American here last winter.

Track condition could play a factor in the race, as trainer Rick Dutrow said he might scratch both Diamond Stripes and Arson Squad if the footing is not fast.

"Both horses are ready to run, although I don't feel I need to run either of them over an off track at this time," Dutrow said as rain pelted the barn area on Monday morning.

Diamond Stripes, Grade 1-placed on three consecutive occasions during the summer of 2007, went to the sidelines after beating Elusive Warning by 1 1/4 lengths in the 2008 Godolphin Mile.

"He had something going on with his head, neck, and eye coming out of Dubai, and after we got that straightened out he developed a suspensory issue," said Dutrow. "Right now he's as good as he was before, although I figure he might need a race coming back off such a long layoff."

Grade 2 winner Arson Squad finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the 2009 Donn. He has not started since finishing fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster last June.

"He had some weak cannon bones after the Stephen Foster, so we just gave him the time to strengthen up," said Dutrow. "He's doing great, and I think he'll be ready to roll on Wednesday."

Grasshopper, who will be making his first start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, has not raced since finishing well back in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on April 19. Grasshopper came within a half-length of upsetting Street Sense in the 2007 Travers.

Buddy's Humor, who also has Grade 1 experience, has been away since June 13 and will be seeking his first victory since defeating Presious Passion over a sloppy track in the Grade 3 Pan American here in March.