03/29/2010 11:00PM

Armstrong Mill racing with hood


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Armstrong Mill has burned a lot of money since his third-place finish late last summer in the Grade 3 Saranac. Perhaps an equipment change will prevent that familiar scenario from reoccurring when Armstrong Mill again goes postward as the public's choice in Thursday's $48,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Armstrong Mill has two seconds and a third against entry-level allowance company in his three races since rallying to be third behind Al Khali and earning a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure in the 2009 Saranac at Saratoga. Two of those losses came in races taken off the grass and decided over the Polytrack last fall at Keeneland. In his latest, going a 1 3/8 miles over the Gulfstream turf course on March 5, he was beaten a head by Cozy Lion.

Thursday's headliner is carded on the grass at 1 1/8 miles.

"A mile and one-eighth is a bit shorter than his best trip, but he'll run with blinkers for the first time and hopefully the blinkers will make him a bit sharper and do the trick," said Christophe Clement, who trains the homebred Armstrong Mill for Overbrook Farm.

Rajiv Maragh again has the mount aboard Armstrong Mill, the only member of the eight-horse field with any stakes experience.

Schopenhauer, who finished just a half-length behind Armstrong Mill when the pair met four weeks earlier, gets another shot at that rival while also turning back from 11 to nine furlongs Thursday. Schopenhauer, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, struck the front in early stretch and fought it out gamely to the wire before finishing fourth four weeks ago. It was his first start in nearly four months and first since being reunited with trainer Dennis Manning this past winter.

Blazen is the only three-time winner in the field. The hard-knocking gelding is coming off arguably the best effort of his career, a half-length come-from-behind victory over mid-level conditioned claimers for trainer Anthony Pecoraro on March 7.

Nacho Corona, trainer Jonathan Sheppard's only winner during the current session, looks for his second straight victory while stepping up off an improved maiden claiming triumph four weeks earlier.

Completing the lineup are Cat 'n Fiddle, who gets some class relief after taking on much tougher second-level optional claiming and allowance company in his last two starts, Stormy Mirage, Grey Boundary, and Arhat.