05/27/2010 11:00PM

Bear's Hard Ten getting his distance

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Bear's Hard Ten will lengthen out to his preferred distance Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Marine Stakes, which has also lured the talented Kentucky shipper Exhi and Queen's Plate prospects Hotep and Giant's Tomb.

Bear's Hard Ten graduated second time out at 2, in a seven-furlong maiden special Oct. 2. Trainer Reade Baker said he had aspirations of taking him to last year's Breeders' Cup before the colt came up empty in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance Oct. 22.

"I don't know what happened there," Baker said. "I don't know if he bounced, or laid too close to a torrid pace, but he didn't run any good. I was disappointed, but then he came back and vindicated himself."

Following a six-week break, Bear's Hard Ten captured the 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes by nearly four lengths over Giant's Tomb. He received a 91 Beyer Speed Figure when he was a closing third in his season opener April 25 in the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes.

Baker said he was content with Bear's Hard Ten's comeback, a race that should set him up adequately for the stretchout to 1 1/16 miles on Saturday.

"He just ran out of room," said Baker. "He's trained well since, and has got his distance now."

Exhi, based at Churchill Downs with trainer Todd Pletcher, has been idle since posting a 20-1 upset in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes April 17 at Keeneland. He also won his next-to-last start, going 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway.

Mark Frostad trains both Hotep and Giant's Tomb for Sam-Son Farm.

Hotep snapped out of a slump three weeks ago, when he captured the 1 1/16-mile Wando Stakes with an 85 Beyer. He was rank early in the Wando before closing for a handy score under Patrick Husbands.

"He's a very hyper horse," said Husbands. "I always try to keep him as calm as possible. From the time he leaves the gate, he wants the lead. The main object is trying to get him to the Plate, trying to get him to relax."

Essence Hit Man, the leading 3-year-old sprinter at Woodbine, will be making his first start beyond seven furlongs, the distance over which he won the May 15 Queenston Stakes. He led throughout the Queenston en route to a six-length tally, and was awarded a whopping 100 Beyer.