08/17/2006 11:00PM

Blazing Rate should like stretch-out


MIAMI - It was a year ago this week that Blazing Rate first served notice he would be a force to be reckoned with in the local 2-year-old division after winning his career debut by nearly six lengths for trainer Richard Root and owner Ralph Sessa.

A son of Exchange Rate, Blazing Rate went on to win two of his next three starts, including the Foolish Pleasure Breeders' Cup and In Reality Stakes. His only setback at 2 came in the seven-furlong Affirmed Stakes, where he lost to the then-undefeated division leader, In Summation.

Blazing Rate has been lightly raced and is winless in four starts thus far at 3, but has given every indication he's rounding back to his top 2-year-old form. He has third-place finishes in his last two starts, including a good effort behind the odds-on favorite Too Much Bling in the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes July 15. On Sunday, Root will finally give his star the opportunity to go two turns again when Blazing Rate goes off among the choices in the $50,000 American Dreamer Stakes at a mile.

"I think he's a natural distance horse and a mile may actually suit him best," said Root. "He's had two very good sprints under his belt, his last race was a big improvement over the previous start, and I think the extra quarter-mile on Sunday should be perfect for him."

The stretch-running Blazing Rate also figures to have plenty of pace to run at in the American Dreamer.

"There looks like plenty of speed in the field, which is good for us," said Root. "Especially the way he was running best of all at the end of the Carry Back."

Root said he'd ultimately like to try Blazing Rate on the turf, with the $100,000 Needles Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 23 high on the priority list if Blazing Rate turns in another big performance on Sunday.

Trainer Frank Gomez may provide the biggest obstacle to Blazing Rate with the uncoupled entry of Rehoboth and First Movement.

Rehoboth is coming off a third-place finish after dropping off a slow pace in the Ride the Rails Stakes on July 1. Earlier this year, Rehoboth finished fifth, beaten less than two lengths by Corinthian, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before finishing a well-beaten 11th in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

First Movement turned in the best performance of his career when

rallying to a head victory over stablemate Anglers Reef on a sloppy track in a second-level allowance race on July 22.

Thanks Dubya and Mutate figure to show the early speed in a lineup that also includes Famous Frolic, Fancy Silver, and Gin Rummy King.

Plesa works Stallion Stakes runners

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had three of his top Florida Stallion Stakes prospects out for one-mile works on Friday. Villainage, runner-up behind the undefeated Straight Faced in the six-furlong Dr. Fager Stakes, and Snow Lady, upset winner of the six-furlong Desert Vixen, both went in 1:46, while Synergy was even more impressive covering the distance in 1:44 over a fast but still somewhat laboring track before the renovation break.

Villainage is expected to again meet Straight Faced in the seven-furlong Affirmed Stakes on Sept. 2. The late-running son of Trippi is out of 2001 Desert Vixen winner Pharmstar and has won 2 of 4 starts - with both losses coming to Straight Faced, in the Birdonthewire and Dr. Fager Stakes.

Snow Lady will return along with Synergy in the seven-furlong Susan's Girl Stakes on Sept. 2. Snow Lady's victory in the Desert Vixen was the ninth Stallion Stakes triumph for Plesa, tying him for second with Manny Tortora on the all-time list of Stallion Stakes-winning trainers. Gomez leads with 14 Stallion series victories.

Another of Plesa's promising 2-year-old prospects, Yesbyjimminy, is not eligible for the Stallion Stakes. Undefeated in two starts, Yesbyjimminy might make his next start in the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth on Sept. 4 or stay home and run in one of the undercard races on the Sept. 2 Juvenile Showcase program. The 13-race Juvenile Showcase card will consist entirely of races for 2-year-olds.