06/15/2006 11:00PM

Blazing Rate tries to revive dimming star

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MIAMI - In Summation and Blazing Rate were without question the top 2-year-olds stabled in south Florida last season. Between them, the pair won 8 of 10 starts and swept all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes series.

But nearly halfway through their 3-year-old campaigns, not only has neither In Summation nor Blazing Rate won a race this season, both have yet to even finish in the money in a combined six starts.

In Summation captured his first five starts at 2, including the opening two legs of the Stallion Stakes before having his quest to sweep the series stopped when he was beaten a nose by Blazing Rate in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality Stakes. Trainer Frank Gomez gave In Summation the rest of the fall off before bringing him back for what turned out to be a disappointing winter campaign that resulted in two fourth- and two fifth-place finishes.

In Summation has not started since finishing fourth in Gulfstream Park's Spectacular Bid Stakes on April 1. According to Gomez, In Summation is in New York with trainer Christophe Clement and will likely return on the turf during the second half of the season.

Blazing Rate won 3 of 4 starts at 2, including the In Reality, with his lone setback a second-place finish behind In Summation in the seven-furlong Affirmed Stakes. He too was given some time off following the Stallion Stakes finale and was badly outrun in his only two starts this year, finishing seventh over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park and ninth, nearly 23 lengths behind Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runner-up Bluegrass Cat, in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs two weeks later.

Blazing Rate finally returns to action again here Sunday in the $45,000 Valid Video Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds which serves as a prep for the $300,000 Carry Back Stakes on July 15.

"Hopefully, he'll run well enough in this one to earn a shot in the Carry Back," said Richard Root, who trains Blazing Rate for owner Ralph Sessa. "At least that's the plan for now."

Root said he is hoping the wet track for the Hutcheson and quick turnaround to the Sam Davis were reason enough to toss out those efforts.

"The track was really bad for the Hutcheson," Root recalled. "And we probably shouldn't have run him back in just two weeks at Tampa. He's been training pretty well and he seems to really like this track, so I'm hoping he'll perform Sunday the way he did here for us as a 2-year-old."

The Valid Video has not come up an easy spot. The overnight stakes drew a field of nine, including three from the barn of trainer Tim Ritvo, the entry of R Fast Favorite and R Loyal Man along with the red-hot Mister Supremo. The remainder of the lineup consists of stakes winner Gin Rummy King, Folk Festival, How's Your Halo, Thanks Dubya, and Mach Ride.

The Valid Video shares top billing on Sunday's card with the $45,000 Band Is Passing Stakes carded at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Band Is Passing drew a field of nine, led by Keep Cool and Bob's Proud Moment, if the race goes as scheduled on turf.

Whos Crying Now, one of the leading members of the local handicap division but winless in five tries on grass, is also entered, along with Rehoboth, Dancing in Gerarda, Expeditious, Siphon City, Our Finale, and Cervelo.

* Trainer Larry Pilotti reports that Honored Image, who captured the only race for 2-year-old winners thus far at the meet, will likely make his next start in the $80,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on July 15. Although he's a Florida-bred, Honored Image is not eligible for the Stallion Stakes series.

* Trainer Luis Olivares unveiled a promising 2-year-old of his own on Tuesday when Green Vegas captured his career debut in impressive fashion. A son of Trippi, Green Vegas ran 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.80 seconds and earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. Unlike Honored Image, Green Vegas is Stallion Stakes-eligible.