03/12/2009 11:00PM

Bribon looks to finally start a winning streak


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While it is accurate to say that Bribon has yet to win two races in a row in his 24-race career, it is not fair to say that he hasn't run two winning races back to back.

Perhaps, Bribon can take care of that statistical anomaly in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap, which will be contested as a one-turn mile for the first time in this, its 65th running. The Gulfstream Park Handicap, which drew a field of seven, tops an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf.

Bribon enters the race off a six-length allowance score going a mile here Feb. 12. Trainer Robert Ribaudo believes that race, and not his 10th-place finish in the Hal's Hope Handicap here Jan. 3, is a true bill of Bribon's talent.

"The Hal's Hope was a mystery race for a lot of horses," Ribaudo said. "He got banged around a little bit the first part of it, then got rank and on the muscle and was finished. He trained good coming up to this next race and he performed the way we were expecting him to. Coming out of that race, this is kind of a no-brainer."

Last June, Bribon won a one-mile allowance race at Belmont by 9 3/4 lengths, earning a 118 Beyer Speed Figure. He didn't run again for 3 1/2 months, finishing third in an allowance race.

Last fall, Bribon won a one-mile allowance race at Aqueduct by 5 1/4 lengths and came back three weeks later in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. He finished with a rush to be third, beaten three-quarters of a length by Harlem Rocker, who was disqualified and placed second behind Tale of Ekati.

"It was a big race, little bit of trouble, first time facing Grade 1 company in this country," Ribaudo said.

Bribon is at his best when there's a solid pace in front of him. He should get that Saturday with Formidable, Finallymadeit, and How's Your Halo in the field.

Formidable, trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, makes his stakes debut after two strong allowance wins at this meet.

"It remains to be seen what he'll do with better horses," Jerkens said. "These are a lot better horses than he's run against. I'm hoping it's not asking too much."

If Formidable and How's Your Halo duel, that would not only set things up for Bribon, but also would help out Cool Coal Man. Trained by Nick Zito, Cool Coal Man is 3 for 3 at Gulfstream Park, including a win in the Fountain of Youth last year.

He made an auspicious 4-year-old debut on Jan. 28, winning a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race by 2 1/2 lengths and earning a career-best 107 Beyer.

"I think it's perfect," Zito said when asked about the one-turn mile for Cool Coal Man. "The way he won last time sprinting was very impressive."

Smooth Air returns to the dirt for the first time since last September when he finished third in the Gradeo2 Pennsylvania Derby. As a 3-year-old, Smooth Air won the Gradeo2 Hutcheson here gong seven furlongs and the Grade 2 Ohio Derby going 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

In his 4-year-old debut last month, Smooth Air finished second in the Tallahassee Stakes going a mile on turf. Trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. believes the horse couldn't be coming into this race any better.

"With that race under his belt, the time in between, and the works I've gotten into him, I don't think there's anything else I could do to make him any better," Stutts said.

Finallymadeit returns to dirt after finishing ninth of 10 in the Mac Diarmida on turf. He was second to Albertus Maximus in the Donn Handicap the last time he raced on dirt.