08/14/2006 12:00AM

Carthage tries new career path: turf


DEL MAR, Calif. - When finished fifth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap here on July 30, the loss marked the end of a five-race winning streak and left trainer Art Sherman baffled.

The loss has given Sherman an opportunity to take Carthage's career in a different direction. Wednesday, Carthage, 6, makes his turf debut in the $85,000 Green Flash Handicap at five furlongs at Del Mar.

Carthage worked three furlongs on turf on Aug. 10 and Sherman was pleased with what he saw.

"I've always wanted to try him on the grass," Sherman said. "I know he likes to hear his feet rattle. I worked him on the grass and I think he liked it."

From December to June, Carthage won five consecutive races, including four stakes. But in the Bing Crosby, Carthage never reached contention. He was well off the pace throughout and finished 9 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Pure as Gold.

"He never got a hold of that racetrack," Sherman said. "It was not the sort of track that he felt comfortable with."

In the Green Flash, Carthage breaks from the rail. Although he has shown remarkable speed, he may not have an early advantage. Fast Parade, who won the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita in March, may take the early lead from post 2. Fast Parade has not started since finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 22. Slew's Prince, who breaks from the outside, is another starter with high early speed.

Sherman wants Carthage to stay close to the front.

"Even if I'm just in contention I'll be in good shape," he said. "I've had him run off of horses and he's run well. I think he'd be okay stalking a horse. I hope he can handle the grass. It gives me another option."

The Green Flash has drawn 12 entrants, but only eight can start. Carthage, Fast Parade, and Thor's Echo are trying turf for the first time.

Thor's Echo has not started since finishing second sprinting in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in March. A gelding, Thor's Echo, 4, was slow to rebound from that race, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

"He's got a ton of natural speed," O'Neill said. "It looks like a good race to get him back in the mix."

Of the runners with turf experience, Head of the House, Osidy, and Railroad are capable of winning from off the pace. Railroad won the Robert Kerlan Handicap for turf sprinters at Hollywood Park last month.