04/09/2006 11:00PM

With a City ready to run now


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - With a City is training so sharply that instead of waiting for the Kentucky Derby for his next start, plans are to run him Saturday in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby, his owner, Ron Peltz, said Monday.

The addition of With a City brings to 13 the number of probables for the race, which is the richest at the Oaklawn Park meet. The field will be drawn Wednesday.

With a City won the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at 48-1 in his last start March 25. Monday, he worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 at the Churchill Downs training track for trainer Mike Maker.

"He worked fantastic," Peltz said Monday. "We wanted to just go to the [Kentucky] Derby, but Mike says the horse is doing so well that we should run. If everything goes good, we're going to van over [Tuesday]."

Brice Blanc has the mount, said Peltz.

With a City will be one of the top choices in the Arkansas Derby, behind favorite Lawyer Ron. The other probables are High Cotton, Jealous Profit, New Joysey Jeff, Nob Hill Deelite, Private Vow, Red Raymond, Sayhellotolarry, Simon Pure, Steppenwolfer, and Well Said. A final decision on Film Fortune will be made Wednesday. If he goes, Film Fortune will be ridden by Terry Thompson, said trainer Jack Van Berg.

The Arkansas Derby closes out the Racing Festival of the South, in which nine stakes worth $2.8 million are decided over the final week of the meet. The race is scheduled to be televised live on ABC.

Pimlico Special for Buzzards Bay?

Buzzards Bay, who won the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap last Saturday, is being considered for the Grade 1, $500,000 Pimlico Special on May 19, trainer Ron Ellis said.

"After shipping and racing, I won't be in a big hurry to run him back," he said Monday. "The Pimlico Special is five weeks away. We'll kind of just see how he bounces back. But I would say I'm 50-50 on that. It's a consideration for sure."

Buzzards Bay led throughout and won the Oaklawn by 6 1/2 lengths, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 110. "I thought he ran lights out," said Ellis.

The win was Buzzards Bay's second straight in a stakes, following his win in the Grade 3, $150,000 All American Handicap at Golden Gate, for which he earned a Beyer of 108. The long-term goal for Buzzards Bay is the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"I think he's elevated himself into that league," said Ellis.

Buzzards Bay flew back to California on Monday.

Spun Sugar adds to Pletcher arsenal

Trainer Todd Pletcher does not lack filly and mare star power. Among the impressive stakes winners he has sent out recently are Oonagh Maccool and Spun Sugar, who won her first Grade 1 here last Saturday in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.

"We've lost Ashado to the breeding shed, but fortunately we've got some nice fillies that are stepping up to the plate," said Pletcher.

Spun Sugar was making her second start since August in the Apple Blossom, and Pletcher said he liked the grit she showed when she won a stretch battle by a neck over Grade 1-winning mare Happy Ticket. For her effort, Spun Sugar earned a career-best Beyer of 103.

"I was obviously pleased that she dug in and fought when Happy Ticket got to her," Pletcher said. "It looked like Happy Ticket was going well, and [Spun Sugar] was very competitive, dug in, and fought hard for the win."

Pletcher said the next-race plans for Spun Sugar are still being made.

"She'll come back to Kentucky, and then we'll come up with a game plan from there," he said. "She might not run again until the Ogden Phipps at Belmont."

A Grade 1, $300,000 race, the Ogden Phipps is scheduled for June 17. Spun Sugar races for Stronach Stables.

Happy Ticket targets Fleur de Lis

Happy Ticket is being freshened some and will be pointed for the Grade 2, $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs on June 17, said trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.

Happy Ticket has made her last two starts at Oaklawn, finishing second after a stretchlong battle with Round Pond in the Grade 3 Azeri one start before the Apple Blossom.

"She ran her heart out again," Leggio said of Happy Ticket's effort in the Apple Blossom. "She's had two grueling races. We'll back off a little bit and give her a little breather and go from there."

Leggio said the Breeders' Cup Distaff remains the year-end goal with Happy Ticket. The race will be run this year at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Ex Caelis, Quiet Kim in Fantasy

Ex Caelis, the fourth-place finisher in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will make her season debut Friday in the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy. A field of eight was entered in the 1 1/16-mile race, including Quiet Kim, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

Ex Caelis arrived at Oaklawn on Monday aboard a plane carrying several horses for upcoming stakes. She was accompanied by her trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. He has given the mount to John Jacinto.

The complete field from the rail with riders is Lady Danza, Brice Blanc; Ready to Please, Stewart Elliott; Sweet Idea, Donnie Meche; Miss Norman, Tony Farina; Brownie Points, Luis Quinonez; Sweet Fervor, Robby Albarado; Ex Caelis; and Quiet Kim, Patrick Valenzuela.

* Rockport Harbor, the Grade 2 winner who was retired last month, left Oaklawn on Saturday for Kentucky.