12/04/2009 12:00AM

Clement shipper finds spot


Bubbler has started her career with two blowout wins, and looks like a potentially serious stakes horse. Too bad she is unlikely to actually start Saturday in the $60,000 Pago Hop Stakes, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds. In her absence, the Pago Hop could come down to the Christophe Clement-trainer shipper Akilina, and Askbut I Won'ttell, a turf allowance winner at the Keeneland meet this fall.

Bubbler was cross-entered in the $100,000 Gallery Furniture Stakes on Saturday at Sam Houston. Trainer Bret Calhoun said Thursday he would prefer to run Bubbler out of her own stall in New Orleans. But a shorter, softer field beckons in Texas, and the race there is on dirt, over which Bubbler has won twice by a combined 14 lengths, as opposed to grass at Fair Grounds.

"I'd prefer not to change surfaces with her," Calhoun said Thursday. "I'm watching the weather here, but it doesn't look like the race is going to come off. We'll probably put her on a van tomorrow."

Bubbler has only a van ride of five or six hours to reach her destination. Akilina has done much more traveling recently. She finished third in the $60,000 Flitalong Stakes on Nov. 18 at Belmont, after which she shipped to Clement's winter string in Florida. Thursday night, she was to ship from Florida to New Orleans, lured by a turf race restricted to 3-year-old fillies weeks from turning 4.

"The shipping's a bit of a concern, but she looks well enough," said Clement.

Akilina is a New York-bred stakes winner, but has never won an open stakes. A false pace last month in the Flitalong compromised her chances.

"There was no pace," Clement said. "The filly on the lead won the race, and the filly who raced in second ran second. I think she should be good enough to compete."

Askbut I Won'ttell, privately purchased by Team Block earlier in the year, won her maiden over 11 turf foes early in the Gulfstream Park meet last season, and most recently led all the way capturing an entry-level Keeneland allowance race. Now trained by Neil Pessin, she has turned in three works since shipping into Fair Grounds from Kentucky.

Askbut I Won'ttell seems likely to come from off the pace Saturday, since there are several more serious pace-setters in the Pago Hop. Count among that group Redreamit, who won a Monmouth Park turf-route stakes in September going wire to wire. Redreamit was caught wide from post 12 while finishing 12th of 14 in the Mrs. Revere Stakes last month at Churchill.