03/14/2009 12:00AM

Coast clear for Ducky Drake


PHOENIX, Ariz. - It took Southern California raider Peace Chant to prevent Ducky Drake from capturing Turf Paradise's marquee event, the Phoenix Gold Cup on Feb. 14. There is no such obstacle in Ducky Drake's path when he heads Monday's $50,000 Coyote Handicap. The 6 1/2-furlong event drew a field of seven, including a few others who come out of the Phoenix Gold Cup.

But there is little doubt Ducky Drake is the one to beat. The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Ralph and Aury Todd and trained by Bart Hone, has been a model of consistency throughout his career, despite his come-from-clouds style that puts a premium on getting the right trip. Ducky Drake has made his own breaks often, winning 12 of 29, including numerous stakes, while earning $384,689. He got a summer vacation last year and has been as good as or better than ever, finishing first or second in all six starts since returning. Four of those were victories including the Lea County at Zia Park on Nov. 2 and the G Malleah here Jan. 24. He was also second in Sunland's KLAQ Handicap Dec. 13.

In the Gold Cup, Ducky Drake was far back, as usual, but put in a strong, sustained rally to get second behind Peace Chant. Regular rider Mark Villa stays aboard the 123-pound highweight.

Twin Sparks, Goin' Dancin, and Bobadieu also exit the Gold Cup, having finished third, sixth, and ninth, respectively. Twin Sparks pressed a sizzling pace in the Gold Cup for trainer Karl Meyers and stayed on smartly for third. He was also third to Ducky Drake in the G Malleah. His speed should have him in front of Ducky Drake early and allow him first run. He also worked a bullet half-mile in 46.80 seconds here March 3 to show he retains his edge.

Goin' Dancin stalked the hot pace in the Gold Cup for trainer Troy Smith, loomed ominously along the inside into the lane, but couldn't sustain his run, ending up sixth. He should be prominent from the start.

Bobadieu was never really a factor in the Gold Cup, finishing ninth. He was second in the Caballos del Sol here Nov. 8 but then was sidelined a couple of months and hasn't come back as sharp for trainer Doug OIiver. Before his Phoenix Gold Cup run, he was 10th in the G Malleah, beaten 15 3/4 lengths by Ducky Drake.

He has shown signs of life in the mornings since, however, posting three consecutive bullet works (34.40 seconds on March 13, 58.40 on March 7, and 46.60 Feb. 24).