07/31/2009 11:00PM

Colonel John impresses in turf debut


DEL MAR, Calif. - A two-length win by Colonel John in Friday's $91,970 Wickerr

Stakes at Del Mar, the five-time stakes winner's turf debut, left trainer Eoin Harty dazzled, and unsure whether to stay on turf.

"It's certainly a viable option now," Harty said. "He can do anything."

Harty did not mention a specific target on turf for Colonel John. One option would be the $300,000 Del Mar Mile on Aug. 29. Prior to Friday's race, Harty considered the Wickerr to be a prep for the $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 5 or the $1 million Pacific Classic here on Sept. 6.

Colonel John paid $6.80 as the favorite in the Wickerr.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Colonel John ran the mile in a quick 1:32.77, easily beating Becrux, the 7-year-old millionaire gelding. Ferneley finished third in the field of 10.

A 4-year-old colt by Tiznow, Colonel John raced in mid-pack until Gomez asked for a three-wide rally on the turn. Colonel John took the lead in early stretch and was sharp through the stretch, his first start since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita last December.

"I'm very impressed," Harty said. "It was a huge effort. Garrett said he was getting a little tired. I said, 'Look at the time.' "

Last year, Colonel John won the Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes. Owned by WinStar Farm, Colonel John has won 6 of 12 starts and $1,539,012.