01/29/2011 3:53PM

Crossbow could be headed to Hutcheson


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.– How good a race was Saturday’s fifth event at Gulfstream Park, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs? When the race was over Rick Violette, the trainer of the runner-up Sovereign Default, was just as happy as his colleague Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the winner, Crossbow.

Crossbow and Sovereign Default dueled from start to finish before Crossbow edged away to a three-quarter-length decision. The victory was the second in a row for Crossbow, who won his maiden four weeks ago in New York.

“He’s a nice horse, he’s always been one of our favorites,” McLaughlin said. “He just beat a very good horse and it’s nice to see him win a race like this. Now we’ll look forward to the Hutcheson, although I’ll keep our options open and if need can even wait until the Swale.”

The Hutcheson is carded on Feb. 26, the Swale on April 3. Both are Grade 2 races at seven furlongs.

“That’s way all right,” Violette exclaimed as Crossbow and Sovereign Default crossed the wire. “That was a big race for my horse off the bench, especially being right down on top of the fence where it was definitely drier today.”

Sovereign Default was making his first start since being sidelined by an ankle issue following his impressive debut win at Belmont last July.

“We have lots of options now,” said Violette. “I’ll nominate him to everything and wait to see how he comes out of this race before making any plans.”

Rogue Romance likely for Risen Star

Trainer Ken McPeek had a busy morning here Saturday, working several of the big guns in his arsenal, including his top two Kentucky Derby prospects, Rogue Romance and Casper’s Touch.

Rogue Romance was the first of the McPeek workers to hit the track, going five furlongs in 1:01 with stablemate Magnet Cove. Rogue Romance, winner of the Grade 3 Bourbon on turf at 2, has not run since finishing a distant third behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“He’s penciled in for the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds but there is still a chance I might just wait and keep him here for the Fountain of Youth instead,” said McPeek.

Casper’s Touch drilled a bullet five-eighths in 58.96 seconds in company with Salty Strike, posting splits of 23.66 and 34.96 in the process while completing his final quarter-mile in 24.00 with jockey Julien Leparoux sitting chilly throughout. Casper’s Touch, who finished third at Ascot in his second career start at 2, concluded his abbreviated juvenile campaign with a 2 1/4-length maiden special weight win going a mile in November.

“He worked really, really well,” McPeek said of Casper’s Touch. “That was a very good filly he worked against. She was third in the Debutante last spring. Right now the plan is to run him in a `one other than’ allowance race here on Feb. 4, although that’s not set in stone. He could also go in the Hallandale Beach or to Tampa or Oaklawn.”

◗ Trainer Nick Zito sent out his top two older handicap horses to post bullet works on Saturday, Morning Line going a half in 47.71 and Fly Down five furlongs in 1:00.90. Morning Line and Fly down are among the 16 horses nominated for Saturday’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap.