05/27/2008 11:00PM

D'artagnans'spirit spotted back on the dirt in sprint


MIAMI - The way Monday's Memorial Day Handicap played out, D'artagnans'spirit would likely have been a major factor had trainer Kirk Ziadie opted to keep the hard-knocking gelding in the starting lineup for the holiday fixture. Instead, Ziadie decided to let D'artagnans'spirit do what he does best - sprint - and he passed the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day for Friday's six-furlong feature at Calder, an optional claiming and allowance race that carries a purse of $25,000 and serves as a prep for the $100,000 Ponche Handicap on June 14.

D'artagnans'spirit will return to the main track on Friday after once again failing to run his best on grass in the rich Turf Sprint Handicap here April 26. A 6-year-old son of Secret Hello, he finished seventh after taking up on the turn in the Turf Sprint, although he did finish in front of stablemate Blue Pepsi Lodge, who came right back to capture the Champali Stakes on dirt earlier this month.

D'artagnans'spirit spent the past winter at Tampa Bay Downs, where he finished fourth in a pair of overnight stakes. First he was behind the track's sprint kingpin, Lookinforthesecret, in the Pelican Stakes, and then behind Blue Pepsi Lodge and Lookinforthesecret in the Hilton Garden Inn Sprint.

The competition this time around does not figure to be as formidable for D'artagnans'spirit, who becomes eligible for the race by competing for a $150,000 claiming price. A two-time stakes winner in 2007, he will try Calder's main track for the first time since he finished a neck behind the Memorial Day Handicap's winner, Finallymadeit, in the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love overnight stakes on Nov. 24.

D'artagnans'spirit could face his toughest opposition from uncoupled stablemate Dukes Flying Tiger, if both start. Dukes Flying Tiger is coming off a career-best performance, a 4 1/4-length optional claiming and allowance win on April 26, for which he received a Beyer Speed Figure of 96. The victory was the second in a row for Dukes Flying Tiger, a gelded son of Tiger Ridge whom Ziadie claimed last summer for only $25,000.

Like D'artagnans'spirit, Dukes Flying Tiger will also race with a $150,000 price tag on Friday.

Rexson's Rose has competed in five graded stakes since the beginning of his 4-year-old campaign and finished a distant second behind Commentator in the Grade 2 Richter Scale Handicap on March 8. A homebred son of Suave Prospect, he was a tiring fifth in the mile-and-70-yard Sumter Stakes in his most recent start. He is seeking his first victory since earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102 winning a third-level optional claiming and allowance race at Gulfstream in January 2007.

How's Your Halo, fourth in the Grade 1 Forego last summer at Saratoga, and stakes winner Gin Rummy King will both launch their 2008 campaigns in Friday's main event. They round out a field that also includes Machismo and Put Back the Shu.

* Nominations for the Ponche and three other six-furlong sprint stakes also worth $100,000 - the Leave Me Alone for 3-year-old fillies, the Unbridled for 3-year-olds, and the U Can Do It Handicap for fillies and mares - close Saturday. All four events serve as the final local preps for the $1.3 million Summit of Speed card here on July 12.