02/15/2011 2:02PM

De Price trying the unknown at Gulfstream

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – De Price has never run on grass and never raced beyond seven furlongs. But he does own the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any member of the starting lineup in Thursday’s $51,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park, making him a key factor when trying to solve the riddle of the wide-open one-mile turf event.

De Price is coming off one of the better races of his career, a second-place finish going seven furlongs on the main track in which he broke a step slowly and had to steady momentarily in early stretch before finishing willingly behind Mia’s Angel. The effort earned De Price, a son of Aldebaran, a Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

As for handling the grass, even trainer Dale Romans says he’s not sure what to expect on Thursday.

“This race is pretty much an experiment for him,” Romans said. “He’s never run on the grass – in fact he’s never even worked on it, although he’s got some turf breeding. He hasn’t been two turns yet either, so we’re going to know a lot more about him after this race.”

Among the proven turf performers in the lineup, the best is Upgrade, coming off a $50,000 starter allowance win in his 2010 finale and a sharp second-place effort behind the red-hot Doctor Peach under allowance conditions here earlier in the meet. But Upgrade is on the also-eligible list and will need at least one scratch to start.

Longboarder will likely go postward the slight choice exiting three straight runner-up efforts under similar conditions to close out his 3-year-old season for trainer Michael Matz. Longboarder has been working regularly at Palm Meadows for his 2011 debut.

Another question mark in the field is Estimate, who will be making his U.S. debut for trainer Todd Pletcher. Estimate finished in the money in seven of his 10 previous grass starts in France but remains winless since earning his diploma in his 2-year-old finale in October of 2009.

Sharing top billing on Thursday’s card is a second $51,500 entry-level allowance race to be decided at a mile on the main track for 3-year-old fillies. The field features the exciting prospect Shared Heart, who posted an 11-length triumph launching her career here last month.

Other key contenders include the multiple graded stakes placed Missyoulikecrazy, multiple stakes placed Beso Grande, and the Grade 3 placed Salty Strike.