Updated on 09/16/2011 6:47AM

Is Donn the race where Traditionally wakes up?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - For a horse with such a blue-blooded pedigree, Traditionally has spent a lot of time on the outside looking in. It took *, a son of Mr. Prospector and the great mare Personal Ensign, 13 starts just to get through his second allowance condition. Though he won the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap shortly thereafter, he has subsequently reverted to his underachieving self, losing four straight races by a combined 48 lengths.

So it seemed entirely appropriate at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday morning that Traditionally would draw the extreme outside post when 14 horses were entered for Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap. Fourteen runners ties for the second-largest Donn field in history, bettered only by the 16 who raced in 1983, when Deputy Minister won.

The Donn field is headed by Red Bullet, the winner of the 2000 Preakness Stakes, but his 5-2 price, according to Daily Racing Form's morning line, and the large field, reflects the wide-open nature of this race specifically, and the handicap ranks in general. Traditionally is 15-1 on the Form morning line.

But which Traditionally will be seen on Saturday? Will it be the horse who blossomed at this track one year ago, winning two straight by more than 15 lengths before his 5 1/4-length victory at Oaklawn? Or will it be the horse who finished sixth of eight, against a similar group of horses, here in last month's Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap?

Shug McGaughey, who trains Traditionally, was encouraged Wednesday that Gulfstream's track seemed faster than it had been all year, not quite as it was in previous years, but certainly not the deep, tiring surface it had been so far this meet. "I think he likes a harder track," McGaughey said. And McGaughey, while not overjoyed at drawing the outside, thinks the post could help Traditionally settle during the early part of the race.

"He was up on the pace last time. He was fresh," McGaughey said of the Skip Away, which was Traditionally's first start in nearly five months. "He needed the race. He got a little sick on me, we were behind, and then an allowance race I wanted to run him in didn't fill. We decided to run, even though we knew he was going to be keen, because we wanted to get a race into him.

"There's more speed in this race. That'll help. I mean, nobody wants to get the 14 post. But in retrospect, it might make it easier to get him back and get him covered up. But I'd rather be number 10 in a 10-horse field than 14 of 14. We'll take it, and hopefully it'll work to our benefit."

Pat Day, as usual, rides Traditionally, who has won 5 of 19 starts. Because of the artificially depressed weight assignments for this race - Lido Palace, who is not running, was assigned a mere 120 pounds as the topweight - Traditionally gets in with a feathery 112 pounds. Graeme Hall will be the highweight, carrying 118 pounds.

Graeme Hall drew post 10 and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. He will be making his first start since finishing second to his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate, Left Bank, in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 24.

There are 13 betting interests in the Donn, owing to the coupled entry of Mongoose and Ubiquity, both of whom are owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by James Bond.

The field, from the rail out:

Post. Horse, Jockey

1. Pleasant Divorce, Ramon Dominguez

2. Mongoose, Edgar Prado

3. Keats, Jorge Chavez

4. Free of Love, Rene Douglas

5. Best of the Rest, Eibar Coa

6. Ubiquity, Craig Perret

7. Hal's Hope, Roger Velez

8. Duckhorn, Mark Guidry

9. Red Bullet, Jerry Bailey

10. Graeme Hall, John Velazquez

11. Watch Your Pennies, Gary Bain

12. Rize, Jose Santos

13. Kiss a Native, Cornelio Velasquez

14. Traditionally, Pat Day.


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