02/25/2005 12:00AM

Dubleo, Lord Robyn in turf war


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There are only two graded-stakes winners in Sunday's $60,000 Dave Feldman Stakes. One is , a two-time graded-stakes winner and likely heavy favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. The other is Lord Robyn, who may again be overlooked a bit in the wagering despite coming off an easy win in Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day.

was struggling over the dirt, having lost three straight races by an average of 16 lengths, when trainer David Fawkes first put him on the turf under a $35,000 claiming tag at Calder on Nov. 12. Since then, Lord Robyn - a son of Robyn Dancer - has won three straight starts, including the Tropical Park Derby by 4 1/2 lengths.

"I decided to try him on grass because he was kind of weak in behind, and I thought putting him on turf might help him grab the surface a little better," said Fawkes. "And also because my wife, Celia, kept pestering me to run him on grass."

Fawkes knows Lord Robyn faces a tough task running against the likes of Dubleo on Sunday, especially since both horses have a similar running style.

"I told Eibar [Coa] in the derby, 'If he makes the lead, fine, but don't push him to be in front,' " said Fawkes. "You can place him in behind horses in the morning, and I'm hoping he isn't the type of horse who has to be in front."

Dubleo has won five of six starts and is a neck short of being perfect since Pletcher switched him to the turf last summer. Dubleo, a son of Southern Halo, got the majority of those victories from on the lead, although he rallied from just off the pace to win Hollywood Park's Grade 3 Generous Stakes in his 2-year-old finale.

Should the two speedsters end up in an early battle, late runners such as Crown Point and Tadreeb may prove the major beneficiaries.

rallied to win Belmont's Pilgrim Stakes at 2 and was a late-striding third behind Lord Robyn in the Tropical Park Derby.

, fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Pilgrim, launched his 3-year-old season with a come-from-behind, three-quarter-length victory

over Pletcher's highly regarded Guillaume Tell under first-level allowance conditions here on Jan. 29.

The remainder of the field is made up of Initially, Majestic J C E, Win Me Over, Champagne Brunch, Elusive Thunder, Safely Run, and Cherokee Chase. Giant Wrecker was entered for the main track only.