03/12/2009 12:00AM

Duke of Homberg has beaten half these rivals


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After Duke of Homberg won last month's Hallandale Beach Stakes, trainer Tom Albertrani thought about waiting to run the horse until the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland on April 3.

But with the horse doing so well - not to mention Albertrani himself - and with no superstars entered in Saturday's $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes here, Albertrani decided to run the horse back in the Grade 3 turf event at 1 1/8 miles.

Duke of Homberg will face only six rivals in the Palm Beach, including three horses he defeated in the Hallandale Beach over this course on Feb. 15.

"It was coming up light," said Albertrani, who has recorded four of his seven stakes wins this year at Gulfstream. "Since we ran well over this course we thought we'd go ahead and enter him right back again. He's training well. If he runs back to his last race he figures to be right there again."

Duke of Homberg, a son of Dynaformer, won the Hallandale Beach in front-running fashion. He broke on top, was passed by Tamborim down the backside, then raced just off of that rival until the top of the stretch before pulling away. He was taken in hand late by Alan Garcia as Lime Rickey was trying to close on him.

Albertrani doesn't see the extra sixteenth of a mile of the Palm Beach as an issue for Duke of Homberg.

Frank Alexander, the trainer of Lime Rickey, believes distance will help his horse as he tries to improve upon his runner-up finishes in the Dania Beach and Hallandale Beach.

"I'm pretty sure he'll like it a lot better," Alexander said.

Among the new faces Duke of Homberg must beat is El Crespo, who won a maiden race by two lengths over this course on Jan. 10 but then tried his luck on dirt where he finished ninth of 10 in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. Trainer Rusty Arnold said he circled this race two days after the Holy Bull.

"He's back where we think he belongs," Arnold said. "We think he's got a pretty good future. He's probably a ways from his best, but he's coming."

Stormalory won his turf debut in allowance company last out for trainer Bill Mott. His closing style could be compromised on this dry and hard turf course. Beacon Hill Road, Sweetlandofliberty and Casey's On Call complete the field.