05/16/2008 11:00PM

Duke's Flying Tiger brings in a big Beyer


MIAMI - The combination of a 30 percent purse cut and the recent expansion of the racing schedule from four to five days a week has created a situation where the feature event on Monday's program is for $25,000 claimers, and the entire nine-race card will be run for purses totaling just over $90,000, including Florida owner awards.

A field of eight, including one horse entered for the main track only, will decide the main event, scheduled for five furlongs on the turf. Duke's Flying Tiger figures to go postward as the heavy favorite despite the fact that he has not hit the board in three previous starts on grass. He is, however, exiting a career-best performance, when he earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure defeating optional claiming competition by four lengths over the main track on April 26.

Duke's Flying Tiger will likely have to catch the speedy Asisa's Assault, who smoked through early fractions of 20.50 seconds and 42.95 when making his turf debut under allowance conditions at Gulfstream Park on April 12. After contesting that torrid pace along with Hot Zam, Asisa's Assault faded to finish a well-beaten fifth.

Earlier this winter, Asisa's Assault gave the multiple-stakes-placed Straight Faced all he could handle before finishing second in the Florida Thoroughbred Charity Stakes over the artificial surface in Ocala.

Another key contender in Monday's headliner is Shepherd Street, who makes his first start since being claimed by trainer Tim Ritvo out of a win for $6,250 at Gulfstream on April 20. Shepherd Street has shown marked improvement since switching to the turf.

Apprentice scores with two longshots

Apprentice Marleni Noguera is hoping to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Edgar Prado and Jorge Chavez, both of whom began their U.S. riding careers in south Florida.

Noguera, 21, won 49 races in her native Peru before coming to the U.S. in March. A graduate of Peru's jockey school, Noguera won one race at Gulfstream Park but caught the eye of local horsemen when she booted home a pair of longshot winners on Thursday's program, including Alarming Afleet for trainer Enrique Alonso in the afternoon's feature race. Noguera's first win that day came over the turf aboard the 25-1 longshot Running Aptitude for trainer Mario Morales.

* Apprentice Paco Lopez held a

15-13 lead in the jockey standings over Manoel Cruz entering Saturday's program, but saw that advantage quickly disappear after Cruz won the first and fifth races on the card. Cruz won the 2003 and 2006 Calder riding titles and finished second last summer behind Elvis Trujillo. He is also the defending Tropical-at-Calder riding champion.