08/13/2009 11:00PM

Duveen tries to turn back the clock

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Duveen, a multiple graded-stakes winner who fought against retirement when a nagging hind injury threatened to end his career, launches a comeback Sunday at Monmouth Park in a third-level optional $50,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Now 5, Duveen simply wasn't ready to quit.

"When they took him to the auxiliary barn in Ocala, he got so depressed," said trainer Elizabeth Gray. "He broke out in hives, lost weight, wouldn't come to the front of the stall. Once they took him back to the training barn, his whole attitude changed. He wanted to go back into training."

The will to run brought Duveen to this moment, only his third race in more than two years.

Duveen was a 3-year-old turf sensation in the first half of 2007 for trainer Dale Romans, jumping up from a maiden win to capture consecutive Grade 3 stakes: the Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park and the American Turf at Churchill Downs.

Duveen ran only twice more that year, in a pair of Grade 2 stakes. He had a second in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill and a seventh in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

Duveen didn't run again until May of last year, finishing fifth behind Einstein in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill. He was back on the shelf following a fifth in an allowance race at Belmont Park for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

"It was a nagging injury and it needed more time than they suspected," said Gray, a longtime assistant to Romans who opened her own stable last year. "He seems like he's back to his old self. Every week he's gotten strong and better."

Although this will be Duveen's Monmouth debut, there is a link. The late Bob Scanlon, who had a stable at Monmouth for several seasons, was a member of the partnership that bred the son of Horse Chestnut.

Gray is hopeful Duveen can turn the clock back to early 2007.

"As long as he puts in a good performance, we'll be really happy," Gray said. "Some of these horses, the older they get, the better they get. He can be a fun horse for a number of years."

The field also includes Cable Boy, another one who battled back from injury. A suspensory injury has limited Cable Boy, a contender in the 2007 Haskell Invitational, to only three races in the last two years.