01/26/2009 1:00AM

Early test for Talent Search

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey wanted to send Talent Search to Dubai last spring for the Dubai Golden Shaheen. But their plans went awry when the Grade 1-placed speedster suffered a hairline fracture that forced him to miss most of the 2008 season.

The Ramseys will attempt to get Talent Search to Dubai again this year, but first he must pass an important test Wednesday in his Gulfstream Park debut against a strong field in a $48,000 optional claiming race.

Talent Search has started only twice since setting the pace and finishing third behind Midnight Lute in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Talent Search ran second to Benny the Bull a month later in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial, and his lone start in 2008 was in the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland in October, when he ran a game second to Sing Baby Sing after setting a contested pace.

The Ramseys turned Talent Search over to trainer Mike Maker shortly after the Phoenix. He had previously been trained by Bobby Frankel.

"Getting this horse was a pleasant surprise, and he's had some issues we had to deal with, which cost us to miss some time," Maker said. "I was hoping to make the Mr. Prospector [Jan. 17], but he wasn't quite ready for that. He's doing well but you always have to be concerned coming off a layoff and by the fact he's stretching out to 6 1/2 furlongs.

"We're using this race to try to go to Dubai. Right now, that's the main goal."

Talent Search may be tested early on Wednesday by Knights Cross, who breaks from the rail. If so, it could set up the race for one of several late-runners, including Cool Coal Man, Bold Start, Gold Trippi, or Golden Spikes.

Cool Coal Man won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here last winter but has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont Park on Oct. 5. Also, he appears more effective at distances of a mile and beyond.

Bold Start won four races including a stakes in 2008 and is unbeaten in two starts at 6 1/2 furlongs. Bold Start, Gold Trippi, and Cool Coal Man have won twice over the local strip.

Golden Spikes, a Grade 2 winner last year at 3, appeared to struggle on the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita when finishing far back in the Grade 1 Malibu in his 2008 finale.

Rexson's Rose and Storm in May round out the lineup.