01/05/2007 12:00AM

Einstein may switch to dirt


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Einstein, last year's winner of the most important turf race of the meet, the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup, may shift gears and instead point for the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on the main track later in the meet.

"He's versatile so we're looking to try the dirt with him again and see where he fits," said trainer Helen Pitts. "Originally, I was pointing him for the Hal's Hope on the dirt this weekend to open the year but he popped a splint and that set us back a little bit. He's still a couple of works away and hopefully I'll be able to bring him back sometime the end of the month and get a race into him, either on turf or dirt, before the Gulfstream Handicap."

The Gulfstream Handicap will be run on March 3.

Einstein, who outgamed Go Deputy to win the 2006 Gulfstream Park BC, also won a second-level allowance race by seven lengths over a sloppy main track here last winter. He has not started since finishing fourth, beaten slightly more than a length by English Channel and Cacique in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on May 6.

Nightmare Affair's flop a mystery

Trainer Manny Azpurua Jr. is still scratching his head trying to figure out what happened to Nightmare Affair, who finished a well-beaten sixth behind Weigelia as the 6-5 favorite in Calder's Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap on Dec. 16.

Nightmare Affair came into the Kenny Noe off third-place finishes behind Eclipse Award sprint favorite Thor's Echo in both the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Grade 1 De Francis Dash but faltered badly after flashing some brief speed in his final start of 2006.

"The horse came back out of the race like he never ran and there is nothing wrong with him," said Azpurua, noting that the horse is training well and was scheduled to work on Saturday. "Maybe he just didn't handle the racetrack for some reason that day. I don't know. Sometimes horses run races you just can't understand."

Nightmare Affair concluded his 2006 campaign with 4 wins in 12 starts and earnings in excess of $725,000. His third-place finish in the De Francis enabled him to surpass the $1 million mark in lifetime earnings.

Azpurua said he's going to pick and choose the best spots possible for Nightmare Affair in 2007.

"I just want to do the best by the horse and find the easiest and most lucrative races possible," Azpurua said.

With that in mind, Azpurua chose to skip Saturday's Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap to await the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

Moubarak saddles a winner

Mohammed Moubarak, former stable manager for the Buckram Oak Stable, decided to return to training this year and wasted little time finding the winner's circle when he sent out Robert Perez's New York-bred American Senor to his maiden win in Friday's second race.

Moubarak, whose association with Buckram Oak ended shortly after the death last winter of owner Mahmoud Fustok, has eight horses stabled here, the majority of them 3-year-olds.

"I'm excited to be back at the track," said Moubarak. "I think I have a few young horses with some talent, including a colt by Gulch named Dragon Fi who seems to have a lot of class. Hopefully, he and some of the others will be ready to go by the middle of the month."

Silver Wagon works out

Silver Wagon, a Grade 1 winner whom Moubarak picked out for Buckram Oak, worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 at Palm Meadows on Friday.

Silver Wagon, who now runs for the Four Roses Thoroughbreds and is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., closed out his 2006 season with an easy victory in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap. A Florida-bred, he too is eligible for the Sunshine Millions Sprint.