01/19/2009 12:00AM

Einstein will run in the Donn


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The decision is in regarding Einstein's 2009 debut. It will come Jan. 31 in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap instead of in quest of his third victory in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf the following afternoon.

Trainer Helen Pitts confirmed the choice after Einstein worked five furlongs in 1:03 over the Gulfstream main track.

"He did it easily enough," said Pitts. "He wasn't under any pressure at all, although he doesn't seem to handle this particular track as well as the main track at Churchill Downs. This one is a little deeper and sandier. He just skips over the dirt at Churchill."

The versatile Einstein ran in both races a year ago, finishing sixth in the Donn three weeks before capturing his second Gulfstream Turf win. The Gulfstream Turf, which was shortened from 1 3/8 miles to 1 1/8 miles this year, was also moved up on the schedule, precluding any chance for Einstein to run in both races again this winter.

"We're going to try the Donn again," said Pitts. "He got into some trouble in the race last year, and it would surely enhance his value at stud if he could add a Grade 1 win on dirt to all his Grade 1's on the turf. And a big effort in the Donn would also give us other options to look at as the year progresses."

Einstein won a Grade 2 on dirt in 2008, closing out his year with a victory over Delightful Kiss and Commentator in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

The decision to run in the Donn nullifies the possibility of a compelling rematch between Einstein and 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville, who is pointing for the Gulfstream Park Turf. Kip Deville defeated Einstein by a length when they met last April in the Maker's Mark Mile.

Trainer Rick Dutrow was hoping to be granted permission to work Kip Deville over the turf course between races here on Wednesday.

Albertus Maximus, winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and likely favorite in the Donn, worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Palm Meadows on Monday. Albertus Maximus was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's barn after being purchased privately by Shadwell Stable shortly after the Breeders' Cup.

Notonthesamepage works fast

Notonthesamepage had his first official work since his eye-popping victory in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on opening day, breezing four furlongs in 47.40 here on Sunday.

"I had to do something with him," said trainer Wesley Ward later that afternoon. "He's been tearing the barn down. He did that easily today. I even had the exercise rider on him, not a jock."

Ward said that as sharp as Notonthesamepage is at the moment, he will not waver from his original plan to wait to run him in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at a mile on Feb. 28.

"It's a long time in between starts, but I always like to give horses as much time as possible after running such a big race like he did," said Ward. "I'll just let him do what he did this morning for a couple of weeks then put him on a little stiffer and more regular work schedule in February."

Notonthesamepage earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure in the Spectacular Bid, easily highest of any 3-year-old in the country.

Big Drama's new year starts soon

While Notonthesamepage was stretching his legs at Gulfstream, another of the more highly regarded 3-year-olds training in south Florida was doing the same across town at Calder. Big Drama, who closed out his juvenile campaign with a victory in the Delta Jackpot, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20, much to the satisfaction of trainer David Fawkes.

"Just an easy work," said Fawkes, who said the 1 1/8-mile Holy Bull a week from Saturday remains the most likely option for Big Drama's 3-year-old debut.

West Side Bernie, runner-up behind Big Drama in the Delta Jackpot, worked five furlongs in 1:00.05 at Palm Meadows on Sunday in preparation for the Holy Bull.

Pletcher trio tunes up for Millions

Trainer Todd Pletcher had his three south Florida-based Sunshine Millions candidates out for their final serious preps at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Atoned went a half-mile in 48.40. Icy Atlantic ran the same distance in a more leisurely 49.75, and Leah's Secret went four furlongs in 48.60.

Atoned, winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus at the Meadowlands in his last start, will run in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Saturday, while Leah's Secret and Icy Atlantic will head west to run in the Sunshine Millions Distaff and Sunshine Millions Turf, respectively, at Santa Anita Saturday. Pletcher also entered Carnack's Choice in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. Carnack's Choice is stabled at Santa Anita.

* Kent Desormeaux holds a 12-10 lead in the jockey standings over John Velazquez and Eibar Coa as racing resumes Wednesday. Jose Lezcano and Alan Garcia are tied for fourth with nine wins each.