08/22/2012 3:22PM

Emerald Downs: Gallant Son's future will be as turf sprinter

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Benoit & Associates
Trainer Frank Lucarelli plans to shift Gallant Son's focus to turf sprints.

AUBURN, Wash. – After his seventh-place finish Sunday in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, when he failed to sustain a bold five-wide run on the turn, Gallant Son will transition to what trainer Frank Lucarelli hopes is a more suitable role as a turf sprint specialist when he makes his next start, likely at Santa Anita, this winter.

The champion 2-year-old at Emerald Downs in 2008, when he dominated the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity by six lengths, Gallant Son hasn’t won a race around two turns since April 2010 and hasn’t prevailed on a dirt or synthetic surface since that Gottstein victory nearly four years ago.

In his most recent victory, in the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park last July, Gallant Son ran six furlongs on grass in 1:08.81 under Mike Smith to beat the very quick Streakin Mohican by a head. Lucarelli would like to see more efforts like that one.

“I think with Gallant Son, I need to go back to the drawing board,” Lucarelli said Monday. “I actually think the horse has turned into a one-run sprint horse now. In his last five or six routes, he’s looked like a winner on the turn and not won any of them. He reminds me of Point of Reference, who looked like a better route horse when I first got her, and then she turned into a monster one-turn sprint horse. So we’re going to freshen him up and wait until January at Santa Anita and try him in some of those 6 1/2-furlong turf races. He ran real well in those when Regally Ready was dominating everything down there.”

Gallant Son finished behind Regally Ready in his three tries last year on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, and Regally Ready went on to take the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Gallant Son showed tactical speed in each of those starts, yet Sunday in the Longacres Mile, he was dead last at the half-mile pole under William Antongeorgi III. He rolled up to be third around the turn before flattening out.

“I wasn’t real happy with where he was laying, but it’s so hard to give instructions,” Lucarelli said. “If you give that horse a little, then he’s so hard to rate, so I don’t want to overstate that and have him run off. But I don’t want what happened to happen, either. He could have been third or fourth in there, who knows? Everybody could have got a good trip and done better.”