12/04/2010 3:09PM

Ex-claimer Temecula Creek looks tough in Parx stakes

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Temecula Creek, who began the year running for a $7,500 claiming tag and improved enough to get a small piece of the purse in the Grade 1 Vosburgh two months ago, and Gattopardo, a one-time Triple Crown prospect who resumed racing this fall after 2 1/2 years on the sidelines, head a field of eight older sprinters in Tuesday’s $75,000 Valley Forge Stakes at Parx Racing.

The 6-year-old Temecula Creek was claimed out of a ninth-place finish in a bottom-level $7,500 claiming race at Aqueduct last March. Under new trainer Rudy Rodriguez, Temecula Creek proceeded to reel off four straight wins in the starter allowance ranks. Ambitiously spotted in the Grade 1 Alfred Vanderbilt at Saratoga, Temecula Creek finished fifth while posting a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure. Two races later, he ran well enough to pick up a fourth in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, and then recorded a career-high 101 Beyer despite weakening in the final furlong of the Grade 3, seven-furlong Bold Ruler.

Most recently, Temecula Creek won a third-level optional $75,000 claimer at Aqueduct by 2 1/4 lengths, earning a 98 Beyer.

As a 3-year-old in the spring of 2008, the Maryland-based Gattopardo won the seven-furlong Miracle Wood and finished second in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct, leading to speculation trainer Tim Tullock might point the colt to the Preakness. But Gattopardo disappeared with an undisclosed injury and did not reappear until 30 months later, winning a third-level optional $40,000 claimer at Penn National. He prepped for Tuesday’s race, the second start of his comeback, with two sharp workouts at Laurel, including a best-of-47 four-furlong move in 47.00 seconds on Nov. 20.

The field also includes the speedy Piratesonthelake, a nine-time winner trained by Scott Lake, and Indianski, who gets tested for class after winning his first start off the claim for trainer Richard Vega.

Piratesonthelake has finished second in 3 of his last 4 starts, including the Dale Baird Memorial at Mountaineer.

Indianski, coupled in the wagering with Cabaret Cowboy, earned a career high 98 Beyer for his 3 1/2-length score in his first start for his new connections on Nov. 8.