08/20/2002 11:00PM

Express Tour possible for Miami Mile


MIAMI - The nomination sheet for the $150,000 Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap on Labor Day at Calder consists of the usual array of local suspects, including graded turf winners Unite's Big Red, Band Is Passing, and Marquette. But surprisingly the list also includes Express Tour and Pisces, both of whom were stars around south Florida earlier in their careers before going on to bigger and better things out of town.

Express Tour was the toast of the local 2-year-old division here in 2000, winning all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes for owner-breeder Addison Silva and trainer Marty Wolfson. Silva sold him privately to Godolphin Racing shortly after his Stallion Stakes heroics and Express Tour returned quick dividends for Sheikh Mohammed when he upset stablemate Street Cry and Lido Palace to win the UAE Derby in his 3-year-old debut.

His success in the UAE Derby earned Express Tour a start in the 2001 Kentucky Derby, where he finished a tiring eighth behind Monarchos. An impressive win in Belmont's Grade 2 Jerome Handicap later that season convinced the Godolphin team that a mile was Express Tour's best distance. So they switched him to grass for the Breeders' Cup Mile, where he finished 10th after prompting the pace into the stretch.

Express Tour has started just twice this season, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Tom Fool and Salvator Mile handicaps.

Tom Albertrani, who oversees Godolphin's New York-based stable as assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said he's not certain whether Express Tour will run in the Grade 3 Miami Mile.

"No decisions have been made regarding Express Tour's status for the Miami Mile," said Albertrani. "There are not a whole lot of opportunities going a mile and that appears to be his best distance, so we've been looking around trying to find the right opportunity to win a graded race with him somewhere."

Pisces finished third in the 2001 Miami Mile and won Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Appleton Handicap last winter when he was in Mohammed Moubarak's barn. He was transferred to trainer Ken McPeek's barn after Moubarak became racing manager for Buckram Oak Farm last spring and has since gone on to hit the board in three more graded races. He was beaten less than three lengths by Beat Hollow in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve.

Owner Randy Mills is just hoping to finally be able to get a race into the old veteran Unite's Big Red after being frustrated time and again this summer because of rain. Now 8, Unite's Big Red has not started since finishing a troubled third in the Jackie Wackie Handicap on April 24.

Ivanavinalot sharp in workout

After watching Ivanavinalot duck out and essentially lose all chance at the break of the Desert Vixen Stakes, trainer Kathleen O'Connell said she would send the 2-year-old filly back to the gate before her next appearance, a week from Saturday in the $125,000 Susan's Girl Stakes. And O'Connell was true to her word, working Ivanavinalot an impressive six furlongs in 1:14.60 from the gate on Tuesday morning.

Ivanavinalot finished fourth as the 8-5 favorite in the Desert Vixen, opening leg of the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Ivanavinalot is one of a number of quality 2-year-old fillies racing here this summer. The list grew even larger over the weekend following impressive debut victories by Mary Murphy and Lavender Lass.