01/12/2010 12:00AM

Father, son both have solid shots


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It will be father against son, teacher against pupil, Jerkens against Jerkens when Formidable takes on Desert Key in Wednesday's $51,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park. The six-furlong main event highlights a nine-race card that includes a pick six carryover of just under $50,000.

Allen Jerkens will send out Formidable off a ninth-place finish in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on Nov. 26. That was a race the Hall of Fame trainer wasn't pleased with but which key-race players will love.

"He didn't run any good in his last start," was all Jerkens had to say about Formidable's performance in the Fall Highweight. Perhaps the competition had something to do with that.

Four members of the field have since returned to win their next start, three of them in stakes: Cherokee Country, who won Philadelphia Park's Valley Forge by 2 1/2 lengths; Greenspring, winner of Laurel's Native Dancer by six lengths; and Hatfield, who won the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint by a length here on Saturday.

Formidable tuned up for the race Monday in typical Allen Jerkens fashion, working a half-mile in 48.50 seconds from the eighth pole around the turn to the six-furlong marker.

"This horse always looks like he's going to run good and then hangs the last part of it," Jerkens said. "There are some tough horses in there Wednesday, including a good one that Jimmy has."

Jerkens was referring to Desert Key, who will make his first start since finishing sixth and last in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 6. That performance snapped a string of seven straight races in which Desert Key had either finished first or second, including runner-up performances during his 2008 campaign in the Grade 1 King's Bishop and Grade 2 Amsterdam.

A son of E Dubai, Desert Key has trained extremely well for his return with a series of bullet and near-bullet works dating back to late November.

Vicarian and San Valentino could benefit from a fast pace or the same outside bias that affected the results on Sunday's card. Vicarian dropped in under a $50,000 claiming price to win his 2009 finale at Churchill Downs, while San Valentino rallied from last to capture a first-level allowance last summer in New Jersey.