01/03/2011 1:21PM

First Dude, Tapitsfly get feel for Gulfstream turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Tapitsfly, shown at Santa Anita in the fall of 2009, missed all of last season because of an injury. She took the first step of her comeback by working six furlongs Monday on Gulfstream Park's turf course.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Gulfstream Park turf course was open for training for the first time this winter and attracted a small but select group that included First Dude and 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly.

First Dude, stepping foot on the turf for the first time in his career, worked five furlongs in 1:01.88 under jockey Kent Desormeaux. He was in turn followed by Tapitsfly, who breezed an easy and impressive looking six furlongs in 1:13.18. Tapitsfly has not started since winning the 2009 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.

“The turf is in great shape,” Romans said back at his barn a short while later. “All my riders were real happy with the course. Kent said it was like a carpet out there.”

First Dude closed out a successful albeit somewhat frustrating 3-year-old campaign by setting the pace before finishing a tiring eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The season included several strong efforts and near-misses in major races, including a second-place finish in the Preakness, third in the Belmont, third in the Haskell, third in the Travers ,and second, beaten a neck by Morning Line, in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.

“He’s never trained on the grass before so I was just testing him out there today to see how he likes it and Kent said he handled it well for the first time,” said Romans. “We’ll keep him on dirt for the time being with the Sunshine Million Classic to be his first start this year. But he’s out of a Smart Strike mare so somewhere down the road this year we’ll try him on grass.”

Tapitsfly suffered a couple of setbacks that kept her from running at 3. Monday marked her first work back on grass since the Breeders’ Cup.

“We took a chip out of her knee last year then brought her back a little quick and had to stop on her again and it wound up stretching into a longer layoff than we had anticipated,” Romans explained. “I’m still figuring out where and when I want to run her back first.”

The most impressive turf work of the morning was turned in by the Romans-trained C. S. Silk, who blistered five-eighths in 58.40 seconds in preparation for Sunday’s Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes. C. S. Silk is coming off a powerful 9 3/4-length allowance win over the Churchill turf course in her 2010 finale.

“When she works fast, she usually runs well,” said Romans.

C. S. Silk is one of two horses Romans is likely to start in the Marshua’s River, along with Persuading, who closed out her 2010 campaign with an equally impressive six-length allowance victory at Churchill.

“She really ended up the year in good fashion, is training great, and might just emerge into a stakes winner this year,” Romans said of Persuading, who worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.00 over the main track last week.

A field of from 10 to 12 older fillies and mares is shaping up for the 1 1/16-mile Marshua’s River. Along with the Romans duo, the field could also include Justaroundmidnight, Kiss Mine, Never Retreat, Quebrada Shiner, Satans Quick Chick, Scolara, Trip for A. J,. and Wild Mia.