05/16/2007 11:00PM

Fleet Valid heads speedy sprint field


BALTIMORE - A conventional handicapping maxim is that an inordinate amount of speed in any given race will tend to set things up for a stretch runner. The Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap sure has the look of a race that could ruin the early goers and fall the way of a closer, but Mike Trombetta is hoping the opposite proves true.

Trombetta will send out the speedy Fleet Valid in the $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint, a six-furlong race that drew eight older horses, and he hopes the colt will do exactly what he did last year on Preakness Day at Pimlico: win.

"He's a very, very fast horse," Trombetta said. "There might be some other speed in there, but if my horse breaks, they're going to be hard-pressed to get around him."

Fleet Valid, with Edgar Prado to ride, enters off three straight wins, with the first of those coming last year in an entry-level allowance on the Preakness undercard. Trombetta acknowledged the colt has "had some problems along the way," accounting for just two races in the interim, but both have been sensational, including an April 28 allowance triumph at Delaware Park in which he earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

If Fleet Valid is to be caught and beaten, it most likely will happen if two other early runners, Talent Search and/or First Word, can apply steady pressure. The most logical candidate to capitalize is Diabolical, a stalking type who most recently was second in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

"I think we've all got Diabolical to outrun," Trombetta said.

The rest of the field is Semaphore Man, Celtic Innis, Sir Classic Chris, and Euro Code.

Jacobs: Street Magician cuts back

Had Street Magician performed up to expectations in the Withers, he may have run in the Preakness. But after finishing a disappointing fifth, the connections of Street Magician decided to take a step back in class and distance.

Thus, Street Magician now looms as the horse to beat in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes at six furlongs. Eight were entered but only seven will run, as Sports Town won Thursday's Ogygian Stakes at Belmont.

Street Magician, a son of Street Cry, was in the three-path of the Withers when the rail was the place to be. Street Magician faded to fifth, 5 1/2 lengths behind Divine Park. Trombetta said he didn't learn enough from that race to decide whether to stretch Street Magician out in distance or cut him back. He left the decision up to owner Larry Johnson.

"I put it in his court and he said 'Let's go back to the Hirsch Jacobs,' " Trombetta said. "Going back to three-quarters with this kind of company, I got a pretty good comfort level that would be helpful for him."

Rafael Bejarano will ride Street Magician from post 5.

Heart Throbbin', trained by King Leatherbury, is 2 for 2 at Pimlico, including a victory in the Maryland Stallion Station Stakes on April 21. He finished second to Hard Spun in a minor stakes at Delaware last fall.

The speedy Like Mom Like Sons, a son of Carson City, is undefeated in four career starts, all over the Polytrack at Woodbine. Stormin Baghdad has recorded all three of his wins over Polytrack, including a second-level allowance score at Keeneland last out.

Finallymadeit, Southwestern Heat, and Hobbitontherocks complete the field.

- David Grening

Gallorette: 'Kitten' concedes weight

Precious Kitten, second to graded stakes winners Wait a While and My Typhoon in her two starts this year, should find the company a little more to her liking in the Grade 3, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. A field of 11 was drawn for the race.

Last fall, after coming to trainer Bobby Frankel's barn, Precious Kitten won the Mt. Washington Breeders' Cup at Laurel and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill. In between, she had a troubled trip when second to Meribel in the Valley View. This year, Precious Kitten held her own against 3-year-old filly champion Wait a While on the turf at Gulfstream, and My Typhoon over the Polytrack in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland.

"She's been running really well," Frankel said. "Her last two races were really good. Her [speed figures] have really improved. The distance is not a problem."

Perhaps the only problem is that Precious Kitten will carry 122 pounds, conceding 6 to 11 pounds to the remainder of the field.

Aunt Henny, who won the Virginia Oaks and Herecomesthebride last year, makes her third start of this year in the Gallorette. She finished fourth behind Wait a While - her first start in eight months - in the Honey Fox before coming back with a solid second-place finish in the Magna Distaff Handicap. She figures to be forwardly placed or in a stalking position under Edgar Prado.

"I wasn't crazy about going up against Wait a While, but she ran okay," said Michael Matz, trainer of Aunt Henny. "I thought she ran better the second time. Hopefully, this will be a little bit nicer spot."

Grigorieva, an Irish-bred daughter of Woodman, finished second in the Dahlia Stakes at Laurel last month. That was her first start in North America - and first since August - and Grigorieva walked out of the gate but came flying to just miss to High Moment, who also is in this field.

"I thought she ran pretty respectably for first time back; I thought she did well to make up as much ground as she did," trainer Graham Motion said. "We've had her out of the gate once since and she came out pretty well. I'm hoping it's not going to be an issue."

- David Grening

Schaefer: Flashy Bull enters strong

For a brief period in spring 2006, it appeared Flashy Bull might not get into the Kentucky Derby field and would run instead in the Preakness.

But the colt did run in the Derby, finishing 14th, after which his owners, the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate, decided to bypass the Preakness. One year later, a new-and-improved Flashy Bull will finally get to run at Pimlico when going postward as one of the favorites in the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap.

Flashy Bull, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, is entered off back-to-back allowance victories, including a four-length score at Aqueduct on April 18, when he earned a lifetime-high Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

"He's got a killer instinct this year," West Point spokesman Jeff Lifson said.

At 1 1/8 miles, the Schaefer "should give us an indication of whether we should keep him in races ranging from seven furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth, or whether we can look down the road at longer races like the Whitney or Woodward," Lifson said. "This is a big race for him."

Alan Garcia will be aboard Flashy Bull when the colt breaks from the outside post in a field of nine older horses. His primary opposition could come from Hesanoldsalt, the Nick Zito-trained colt who has been competing in graded races against the likes of Invasor and Corinthian.

Other Schaefer contenders include Two Sixty Four, Take the Bluff, and Sunriver, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt whose last victory came in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on the same afternoon of the 2006 Preakness.

Ryan's for Real, Urban Conquest, Smelling Salts, and Belongs to Joe round out the field.

- Marty McGee

Turf Sprint: Field shows strong form

There's no shortage of horses with sharp form in the $100,000 Baltimore City Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

Six of the 10 entrants in the five-furlong dash ran either first or second in their most recent start, including four runners who exit wins in grass sprints.

The contenders include Salute the Count, unbeaten in four turf sprints; Heros Reward, winner of three straight grass sprints; Tacirring, back on the grass for only the second time since January 2006 but a two-time turf stakes winner in 2005; and Midwatch, a seven-time winner on grass who cuts back in distance following a second-place finish going a mile three weeks ago.

The toughest horse to gauge is Max West, a 7-year-old gelding based at Philadelphia Park with owner-trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero. Max West, who has recorded 8 of his 10 lifetime wins in turf sprints, was first or second in 6 of his 8 starts last season, including a win in the $100,000 Turf Monster at Philadelphia Park.

Sent off at 5-2 in his 2007 debut at Atlantic City two weeks ago, Max West failed to show his customary early speed and beat only one horse.

The fact that Guerrero brings him back quickly seems a positive sign.

The lukewarm favorite could be Salute the Count, who got up by a nose in Max West's comeback, and is 4 for 4 on grass since he was claimed for $20,000 by Tony Dutrow last June.

Also dangerous, if she runs here rather than Friday's The Very One, is the 6-year-old mare Unbridled Sidney. She has faced males in her last three starts, winning the Cherokee Run at Churchill Downs last fall but finishing off the board as the favorite the other two times.

- Joe DeVivo

Murmur Farm: Two come off claims

A field of 13 older males will run 1o1/16 miles in the day's 13th and final race, the $50,000 Murmur Farm Starter Handicap.

Topping, who ran well in last fall's Maryland Million Starter Handicap, and Girl's Best Friend, a winner of his last start, are intriguing. Both became eligible for this race, restricted to horses which have started for $16,000 or less within the last year, in races from which they were claimed last time out. - Joe DeVivo