12/12/2009 12:00AM

Fly by Phil picks up where he left off


MIAMI - Trainer Kathleen O'Connell thought enough of her promising 2-year-old Fly by Phil that she planned to run him against the mighty Jackson Bend in the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes off his maiden win. Unfortunately, she never got that opportunity after Fly by Phil suffered a minor foot injury training up to the final leg of the Stallion series.

Fly by Phil, who won his maiden Sept. 20 by nearly 11 lengths despite being geared down to almost a walk through the final furlong, finally returned to action Friday. The homebred son of Act of Duty rallied from off the pace to win a first-level allowance race going a mile and 70 yards by a comfortable 2 1/2 lengths.

Fly by Phil's victory was one of three on the card for O'Connell, putting her atop the trainer standings entering the weekend's action.

"It was a nice day, and it's been a good meet," said O'Connell, who trains Fly by Phil for owner Gilbert Campbell. "In fact, we had a good summer, too, both here and at Colonial Downs."

O'Connell, far and away the winningest female trainer in Calder history, had been eagerly awaiting Fly by Phil's return.

"The foot injury he caused himself," O'Connell said. "He's just such a good feeling horse. It wasn't serious. The worst part about it was the timing, since we had the In Reality in mind for a while. Especially, the way he won his maiden in little more than a gallop. With no disrespect to Jackson Bend, I think Fly by Phil would have been right in the mix if he'd gotten to run."

O'Connell has nothing targeted for Fly by Phil's next start.

"He's got a lot of potential and is very exciting, so we'll just wait and see what's available," O'Connell said. "He could have won the race yesterday by a wider margin, but he's still a little green. He saw something in the infield and kind of shied away and finished in the six or seven path. I might have to close up his blinkers a bit for next time."

As for possibly winning her first Calder training title, O'Connell remained optimistic but not overly confident, despite being atop the standings with only three weeks remaining in the meet.

"I have two full barns, 40 horses here, although a guy like Marty Wolfson has a little more firepower than I do," said O'Connell, who also has 18 horses currently stabled at Tampa Bay Downs. "The key to winning the title will be getting the races to go for my horses when they're entered. I've had a lot of horses, even some with zero dates on the turf, who I haven't been able to get into a race for a while."

w Although restrictions on shipping in and out of the Calder barn area were lifted Sunday, the change had no effect on Monday's entries, with not a single horse on the eight-race card shipping in for the races. Gulfstream Park has restricted any horses currently stabled at the track or the Palm Meadows training center from returning if they ship to race at Calder through Dec. 21.

w Trainer Jim Hatchett and the Monarch Stable unveiled a real runner Saturday, Wildcat Frankie, who cruised to a 15 1/2-length victory in the sixth race. The son of Wildcat Heir's final time of 1:04.90 was one of the fastest turned in here by a 2-year-old in some time.