05/13/2010 11:00PM

Gallorette foes target Rainbow View


BALTIMORE - With Forever Together and Informed Decision in his barn, trainer Jonathan Sheppard has two of the elite older females in the country. If there's strength in numbers, Sheppard is starting to look like Charles Atlas. He also has added the classy Rainbow View, who appears primed for a breakout year in the female turf division. Rainbow View was a sharp winner of her 2010 debut last month at Keeneland and looms a strong favorite Saturday at Pimlico in the Grade 3, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap.

The Gallorette, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, drew a field of 10, including a betting entry of Blind Date and Sales Tax. Rainbow View, a multiple Group 1 winner, carries top weight of 121 pounds and will spot her nine rivals anywhere from 3 to 9 pounds.

"It's a fairly tough race for a Grade 3, $100,000 race," Sheppard said Thursday by phone while visiting his string at Presque Isle Downs. "She's the highweight, but she's earned it; I'm not complaining. But she's going to have to be on her 'A' game."

That should not be a problem. Rainbow View comes into the Gallorette following a nice prep win at Keeneland, which followed a five-month layoff.

"I was relieved when she won," Sheppard said. "I ran several others there that were short. She was good enough to overcome her trainer."

Rainbow View was an unbeaten champion at age 2 in Great Britain, then suffered through a sophomore slump while competing exclusively in Grade 1 or Group 1 races. She won once last year before coming to the United States. Sheppard said he believes American racing will suit her.

"She's not big, but she's quick," Sheppard said. "At 2, she was quick enough, but they caught up to her last year. Those bulky fields and roughly run races in Europe put an emphasis on stamina. One would hope she could recapture her best form here."

The main rival to Rainbow View could be Ave, a Group 3 stakes winner in Ireland who is making her first start in North America. She is now trained by Roger Attfield.

Payton d'Oro, last year's winner of the Black-Eyed Susan, is trying turf for for the first time.

Maryland Sprint: Ravalo eyes repeat

Led by Ravalo, the top three finishers from last year's $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap are back for the 24th renewal of the Grade 3, six-furlong sprint stakes.

Ravalo overcame a slow start and prevailed in a stretch drive to beat Silver Edition by a head. Celtic Innis was two lengths back in third. While those two are back to challenge Ravalo again, this year's 11-horse field looks more competitive than last year's seven-horse field.

"It looks like a pretty evenly matched bunch," said Don Barr, the trainer of Ravalo, who is 2 for 2 at Pimlico. "I don't think anybody stands out."

Ravalo won last year's Maryland Sprint Handicap after being beaten by 4 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Commonwealth, a seven-furlong race run over Keeneland's synthetic track. This year, Ravalo was beaten

4 1/4 lengths in the Commonwealth, a race in which jockey John Velazquez took too much hold of the horse, as per Barr's instructions.

"I tried to save him because it was seven-eighths, which is farther than he wants to go," Barr said. "He sort of ran an uninspired race, but it looks like he came out of it okay."

Silver Edition has lost his last 11 races and has finished second in both of his starts at Pimlico. Lantana Mob beat Silver Edition by a neck in the 2009 Hirsch Jacobs here but hasn't won since. He got a useful prep in an allowance race at Churchill and could be the best closer in this speed-laden field for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Half Metal Jacket, trained by Chip Dutrow, is another who would benefit from a hot pace. Snapshot, trained by Bill Mott, looks like an up-and-coming sprinter, but jockey Kent Desormeaux may be forced to use his early speed from the rail.

- David Grening

Chick Lang: Comedero a big surprise

Michael Stidham has been training for 32 years, so it takes a lot to catch him off guard, but he is at a loss to explain how an Arkansas-bred 3-year-old named Comedero has blossomed into such a sensational racehorse.

"I'm a Ragozin guy, and I've never had a horse run a zero on the sheets," Stidham said. "That's what this horse did last out."

Comedero, with Robby Albarado to ride, will be a strong favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes here Saturday. With six entered, the six-furlong race drew the shortest field of the 13-race card.

Comedero, by Posse, easily won at Charles Town in his last start to run his career record to 6 of 7, with the only loss coming in a failed two-turn experiment last fall. He owns a high turn of early speed and figures a very tough catch Saturday.

"He came out of that last race in good shape and has had a couple nice little breezes since," Stidham said. "He seems as fast as ever. He's just very talented and fast. He's very uncomplicated in what he does, and he does it well. I would've never guessed it, really."

Probably the top challenger to Comedero is Quiet Invader, a last-out allowance winner at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert.

The Lang is named for the longtime Pimlico general manager who earned the nickname Mr. Preakness for his tireless promotion of the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Lang died in March at age 83, and Pimlico renamed what had been the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes in his honor.

- Marty McGee

Murphy: Soft ground aids Cat Park

The $70,000 James Murphy Stakes drew a contentious field of 13 3-year-olds going a mile on the turf. Provided the midweek rain took some of the sting out of the course, Cat Park may rate a slight edge for trainer Graham Motion.

Cat Park's two best speed figures - which came in an allowance win at Keeneland and a one-length loss in the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby - came on yielding ground. The only two bad races he's run came over firm ground at Gulfstream.

"I don't think Gulfstream suited him, it was rock hard," said Motion, who said he's likely to scratch his other entrant, Vamos a Ver, from the race. "It'll help him to get away from that type of ground."

Kera's Kitten won the first two starts of his career at age 2 over soft turf. He returns to the turf after running over Turfway Park's synthetic surface all winter.

Thunder Brew, a winner of the Sophomore Turf for Florida-breds at Tampa on April, 3, has won 4 of 7 starts on turf. He is trained by Anthony Pecoraro.

Trainer Christophe Clement has the uncoupled entry of Manhattan Fox and Montesquieu. Manhattan Fox finished second and third in a pair of allowance races at Gulfstream, and Montesquieu was a front-running maiden winner at Gulfstream.

- David Grening