Updated on 09/16/2011 6:39AM

Griffinite staying put for now

Email

NEW ORLEANS - Owner Ernie Paragallo and trainer Dick Lundy have not yet settled on the next start for their star-crossed colt , but he probably will run here next month and could emerge as a top contender for the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March.

Griffinite, who won the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland last spring and was fifth in the Preakness Stakes, shipped around the country in December. In his first start since Lundy took over his training, Griffinite won an allowance race at Aqueduct, only to be disqualified and placed fourth. Then he shipped to California to run in the

Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, where he was wiped out at the start and lost all chance.

From the Malibu it was on to Fair Grounds, where Griffinite has been in steady training with Lundy. Griffinite has not yet worked here, but Lundy said he's likely to breeze soon and shouldn't need much work to prepare for his next race.

That start could come in one of two races here: the Feb. 10 Whirlaway Handicap, the final prep for the New Orleans Handicap, or on turf in the Feb. 12 Mardi Gras Handicap. Griffinite has never raced on grass, but Lundy said he and Paragallo had discussed trying the colt on turf.

Lundy, who worked with Grade 1 horses when he trained privately for Allen Paulson several years ago, believes Griffinite has top-level ability, and hopes that a regular schedule this season will help advance the colt's development.

"He does everything so easily," Lundy said.

New hat thrown into ring

A new player in the 3-year-old colt division at Fair Grounds emerged Thursday when Bob's Image won his second straight route race here, beating favored Robe by 2 1/2 lengths in a first-level allowance.

Trained by Dallas Stewart and owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Bob's Image will probably run next in the Feb. 17 Risen Star Stakes and skip the Jan. 26 Lecomte Stakes, Stewart said.

Bob's Image, a son of Halo's Image who cost $65,000 at a 2-year-old in training sale, was not highly regarded by his connections and was gelded before he made the races. Beaten almost 30 lengths in his debut sprinting at Keeneland, Bob's Image improved when he stretched out in his second start, but still was beaten more than 12 lengths by Robe at Churchill Downs. Bob's Image went wire to wire to win an off-the-turf maiden race here by nine lengths on Nov. 26 and used similar tactics in his score Thursday.

Breaking sharply under jockey Lonnie Meche, Bob's Image took the early lead and set a torrid pace, running a half-mile in 46.24 seconds, which normally would prove a horse's undoing on this track. But Bob's Image found another gear in the stretch and easily held off Robe, though he understandably did not finish in a fast time.

"Basically, he looked like a horse who needed to stretch out," Stewart said. "Where we're going to run next, I'm not exactly sure. The Risen Star seems more likely than the other one [the Lecomte]. That might be coming back too quickly."

Strut the Stage getting ready

Trainer Mark Frostad is making plans for Sam-Son Farms's star runners in 2002, and one of them, Strut the Stage, could wind up racing at Fair Grounds.

The top Sam-Son horses winter at an Ocala, Fla., farm that's equipped with dirt and turf training tracks, then ship out to racetracks early in the year as they approach race readiness. Both Strut the Stage and last year's Queen's Plate winner, the filly Dancethruthedawn, resumed training about Dec. 1 after taking some time off. Dancethruthedawn's season ended after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, and Strut the Stage wound up his season with a troubled fourth-place finish facing older horses in the Grade 1 Canadian International. Strut the Stage stamped himself as one of the top 3-year-old turf horses in North America last year when he was defeated by a nose after a wide trip in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.

Frostad said Strut the Stage is up to a half-mile in his breezes now, and that the colt was likely to ship into Fair Grounds in February. If his training continues to go well, Strut the Stage will be pointed to the $700,000 Explosive Bid Handicap here March 24, though Frostad wants Strut the Stage to have a prep race before the Explosive Bid.

"I don't think I over-raced him as a 3-year-old," Frostad said. "The bigger money comes later, when they're older."