07/02/2013 1:03PM

Gulfstream Park: Alley Oop Oop looks to continue turf success in Armed Forces

Tom Keyser
Bad Debt (aove) beat Alley Oop Oop by a neck the last time they met in the Bonnie Heath. The will clash again in Thursday's Armed Forces.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It took him a while to get there, but Alley Oop Oop found himself a home when finally getting the opportunity to compete on turf last fall. On Thursday, trainer Stanley Gold is hoping Alley Oop Oop will find a home away from home when he tries the Gulfstream Park turf course for the first time in the $100,000 Armed Forces, the first stakes race of the 2013 summer meet.

Alley Oop Oop had just modest success early in his career on dirt. He was stakes placed at 2, but had to drop into claiming company to finally clear his nonwinners-of-two condition over a sloppy track during spring 2012.

Alley Oop Oop, a son of Monsieur Cat, moved to the grass for the first time last September at Calder, the switch in surface proving an instant success when the homebred responded with a game three-quarter-length allowance win. Six weeks later, he became stakes placed for the second time in his career and first on turf when beaten a neck by Bad Debt following a wide trip in Calder’s Bonnie Heath.

Alley Oop Oop has won 3 of 8 starts, all on turf, since the Bonnie Heath while also a close second in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes during that span. He will enter the 1 1/16-mile Armed Forces off a well-graded starter allowance win going a mile at Calder on May 16.

“Moving him to grass was something overdue to try because his father was better on turf than dirt, and it didn’t take me by surprise at all that he’s performed well and maintained his form on it,” Gold said.

The Armed Forces will provide Alley Oop Oop the opportunity to avenge his previous setback to Bad Debt, who returns to Gulfstream from his summer base at Fair Hill, Md. Although winless in nine starts, including five over the local course, since his game decision in the Bonnie Heath eight months earlier, Bad Debt never seems to run a poor race. The 6-year-old Bad Debt was beaten just a half-length when finishing third in Tampa’s Turf Classic in April and less than a length by Za Approval when third again earlier this spring in Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Red Bank.

“He’s been a gem. He’s been very good to us” trainer Michael Trombetta said, referring to the fact Bad Debt has finished third or better in 28 of his 34 starts on grass.

Three of the 11 horses entered for the Armed Forces will run only if the race moves from the turf to the main track. That group includes the improved Majestic Express, a 9 3/4-length allowance winner at Calder on May 23; Megamove, runner-up in a pair of dirt stakes at Calder in May; and Imperial Czar.

Rule Number Six will carry high weight of 123 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Armed Forces. A versatile sort who has shown vast improvement over the past five months, Rule Number Six had his modest three-race win streak snapped when finishing eighth after pressing the early pace in Calder’s Memorial Handicap on May 25.