03/30/2011 4:00PM

Gulfstream Park: Army Scout makes U.S., turf debut in allowance


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In their previous association together, owner Joe Allen and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin combined to win nine stakes races, including two graded events with the Irish-bred turf mare Volga.

Eight years after Volga won the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor and six years after they parted company, Allen and McLaughlin have reunited and will send out Army Scout – a 4-year-old son of Volga by Giant’s Causeway – in a seemingly strong second-level allowance turf race that serves as the featured event Friday at Gulfstream Park.

Army Scout will be making his first start on turf, first in more than a year, and first in North America in this 7 1/2-furlong race. Army Scout began his career in France with Jean-Claude Rouget, going 2 for 4 – all over Polytrack – with a narrow third-place finish in a listed stakes at Deauville on March 18, 2010. According to McLaughlin, Army Scout’s lengthy layoff was precipitated by a rapped tendon, an injury that has not been an issue since McLaughlin got the horse last November.

Army Scout has breezed nine times over the turf course at Palm Meadows, and McLaughlin likes what he has seen. He is just not sure if 7 1/2 furlongs is going to be Army Scout’s best game.

“We like him a lot, we just wanted to start off,” McLaughlin said. “Seven-and-a-half might be a little short for him, but for the first time out it’s a good spot. He’s trained very well, and we’re happy to be reunited with Joe Allen with a nice horse out of a good mare.”

Before McLaughlin got Volga for the final three starts of her career, Christophe Clement trained Volga for 10 starts, including a victory in the Grade 3 Matchmaker in 2003. On Friday, Clement sends out the European import Right One against Army Scout.

Right One is only 2 for 16 in his career. He is a full brother to Rouvres, a horse Clement trained to an allowance victory at Gulfstream off an eight-month layoff in the winter of 2003. Right One last raced at Deavuille on Dec. 20, winning the equivalent of an allowance race against 13 opponents.

Clement noted that Right One’s best European form was on Polytrack and that good to soft turf might suit the 5-year-old gelding better than firm ground. He has run well at the seldom-used 7 1/2-furlong distance.

“Probably the main reason he’s in there is because of the distance,” Clement said.

Almoradi and Avenuesnalleyways were part of the pace when finishing second and seventh, respectively, at this condition going a mile on March 5. Both figure to get more pace pressure Friday, with the presence of El Commodore and Just Playin Around in the field.

Though part of the pace when he dead-heated for win in a first-level allowance race here Feb. 20, Upgrade showed a strong closing kick when winning a starter allowance at Aqueduct last November for trainer Chad Brown.

Rogue Victory would benefit from a strong pace and drops in for the $62,500 optional claiming tag in this spot after finishing seventh in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf here Feb. 27.