02/02/2012 11:59AM

Gulfstream Park: Diez tries to run mark to 2 for 2 in Needles

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Darrin Miller expected Diez to break a little slowly and expected him to come running at the end when he launched his career going five furlongs on the turf here last month. What Miller didn’t really expect was for Diez to win the race

Miller’s expectations may be a little higher when he wheels Diez back under similar conditions in Saturday’s $60,000 Needles. The five-furlong overnight turf dash drew a field of only seven 3-year-olds which also includes stakes winners Hello Prince and Musical Flair.

Diez broke last and still trailed the field by nearly a dozen lengths while guided to the inside by jockey Julien Leparoux in the run down the backstretch when debuting on Jan. 11. Diez angled out for clearance while still almost 10 lengths behind the leaders turning for home, then finished full of run down the center of the course to overtake a wall of horses near the wire to register a half-length triumph.

“He’s a big colt, so I expected him to be a little tardy leaving there going five furlongs,” said Miller. “I figured he’d break slow, make a nice move, and hopefully split the pack, maybe run third or fourth. I was surprised and of course very pleased to see him roll on like that and win.”

Miller said his goal with Diez, a son of Rock Hard Ten, is to stretch him out farther, but the Needles looked like the perfect place for his second start.

“He needs a little more experience and this looked like a logical spot for him, the key being it’s a small field and not the toughest stakes in the world,” Miller said. “The timing kind of works out well, and naturally I’d like to see a repeat of his first start. Obviously things should be a little better at the gate the second time – he should be a little sharper. Hopefully we’ll see some more positive results, get a good gallop-out, and be able to move on to bigger and better things.”

Hello Prince has not started since cruising to a very impressive six-length victory in the Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder on Oct. 1. The Needles will mark the first try on grass for the Halo’s Image colt, who has turned in a couple of encouraging 1:02 and change five-furlong gate works at Calder in preparation for his return.

Musical Flair, easy winner of Calder’s grassy Fasig Tipton Dash in August, is also coming back from an extended layoff, having been idle since finishing far back after setting the pace in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity.

Town Prize also tries turf for the first time while coming off a third-place finish in the Spectacular Bid Stakes here on opening day. Town Prize set the pace to late stretch before succumbing in the six-furlong dash won by Ancient Rome. Town Prize is also stakes placed over the synthetic surface at Woodbine.

Silver Menace broke slowly and had an eventful trip while showing some promise in the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day. The son of Silver Wagon was purchased privately and turned over to trainer Kathy Ritvo after capturing his first two starts in impressive fashion in Chicago at 2.

Needles S., Post Time: 1:26 ET Saturday

Purse: $60,000; 5 furlongs (T)

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Hello Prince

D. Pita

J. Garcia

3-1

1

Indirectly A.P.

A. Sano

J. Bravo

15-1

1

Diez

D. Miller

J. Castanon

6-1

1

Silver Menace

K. Ritvo

J. Ferrer

5-1

1

Musical Flair

S. Santoro

J. Leyva

4-1

1

Martinia Madness

K. O'Connell

E. Nunez

8-1

1

Town Prize

D. Banach

E. Prado

2-1