03/04/2013 1:23PM

Gulfstream Park: Dreaming of Neno to get first turf test in Wednesday optional claimer

Bob Coglianese
Determinato will seek his third straight win for trainer Bill White in Wednesday's $57,500 optional claimer.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Can Dreaming of Neno handle the turf? That might be the key to solving Wednesday’s $57,500 main event at Gulfstream Park, a race scheduled to be run at five furlongs on the grass under second-level optional claiming conditions.

Dreaming of Neno will switch to the grass after making his first five starts on dirt. The speedy son of Exclusive Quality won two of his first three tries, including a statebred maiden race when launching his career here last winter. He has been overmatched in both starts during the current session, finishing a tiring fifth in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector before showing big improvement when third behind Discreet Dancer in a graded stakes-quality field Feb. 6.

“We want to find out if he likes the grass,” said Jay Stone, stable agent for owner Frank Calabrese, when asked about the switch to turf. “The sire has dropped grass horses, and we figure if he likes the grass, it opens up another vista for the horse. He worked well on the turf. Five furlongs should be perfect for him, and if the race ever came off the grass, we would likely be a heavy favorite.”

Dreaming of Neno has worked once on the turf, finishing strong down the stretch to complete five furlongs in 58.41 seconds over a firm course Feb. 24.

Joe Rocco Jr., who rode four winners on Sunday’s card including a pair for Calabrese and trainer Luis Ramirez, will again have the call.

Dreaming of Neno has not caught an easy spot for his turf bow, with the competition to include the equally swift Determinato, who has posted gate-to-wire victories under similar conditions in each of his last two starts. Trained by Bill White for owner Ron Marano, Determinato remains eligible for the condition by racing under a $62,500 claiming tag Wednesday.

Fast Time will try to turn the tables on Determinato after chasing that nemesis home in both previous starts here this winter. Fast Time finished fifth after an unlucky beginning in the pair’s first encounter Jan. 3, but got better early position and checked home an improved second when the pair squared off again three weeks later.

Big Notion and Mel Beach finished third and fourth behind Determinato on Jan. 25, the latter faltering late in his first start since defeating optional claiming foes at Monmouth four months earlier.

Indirectly A.P., who was awarded a victory via a stewards’s disqualification going five-eighths on the grass against lesser opposition in his last start, and longshot Feels Like Flying complete the field.