01/09/2013 2:10PM

Gulfstream Park: Sprinting on turf may be proper niche for Devil's Cave

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Chad Brown has a barn full of 3-year-old turf prospects heading into the 2013 campaign. One who may be flying a little under the radar is Devil’s Cave, a lightly raced daughter of Put It Back who will seek her second victory of the meet in Friday’s $54,500 feature at Gulfstream Park.

Devil’s Cave finished an even fifth launching her career over the main track at Aqueduct in November. Brown switched Devil’s Cave to the grass for her local bow, and she responded by rallying from just off the pace to a three-quarter-length victory going five furlongs in her juvenile finale.

“She broke her maiden nicely, and this is the next logical spot,” Brown said. “She could turn out to be a nice horse. One turn on turf or synthetics is probably going to be her game. We always thought she had a future, this horse. Hopefully, she’ll take another step on Friday.”

Devil’s Cave should have ample pace to run at in her initial venture against winners in Friday’s first-level optional $75,000 claiming event. The field for the five-furlong turf dash is loaded with front-running types, including The Royal Boot, Phyllis Ann, Rosie Red, Brown Eyed Blue, and Papa’s Forest, all of whom have enough speed to vie for the early lead.

The Royal Boot contested the pace before succumbing grudgingly to finish third, beaten a length, under similar conditions when making her turf debut here Dec. 21. The Royal Boot’s chances may be compromised a bit Friday as she will break from the extreme outside in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

Phyllis Ann, The Royal Boot’s uncoupled mate, also showed big improvement when switched to the turf by trainer Dave Vivian. Phyllis Ann, haltered for $40,000 out of her career debut at Calder in mid-September, relished the surface change, leading throughout to register a one-length maiden win while racing under a $50,000 claiming tag.

Rosie Red will make her third start of the current session. Rosie Red chased The Royal Boot into the stretch before tiring to finish fourth turning back to five furlongs after finishing sixth attempting to stretch her speed a mile on the grass earlier in the meet.

Brown Eyed Blue, who will be trying grass for the first time in her career, led throughout to win her maiden at first asking last summer at Churchill Downs. She has not started since finishing a tiring third under first-level allowance conditions at Churchill on Nov. 24. Brown Eyed Blue is the first foal of a mare, Golden Lips, who was winless in six starts on grass.

Papa’s Forest also will make her grass debut in Friday’s main event. She flashed good speed in each of her first two outings before losing her best chance when breaking awkwardly in her final start at 2. Trainer Michael Pino will add blinkers to Papa’s Forest’s equipment for her local debut.

Heiressofthecrown also should benefit from an honest pace. She rallied to finish second going 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track to close out her 2-year-old campaign, although she, too, is a question mark, having never raced on turf.