02/03/2012 5:25PM

Gulfstream Park: Street Game starts season in turf allowance

Barbara D. Livingston
Street Game will make his first start since the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes in an allowance race Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After Flying Zee Stable’s Carl Lizza passed away last summer, his wife Viane decided to stay in racing but on a scaled down basis, hand-picking the horses to carry on the stable name. Among that group was Street Game, a Grade 3 winner who launches his 2012 campaign under allowance conditions in Sunday’s $56,500 main event at Gulfstream Park.

Street Game has not started since finishing seventh in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Hall of Fame on Aug. 12. A New York-bred son of Street Cry, Street Game ran off three consecutive victories earlier at 3 that included an easy 7 1/4-length decision in Belmont’s Grade 3 Hill Prince for which he earned a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

Street Game has been prepared for his return at Palm Meadows by trainer Phil Serpe who is looking forward to getting his talented turf specialist back in action following a six-month layoff.

“It seemed like a lot of the horses who came out of the Virginia Derby went backwards after the race, and so did ours,” Serpe said. “It might have been pressing him a little going into the Hall of Fame, and after he ran so poorly, we just decided to give him some time off and let him get himself back together for his 4-year-old season.”

Street Game capped a series of works at Palm Meadows by zipping five furlongs in 58.60 seconds over the turf course Jan. 28.

“He worked great the other day,” Serpe said. “He went 58 and change and pulled up three-quarters in 1:11 and 2 or 3. He looks good and is a much bigger, much more filled-out horse than he was at 3. He’s ready, and if the course comes up a little on the soft side because of the rain we’ve had, he won’t mind it, while it might hurt some of the others in this field.”

Like Street Game, Hailstone also has had plenty of experience against graded stakes competition, but he, too, will be returning from a lengthy freshening. Hailstone has changed hands since closing his 2011 campaign by finishing fifth in Woodbine’s Grade 1 Northern Dancer, having been purchased by Marc Keller at the Keeneland November sale and turned over to Keller’s regular trainer, Bob Ribaudo.

“We like grass horses that run long, and those races he ran in Canada last year looked pretty good, which is why we bought him,” Ribaudo said. “The goal on Sunday is to get him started and learn as much as we can with him. He hasn’t raced since September, but he’s fit and this race will give us an indication of what direction we’re headed with him down the road.”

Despite the presence of the graded stakes-caliber Street Game and Hailstone, the horse to beat in Sunday’s one-mile headliner is the South African-bred Mahubo who was beaten a neck, despite a wide trip, under similar conditions when making his local debut Dec. 16. Mahubo does his best running from off the pace, a style that should serve him well, considering all the speed signed on for this race.