02/18/2010 1:00AM

Gulfstream roundup

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WHO'S HOT

Rajiv Maragh

A regular here for the first time this winter, Maragh has made the most of the opportunity, winning eight more races last week and doing so in bunches, posting a riding double Thursday and hat tricks on Sunday and Monday's Presidents Day cards. His most important victory of the week came Sunday aboard Qualia, trainer Bobby Ribaudo's exciting filly prospect, in a second-level allowance race.

Angel Penna Jr.

He doesn't start many horses, but when he does, he has been deadly. Penna capped the week with turf winners Starsilhouette on Sunday and hard-knocking veteran Baletti the following afternoon. Both horses were fit and ready to win off layoffs: Starsilhouette was away four months, and Baletti was making his first start since June. Overall, Penna posted five victories and two seconds from his first dozen starters at the meet.

Talented Princess

The old bay mare just keeps getting better, beating up on $32,000 open claimers last week for her sixth straight victory since July 11. Now 7, Talented Princess has won on turf and dirt and at distances ranging from one mile to 1 1/2 miles during her streak. She has been trained throughout the streak by Peter Walder for the partnership of the High Grade Racing Stable and Aventura Stable.

TRACK TRENDS

Tactical speed. Those are the key words for horses racing on the main track here this winter. The trend continued last week with outside-running stalkers having the most success. The lone exceptions came Feb. 12, when a brisk tailwind down the backstretch helped horses on or with the pace win four of the afternoon's five races on the dirt, and Sunday, when front-runners held the edge once again.

The experiment of using two grass courses, an inner and an outer, was put on hold the first half of the month; the rail was set at 60 feet during the first week of February and at 48 feet last week. During that period, front-runners struggled badly. Of the 17 races decided last week - there was no turf racing Saturday and just one race Sunday - only one horse, the 50-1 Anarko, won after leading at every call.

A breakdown of the track bias last week:

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Strong headwind down the backstretch. Two front-running winners on the card, but three outside closers also prevailed over the main track, including the 60-1 Master Tricky. All four turf races were won from off the pace.

Thursday, Feb. 11: Moderate headwind down the backstretch. The opener, a bottom-level maiden claimer, had a wire-to-wire winner, but outside-rallying closers won the next four over the main track.

Friday, Feb. 12: Strong tailwind down the backstretch. With the wind at their backs early, speed horses fared well, accounting for all but the eighth race, taken by 22-1 outsider Republican, who came from midpack and won despite being hung wide throughout.

Saturday, Feb. 13: Strong headwind down the backstretch. A mixed bag over a drying-out racetrack, with four wire-to-wire winners to go along with Munnings's pace-stalking triumph in the and five off-the-pace winners on the card.

Sunday, Feb. 14: Mild headwind down the backstretch. It was a good day for speed, with four front-running and two pace-stalking winners over the main track. The most notable exception to that trend was first-time starter Much Rejoicing, who rallied four wide from off the pace to register an impressive debut victory.

Monday, Feb. 15: A variable wind. The racetrack played relatively even to close the long and busy week, although maiden-claiming winner U.K. Girl was the only wire-to-wire winner in five main-track events.

LONGSHOT PARADE

Master Tricky's $125 payoff winning the second race on Wednesday was a harbinger of things to come over the next couple of days. The following afternoon, it was Put That Away who sent the chalkplayers reeling when he returned $161 after outkicking a stunned group of bottom-level conditioned claimers to the wire.

But that was nothing compared to what happened Friday, when four horses paid at least $46 to win on the nine-race card, topped by Anarko's 50-1 stunner in the nightcap. Earlier in the day, Be Welcome led a parade of longshots across the wire in the sixth race; the 25-1 winner was followed by the 16-1 Destriero and 80-1 Mandate to Win, with the trio combining for a $1 trifecta return of more than $11,000.

PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK

Warrior's Reward made a triumphant return to one of his favorite courses, overcoming a wide trip to beat a solid field of second-level allowance horses going seven furlongs in Thursday's headliner. Royal Vindication was a game second in his first start since the summer.

Pinkarella restored a bit of normalcy during Friday's parade of longshots, winning a six-furlong allowance dash in her dirt debut. A West Coast invader who was scratched from last Saturday's Hurricane Bertie Stakes for this softer spot, Pinkarella rallied to an easy win despite lugging in and racing on her left lead throughout the stretch.

WORKOUT REPORT

The Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth mark the returns of some prominent 2-year-olds from last season who have been preparing for their 3-year-old debuts at Gulfstream Park.

First, a look at a very interesting maiden race, the sixth on the card, which features several locally based 3-year-olds.

Farmer Jones: Has turned in several solid workouts, including a Jan. 17 five-furlong gate drill in which he went five-eighths in 59.22 under no pressure, albeit with the aid of a brisk tailwind down the backstretch. He was less impressive in his final work from the gate here Sunday, when he breezed a half in 48.86 against the wind.

Scary Good/Miners Reserve: This Zito team looked very sharp going a half-mile in company in 47.60 and 47.80 last Friday. Both shaded 35 for the final three-eighths.

Bushwhacked: May have been best in his debut, in which he fell just short of catching the leaders after falling near the rear of pack, swinging five wide with his belated rally. He bounced back with a sizzling 46.68 half-mile drill Monday.

HUTCHESON

Radiohead: His last work since joining the Dutrow barn was his best - five-eighths in 59.76 seconds in company with the older Precious Package. He was not asked to run by exercise rider Michelle Nevin throughout the drill.

D' Funnybone: If he gets beaten, it won't be for lack of conditioning. The two-time Grade 2 winner has logged plenty of miles in the morning in preparation for his return. He worked six furlongs three times - in 1:14.04, 1:13.11, and 1:12.57 - within a 12-day span this month, showing progress with each work. He galloped out in 1:26.40 for seven-eighths Feb. 4 and Feb. 10, with Edgar Prado aboard for all three of those drills.

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

Buddy's Saint: He has not missed a beat in the morning for the last six weeks. He has never really been set down too hard in any of his works, the best of which may have been an easy 59.54 five-eighths move Jan. 24 (tailwind-aided) and his 1:12.68 six-furlong run Feb. 7. He had to wind his way through some traffic down the stretch while going an easy three-quarters in 1:13.66 last Sunday. He's ready but perhaps not ready for his absolute best.

Pulsion: He's another who has worked regularly this winter. He shaded 1:00 in his final prep Tuesday but went fast early into a stiff headwind, changed leads late, and was tiring at the wire. Like Buddy's Saint, he may be at least a race away from his best.

HORSES TO WATCH

Kerouac

Trainer: Nick Zito

Last race: Feb. 14, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by 1/2

May have been best, considering the trip he had when stretching out around two turns and going nine furlongs for the first time in his brief career. He made a couple of runs after getting stuffed trying to rush up inside the leaders with a premature bid down the backstretch. He made the lead from along the rail turning for home before succumbing to the even-money favorite in the closing strides of a competitive maiden special weight race.

Much Rejoicing

Trainer: James Toner

Last race: Feb. 13, 7th

Finish: 1st by 3/4

Nicely bred daughter of Distorted Humor was impressive winning at first asking, rallying four wide before outgaming odds-on favorite Bialy. A daughter of Eclipse Award-winning grass mare Soaring Softly, she should handle more distance and even turf.

Motovato

Trainer: Marty Wolfson

Last race: Feb. 12, 9th

Finish: 3rd by 1

The veteran might have given heavy favorite Munnings a run for his money in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship if he hadn't broken in the air, leaving the gate five lengths behind the field, and lost a ton of ground turning for home. He finished willingly and looks like he's at his best at seven furlongs.

Chairman Tucker

Trainer: James DeVito

Last race: Feb. 10, 1st

Finish: 2nd by a neck

Lightly raced 3-year-old just missed in a successful return from a seven-month layoff, narrowly losing to the odds-on favorite in a race he could have won with a cleaner trip. Should earn diploma next time if kept against mid-priced maiden claimers.