Updated on 09/17/2011 11:21PM

Harlington earns spot in Gulf 'Cap

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTOS
Harlington wins his second race in a row to raise his record to 4 for 5.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Harlington, a Kentucky Derby prospect until being sidelined by an ankle injury last winter, continued his comeback with a victory in Wednesday's $37,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

The win was the second in a row for Harlington since he returned to action in early December, his fourth victory in five starts overall, and likely earned him a spot in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 4.

"He's still putting it all together, but the further he goes the better he'll be," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Harlington for the Melnyk Racing Stables. "The Gulfstream Park Handicap has been the objective since he got here, and assuming he comes out of this race well, that's where we'll go next."

Pletcher is contemplating sending out both Balto Star and Host in Saturday's Grade 3 . Both horses were assigned high weight of 120 pounds in the Grade 3 race at a mile.

"Host will definitely start," Pletcher said.

Balto Star worked Wednesday morning, and Pletcher intended to wait until just before entry time on Thursday to decide whether to enter a second horse.

"If he doesn't run, then I'll probably just work him a couple of more times and look for an allowance race," Pletcher said of Balto Star.

Balto Star has not started since winning the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup on dirt in October 2004.

A full field is likely for the Appleton. In addition to Pletcher's pair, the probables include L'Oiseau D'Argent (117), Old Forester (116), Drum Major (115), Gulch Approval (115), Old Dodge (115), Silver Wagon (115), Network (114), Saint Stephen (114), Sitcom (114), and one of trainer Allen Jerkens's pair of Ecclesiastic (114) and Kennel Up (114).

Trainer Shug McGaughey said he will enter Happy Hunting in the Appleton for dirt only. Happy Hunting is on a four-race win streak that includes a game victory in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 21.

Gulfstream 'Cap next for Suave

Trainer Paul McGee said Suave came out of last Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap in good order and would likely be pointed for the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Suave finished a tiring sixth under jockey Edgar Prado as the 2-1 favorite in the Donn.

"Edgar said he just never grabbed a hold of the sloppy racetrack," said McGee. "But he came back fine, so we'll just move on and if all goes well probably will try the Gulfstream Park Handicap next month."

Douglas returns to Florida

Jockey Rene Douglas, whose career sputtered during the latter part of 2005 due in part to family concerns, has returned to south Florida and plans to resume riding here within the next couple of weeks.

Douglas, who dominated the rider standings at Arlington Park for several seasons before making a successful switch to the Southern California circuit, spent the past three months in Panama with his critically ill father, until his death earlier this winter.

"My brother died six months ago, so things have been rough for a while and it's had an effect on my riding," Douglas said. "I finally decided to return home and spend what time I had left with my father, because nothing is more important to me than my family."

Douglas said he doesn't feel it should take him too long to get back in shape.

"I worked a few horses before leaving Panama and I've been working horses here since getting back," said Douglas. "My mind is good now and I feel great. I'm going to play things by ear as far as when I'll start back and hooking up with an agent is concerned."

Douglas has ridden successfully in Florida on several occasions during his career. He was the leading jockey at the 1993 Calder meet, won a combined nine stakes during the 1992 and 1993 Calder meetings, and twice won six races on a single card at Calder, turning the trick on Dec. 8, 1993, and again on July 15, 1995.

Blazing Pursuit on a roll

Trainer James Toner is hoping for big things this year from his talented but lightly raced 5-year-old Blazing Pursuit, who returned from a nine-month layoff to register an impressive third-level allowance win here last Sunday. The win was the third in a row for Blazing Pursuit and the fourth time he has crossed the finish line in front dating back to the first week of February 2005.

"He got pneumonia last summer and we just couldn't clear it up," said Toner. "He came back to me in December and was probably only three-quarters fit for this race. He's probably going to need some time between races after this type of performance, but he obviously loves this track, and I'll likely look to start him back here again, maybe in a stakes, at the end of the meet."