07/09/2009 11:00PM

Haskell possible for Munnings

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Barbara D. Livingston
Munnings has developed into one of the top sprinters in the country, but his next start could come around two turns in the $1 million Haskell on Aug. 2.

ELMONT, N.Y. - While trainers with designs on running in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park await word on whether they will have to contend with the superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, there is another 3-year-old potentially headed that way they probably don't want to face either.

Munnings, coming off dominant victories in the Woody Stephens and Tom Fool handicaps, is under strong consideration for the Aug. 2 Haskell, trainer Todd Pletcher said Friday. Initially, Pletcher was going to wait for the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga at the same seven-furlong distance at which Munnings has proven exceptional. The King's Bishop is run Aug. 29.

"It's just going to depend on how he trains here the next couple of weeks, but at this point I'd say we're certainly under strong consideration for that race," Pletcher said. "The horse is in such good form right now it might be worth taking a shot. I don't know that it necessarily gets in the way of the King's Bishop, either."

The Haskell is run at 1 1/8 miles around two turns. The only time Munnings has raced around two turns was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he finished 10th, beaten only 4 3/4 lengths over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.

"He wasn't beaten far, but neither was anybody else," Pletcher said. "I don't think he ran his race on it. It was a strange race. Speed was no good all day and in that race it held up.

"He ran a good race in the Champagne at a mile, so I don't think the distance is out of the question, and Monmouth would be the right kind of track to try it on, so it's a possibility at this point."

Pletcher said whatever the connections of Rachel Alexandra decide to do "will not have any bearing on what we do."

Light Green likely out for the year

Pletcher said that Light Green, who finished second to stablemate Cat Moves in the Grade 1 Prioress on July 4, is likely done for the year due to an ankle injury.

Pletcher said that Light Green was sent to owner Ed Evans's Spring Hill Farm near Casanova, Va., for a vacation.

"She'll likely get 60 days off," Pletcher said. "If things go well, we'll probably bring her back for the fall of the year and get started at Gulfstream."

Light Green, a daughter of Pleasantly Perfect, has won 3 of 7 starts, including the Fall Aspen Stakes by eight lengths on May 15 in which she ran six furlongs in 1:08.32 and earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure.

Diamondrella won't stretch out in Diana

Trainer Angel Penna Jr. may eventually decide to try Diamondrella at 1 1/8 miles, but it won't be in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.

Penna said the Diana would be too difficult a race in which to experiment at a new distance with Diamondrella, who has won six consecutive races. Her victory in last month's Grade 1 Just a Game at one mile was the farthest distance at which she has won. Penna said the Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile race at Saratoga on Aug. 29, may be the better way to experiment in stretching his filly out.

"This is a difficult one and a half months," Penna said. "There's nothing around that suits her, unless we go back to five-eighths, which I'm not going to do. The Ballston Spa should be easier than the Diana and is a sixteenth of a mile shorter. If I'm going to stretch her out, I want to do it in the most suave way possible."

Penna has recently taken over the training of Elusive Heat, a daughter of Elusive Quality out of the mare Xtra Heat, from trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who had a falling out with owner Martin Schwartz. Elusive Heat has won 2 of 3 starts and was beaten a nose in the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream in January. She has not run since winning a first-level allowance by 13 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. Penna hopes to get her to the Grade 1 Test on Aug. 8 if possible.

Belmont Stakes winner Da' Tara returns

Da' Tara is still seeking his first win since pulling off his stunning, front-running upset in last year's Belmont Stakes at 38-1 under Alan Garcia. Sunday, he'll try to get it when he runs in a second-level allowance race going a mile.

Da' Tara has lost six straight races since the Belmont, including two second-place finishes in allowance races at Gulfstream earlier this year. Following a neck loss to Dream Maestro on April 1, Da' Tara needed time off due to a popped splint bone that needed to be pinfired.

He has been working steadily and sharply at Saratoga this spring and early summer, and trainer Nick Zito is hopeful for a return to the winner's circle Sunday.

"He's been working very well, we're reuniting him with Alan," Zito said Friday from Saratoga. "He had two races this year, and they both were good. He'll hopefully put together another one and he'll be on his way. I still think he can have a pretty good year."

Da' Tara is one of three sons of Tiznow in the race, and all are in with a chance. Tizbig finished second in the Grade 3 Skip Away two starts back before finishing third in a third-level allowance on July 3. Tizway has two wins and a second in his last three outs.

Gayego gets back to work

The multiple graded stakes winner Gayego worked three furlongs in 37.24 seconds Friday, his first breeze since returning to North America after a winter campaign in Dubai.

Gayego, who won the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby at 3, was purchased privately by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum's Godolphin Stable earlier in the year. Gayego ran twice in Dubai, winning the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaan on March 5 before finishing second to stablemate Two Step Salsa in the Godolphin Mile on March 28.

"We thought he'd come back and make the Tom Fool, it just took him a while when we got him back from Dubai," said Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer who oversees Godolphin's New York string. "He's got dirt form, he's got Poly form, he can do a little bit of everything."

Mettee said Godolphin has no set plans for Gayego's return to the races.

Also working for Godolphin on Friday were Music Note and Sara Louise. Music Note went three furlongs in 36.24 seconds in her first move since she finished fifth in the Ogden Phipps. Sara Louise, the last horse to beat Rachel Alexandra, worked three furlongs in 39.24 seconds. It was her first work since returning to North America after being purchased by Godolphin and wintering in Dubai.

Mettee said plans were uncertain for both of those fillies.