01/04/2008 1:00AM

Host up to win Canadian Turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Host got a terrific trip under John Velazquez and outkicked several other stretch-runners to post a half-length victory Friday in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Velazquez said afterward that he and trainer Tom Albertrani thought a fast pace would unfold in the 1o1/16-mile race, and indeed it did. Kiss the Kid set fractions of 23.39 seconds, 45.78, and 1:09.39, and although he did well to hold on for fourth in a field of 12 turf veterans, the first three finishers were rolling late, with Yate's Black Cat getting second by a neck over National Captain. Thorn Song, the 9-5 favorite, finished fifth.

Host returned $13.80 as fourth choice after finishing in 1:39.95 over a firm turf.

"They were going pretty fast, and I expected them to," Velazquez said. "I told Tommy that if we got the right trip, we should be right there. We got a nice, clean trip, and everything worked out."

Host, an 8-year-old Chilean-bred horse, now has won 10 of 27 starts, with the $60,000 winner's share from the $100,000 purse lifting his career bankroll to $1,136,408. Albertrani got the horse from owner Melnyk Racing Stable in the fall, and has had him for just two races. The biggest career win for Host came in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in October 2005, when he was trained by Todd Pletcher.

Albertrani said a decision on a next race would be made by owner Eugene Melnyk. The next logical race at Gulfstream would be the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on Feb. 23.

Keep the Peace eyes Forward Gal

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said the Feb. 9 Forward Gal Stakes will be the next race for Keep the Peace, a 3-year-old filly who stayed unbeaten in two starts with a seven-length triumph Friday in the fifth race, a six-furlong allowance. Keep the Peace, a New York-bred by Touch Gold, won her career debut in similarly impressive fashion at Churchill Downs in November at 30-1. On Friday, she returned $6 as the favorite.

In the same race, jockey Jose Lezcano was unseated by Ballynoe at the start, but neither he nor the filly were seriously injured.

Lezcano won the following race with Visionaire ($10), a Grand Slam colt who charged up the rail after racing well off a rapid pace en route to a 5 1/2-length victory over nine 3-year-olds competing under a first-level allowance condition. Visionaire, owned by Vision Racing LLC, is trained by Michael Matz. He finished a mile in 1:36.98.

"He still hasn't gone around two turns, but he has a great disposition, and Jose said he thought he would rate and do everything you want," Matz said. "He is a very nice colt."

Matz said the first realistic opportunity to run Visionaire back in a Gulfstream stakes would mean a seven-week layoff toward the Feb. 24 Fountain of Youth, so he was at a loss to predict where or when the colt would run next.

Vision Racing is a syndicate comprised mostly of first-time owners and is managed in part by Brandon Perry of Lexington, Ky.

Curlin on Gulfstream wish list

Gulfstream officials are keeping eyes peeled on the ongoing developments with Curlin and are keeping their fingers crossed that if the colt is going to race at 4, his first start will come in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap here Feb. 2.

Curlin was scheduled to breeze Sunday at Fair Grounds, marking his first work since he won the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Classic. If in fact he makes it to the $500,000 Donn, obviously he would be a huge favorite, regardless of the opposition. Otherwise, the early prospects for the race include Daaher, Brass Hat, and probably one or more horses out of the Hal's Hope here Sunday, including Timber Reserve.

* After six stakes were run during the opening four-day span here, the schedule really lightens up for the next couple of weeks. After Sunday, just two stakes will be run until the Sunshine Millions is held Jan. 26. Those races are the $150,000 Old Hat Stakes next Saturday and the $100,000 The First Lady the following day.