02/06/2009 12:00AM

Ikigai eyes Richter Scale

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Tale of Ekati is the marquee name pointing for next Saturday's Grade 2 Richter Scale Handicap here. But the two-time Grade 1 winner could have his hands full in his 2009 debut with Ikigai, runaway winner of the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap earlier in the Gulfstream Park meet.

Trainer Marty Wolfson confirmed that Ikigai would return in the seven-furlong Richter Scale shortly after the horse breezed a half-mile in 49.80 seconds over his home base at Calder on Friday morning.

"He's just doing so well right now it's hard not to run him in the Richter Scale," said Wolfson, who trains Ikigai for owner Edmund Gann.

Ikigai, a son of Whywhywhy, has won five of his last six starts, with all the wins coming at five to six furlongs. His lone defeat in that stretch came in the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love Stakes in November, when his chances were compromised by a poor start.

"I really discount that race because of the start," said Wolfson. "He's very fast, but lately he's shown the ability to rate. He wasn't in front the whole way in the Mr. Prospector. We should have an advantage over Tale of Ekati because he hasn't run in a while and we've got a race over the track. The only thing that worries me is if a fast horse like Talent Search were to also go in this race and really create too fast a pace scenario."

Wolfson said he has been contacted by representatives from Dubai about the possibility that both Ikigai and stablemate It's a Bird, upset winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic, could be invited to compete on the World Cup card.

"We haven't heard anything definitive yet," said Wolfson, who also reported he is pointing It's a Bird for the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds on March 14.

Tale of Ekati schooled in the paddock prior to Friday's first race and is scheduled to have his final prep for the Richter Scale on Sunday, according to assistant trainer Robin Smullen.

'Edison' still targets Fountain

It has been one week since Break Water Edison's sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes and trainer John Kimmel is still hard pressed to find a reason for the dull performance.

"He came out of the race in perfect order," said Kimmel. "He wasn't even tired when he got back to the barn. I can't find anything physically wrong to explain the effort so the only thing I can think of was that he just didn't handle the racetrack. When a cold front moves in and the winds get blowing the way they were, the track dries out and slows down. They ran that race in almost 1:24 and those horses should be going in 1:22 and change."

Kimmel said he is going to just throw the Hutcheson out and stick to his original plan to bring Break Water Edison back in the one-mile Fountain of Youth on Feb. 28.

"There should be plenty of speed in the Fountain of Youth," said Kimmel. "And maybe we'll be able to draw an outside post for a change."

Wolfson's appeal yet to be heard

Trainer Milt Wolfson will try to add to Annabill's impressive resume when she competes in Sunday's $75,000 Marion County Stakes on the turf. He has also been fighting a different battle with the state of Florida for the past several months in an effort collect one more victory for the mare.

Wolfson appealed Annabill's second-place finish in Calder's Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap on Nov. 8 to the Florida Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, but the case has yet to be heard. Wolfson contends Annabill was impeded by the winner, Amazing, when she ducked in and then back out again while clinging to a narrow advantage in deep stretch. Amazing held on to post a nose decision over Annabill in the $200,000 statebred race.

"The case is still ongoing," said Wolfson, whose N.T.S. Stable owns Annabill. "No date has been set for a hearing. I know I'm fighting an uphill battle. To show you what I'm dealing with, the lawyer representing the division told me even if I win the case I'll get credit for the victory but not get any money. Turns out, I guess, he thought the rule regarding the parimutuel betting also applied to the purse."

Wolfson said he's not even sure who would decide his appeal.

"It might go back to the stewards or to track officials," said Wolfson. "The Florida HBPA is trying to organize a committee that would consist of three former stewards to hear these types of issues, but they're still talking about it and that could take months."