10/07/2010 3:39PM

I'm Steppin’ It Up back on dirt in Dover


Trainer Anthony Pecoraro keeps trying to run I’m Steppin’ It Up on turf. But since the best race of the 2-year-old colt’s brief career came going two turns on the main track, Pecoraro is giving in to what I’m Steppin’ It Up seems to do best by entering him in the $75,000 Dover Stakes at Delaware Park.

I’m Steppin’ It Up is among four runners in the field of nine 2-year-olds with a win at a mile or longer, and his 74 Beyer Speed Figure for his 10 1/4-length romp against maidens on Aug. 16 at Delaware is the best among that group.

Three of I’m Steppin’ It Up’s four races were scheduled for turf, but the day of his maiden victory Delaware Park’s grass races were shifted to the main track. In his lone try against winners, I’m Steppin’ It Up was involved in a duel up front and ended up third in a four-horse field going a mile on turf.

I'm Steppin' It Up is cross-entered in Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Chipshot owns the best last-race Beyer – an 86 – and has kept the classiest company after picking up small pieces of the purse in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth. He is untested, however, going beyond six furlongs and his trainer, Steve Asmsusen, is 0 for 3 with 2-year-olds making their first route attempt in a non-graded stakes, according to DRF’s Formulator.

Congo, second by a head in the Mountaineer Juvenile for trainer Todd Pletcher, also is being asked to race beyond six furlongs for the first time. Pletcher is 0 for 5 with 2-year-olds making their first start in a route following a break of 61 to 180 days.

Star Zapper returns to his home track, where he won two of his first three starts, after finishing a distant third as the even-money favorite trying two turns for the first time in the seven-furlong Charles Town Juvenile.

Go Maire Tu, who ran against maiden claiming company in the first starts of his career, blossomed when stretched out around two turns on Charles Town’s bullring and romped by seven, earning a 79 Beyer, going 6 1/2 furlongs a month ago.

Commander and Rush Now, an uncoupled entry for high-percentage trainer Tony Dutrow, along with Tazered, a seven-furlong winner in an off-the-turf maiden race at Belmont on Sept. 29, all move directly to stakes company while facing winners for the first time.


Although Tazered is coming back quickly, trainer Gary Contessa followed a similar pattern to win last year's Dover. Citrus Kid  returned on 14 days' rest following his maiden victory to cruise to a five-length win in the Dover.  So Contessa is hoping Tazered can do something similar.

 “He won impressively, so we decided to enter him in the Dover,” Contessasaid .  “Hopefully, lightning will strike twice and we can win it like we did with Citrus Kid last year.”


Dutrow has Commander, who won his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths at Delaware going a mile and 70 yards in his career debut, and Rush Now, who romped by by 13 3/4 lengths at Delaware going a route ground for the first time in his second career outing on Sept. 1. 


“We are pretty excited about both horses,” Dutrow said. “Both broke their maidens impressively, so we are pretty excited to see what happens this Saturday.  Commander won nicely going a route in his first start and Rush Now, being a son of Tiznow, really blossomed going two turns for the first time.”


In the 70-year history of the Dover, four horses who either won or finished second went on to win the Kentucky Derby the following year, but none since Spectacular Bid, the Dover runner-up in 1978.