12/20/2008 12:00AM

Jambalaya working toward return


MIAMI - A three-furlong workout in 38 seconds rarely draws attention on any work tab. But it does if the name accompanying that work happens to be Jambalaya.

Jambalaya has not started since winning the 2007 Arlington Million more than 16 months ago. His three-furlong breeze at Gulfstream on Thursday was just his third since returning to training earlier this year and first since shipping to Florida from Woodbine less than a month ago.

Jambalaya, a 6-year-old son of Langfuhr, was discovered to have suffered a deep bone bruise shortly after his three-quarter-length victory over The Tin Man in the Arlington Million according to trainer Catherine Day Phillips.

"He had a little filling after the race. We did a bone scan and saw the area at the base of the cannon bone was damaged," explained Day Phillips. "It took quite some time to heal, almost six months, but it healed up quite nicely. Unfortunately, we suffered a second setback with him this spring when he pulled a gluteal muscle."

Day Phillips had Jambalaya in training all fall at Woodbine and originally brought him to the farm in Ocala, where she spends the winter with the remainder of her stable. But after just a short time on the farm, Day Phillips decided to send Jambalaya to Gulfstream to continue training up to his return.

"He really prefers the dirt over the Polytrack, and that's why I sent him down to Gulfstream with my assistant Candice Bowyer," said Day Phillips. "He's got a good base under him, and originally we were on target for the Fort Lauderdale Handicap on Jan. 10. But given the timing and the shipping from Woodbine, we lost a week or two, so we're kind of backed up. He'll work a half-mile on Wednesday and we'll go from there. He'll tell us when he's ready. Perhaps it will be for a stakes or maybe even an allowance race. He should have plenty of conditions since he hasn't run for so long."

Jambalaya has already proven his fondness for the Gulfstream Park turf course. He won both the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap and Grade 3 Pan American as a prelude to the Arlington Million at Gulfstream during the winter and spring of 2007.

"He certainly earned all the time off, but he enjoys being at the racetrack and being in action," said Day Phillips. "If he's comfortable and happy doing what he's doing, and he's certainly happy right now, we'll carry on. If not we'll bring him back home."

Gulfstream stakes looking solid

Nominations for the first five stakes races on the 2009 Gulfstream stakes schedule hadn't yet closed but the track's first-year racing secretary, Doug Bredar, said the early returns were strong. Especially for the Grade 3 Hal's Hope which serves as the co-feature on opening day, Jan. 3, along with the Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds.

"We should have a full field or at least very close to it for the Hal's Hope," said Bredar. "Especially since this race serves as a prep for both the Sunshine Millions Classic and the Donn Handicap."

The $1 million Classic will be run on Jan. 24 with the Grade 1 Donn to be decided the following week.

Among the early nominees for the one-mile Hal's Hope are Harlem Rocker, who was disqualified from an apparent victory in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in his 2008 finale; the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner, Albertus Maximus; Lieutenant Ron; and the Calder-based handicap star Finallymadeit.

Bredar said he is also expecting the undefeated 2-year-old filly sensation Frolic's Dream to be among the starters in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes on Jan. 4. The Calder-based Frolic's Dream is perfect in three starts and has posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2-year-old filly in 2008, a 105, earned for her 12 3/4-length victory in the Cassidy Stakes on Oct. 18.

Timely purchase for Walder

Sometimes trainers get lucky at scratch time for a race. Sometimes they make their own luck, as trainer Peter Walder did before Friday's eighth race at Calder.

Walder had the best horse in his barn, the 6-year-old Pyramyst, entered in the $12,500 starter allowance race for fillies and mares. It was a spot in which the mare figured to be second choice behind the locally based Successful Sarah, who was coming off a pair of easy and well-graded allowance wins.

But, earlier that day, Walder eliminated Pyramyst's chief threat by completing a deal to purchase Successful Sarah privately for one of his owners. As a result, Successful Sarah was scratched from the Friday race, opening the door for Pyramyst to register her sixth win in nine starts this season and third in as many tries at Calder.

"She's actually not even going to stay here with me," Walder said on Saturday about the recent purchase. "I'm going to send Successful Sarah up to New York for the winter with John Terranova.

Walder purchased Successful Sarah from trainer Herman Wilensky, who claimed the 3-year-old filly for a mere $8,000 for owner Angel Quiroz on Oct. 5.