02/06/2008 1:00AM

Kettleoneup drills toward Pippin


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kettleoneup, a leading contender for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, is scheduled to make her first start of the year in next week's $50,000 Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park, trainer Michael Tomlinson said. The 1 1/16-mile race is scheduled for Feb. 16.

"That's what the plan is as of right now," Tomlinson said.

Kettleoneup had a major work for the Pippin on Monday, breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.60 under regular rider Calvin Borel. The work was the quickest of 33 at the distance that morning at Oaklawn.

"She worked nicely, galloped out strongly," Tomlinson said. "She galloped out in about 1:13.20."

The Pippin will be Kettleoneup's first start since she captured the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22. She was freshened after that race, and Tomlinson said her goals this meet include the Pippin, the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup on March 9, and the Apple Blossom, which will be run April 5.

"We didn't take her out of training," Tomlinson said of the break between starts. "We just freshened her, light-trained her, and she's responded to that very well. She's doing very good."

Kettleoneup races for Tom Crouch. She is a half-sister to Golden Hare, who won 14 races last year to rank as the winningest horse in North America.

Big Beyer for Semaphore Man

Semaphore Man earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 107 at Oaklawn on Saturday for his dazzling, front-running win in the $50,000 King Cotton. The horse's major goal this meet is the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 10, while his next-race objective is still being determined by Double Bogey Stable and trainer Kelly Von Hemel.

"We've got a few options," Von Hemel said. "We can go to New Orleans in early March, or we can sit here and wait for the Hot Springs and Count Fleet."

The $200,000 Duncan F. Kenner Breeders' Cup at six furlongs will be run at Fair Grounds on March 8. The $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn on March 22 is the final local prep for the Count Fleet. Semaphore Man has registered all six of his career wins at Oaklawn. His previous best Beyer, a 106, was earned at the track for an optional-claiming win in March 2006.

Stakes next for Comic Romeo

Comic Romeo was a good-looking allowance winner here last Sunday, and his next start could come in one of two stakes at Oaklawn, trainer Jorge Lara said. The horse, who earned a career-best Beyer of 86 for the allowance score, races for his breeders, K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.

"I talked to [the owners] after the race and we decided that we're going to nominate him for a couple of stakes coming up, the Mountain Valley and the Southwest," Lara said. "So, we might run in one of those."

The Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at a mile is on Feb. 18. The $50,000 Mountain Valley at six furlongs is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Comic Romeo won at six furlongs Sunday. He was close to a quick pace, then drew clear by 2 3/4 lengths. The win came in his first start since Sept. 1.

"He did it kind of easy," Lara said.

Comic Romeo is a full brother to Comic Truth, who won four stakes, including the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby.

* Isabull, who was the runner-up in the $50,000 Smarty Jones here Jan. 21, is being pointed for the Southwest, trainer Steve Hobby said.