02/10/2009 1:00AM

Kick On, Lukas pair eye Southwest


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kick On has been committed to the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest after a powerful six-furlong work at Oaklawn Park over the weekend, while trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he is considering two horses for the Monday race, Flying Private and Buzzin and Dreamin.

The Southwest, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds, is the first of two major preps for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby. Old Fashioned, who galloped at Oaklawn on Tuesday, is expected to start as the favorite over Silver City, who is due in later this week from Fair Grounds.

Kick On was one of the region's most accomplished 2-year-olds last year, winning the $125,000 MEC Mile at Remington Park in October, and the $150,000 Jean Lafitte at 1o1/16 miles at Delta Downs in November. He has not raced since finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot on Dec. 5, but gave his trainer, Joe Petalino, a good line on his fitness as well as his ability to handle Oaklawn when he drilled six furlongs in 1:12.40 last Saturday.

Under jockey Bryan McNeil, Kick On got his opening quarter in 23.20 seconds, the half-mile in 47.60, five furlongs in 1:00, and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.60.

"It looked like he did it pretty easily," Petalino said. "If a horse works that good over that track, they like it. We want to give the race a try."

Petalino, who won the Oaklawn title in 2000, said the horse, who shipped in from Lone Star Park specifically to work at Oaklawn, will return to Hot Springs later this week.

Lukas on Monday was debating possible Southwest starts for Flying Private, a front-runner who after being left at the start closed from more than 10 lengths back for second in a first-level allowance Jan. 31, and Buzzin and Dreamin, a sharp maiden special weight winner here Jan. 19.

"Buzzin and Dreamin beat a nice colt in [Wise Kid]," Lukas said, "so he might be coming around, but I don't know if he's ready to play in Division 1 yet or not."

Buzzin and Dreamin earned a Beyer of 75 for his maiden win, which came at 1 1/16 miles, and was flattered last week when Wise Kid won his maiden with a Beyer of 76.

Another new face looking at the Southwest is Stormintothefront, who was a 7 3/4-length maiden special weight winner at Retama on Feb. 6.

"It's a possibility," said trainer Cliff Dodson.

Dodson said owner Patrick Boylan has indicated he would be more inclined to run if there were an eight-horse field for the Southwest rather than 10 or 11. Stormintothefront is based at a training center in Athens, Texas, which is about a 4 1/2-hour drive from Oaklawn, said Dodson.

Trainer David Vance called Silver Bayer "50-50" for the Southwest on Tuesday after the horse worked five furlongs in 1:03 at Oaklawn.

"I would have liked to see him go a little quicker today," Vance said.

He said another option could be the $100,000 Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park on Feb. 28.

Other Southwest probables are Flat Out, Gresham, Loch Dubh, and Poltergeist. Sangre Frio and Messy Marvin are possible.

'Rachel' tops Martha Washington

Rachel Alexandra, the winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod, remains on schedule for the $50,000 Martha Washington for 3-year-old fillies here Sunday, said her trainer, Hal Wiggins.

Lukas said he plans to start Be Fair, an impressive debut winner at Oaklawn, in the one-mile race. She is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Macho Again.

Native Ruler eyes Duncan Kenner

Native Ruler, who earned a Beyer Figure of 104 for his win in the $50,000 King Cotton at Oaklawn on Jan. 31, is scheduled to make his next start in the $125,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 14, said his owner, Maggi Moss.

Native Ruler was impressive in the King Cotton. He dueled from the inside for much of the six-furlong race, going at it with defending champ Semaphore Man through quick fractions, then going on to cover the distance in 1:09.66.

"You gotta love him," Moss said of Native Ruler. "When they came down the stretch you couldn't even see him because Semaphore Man is twice as big as he is. He's one of my favorites."

Moss claimed Native Ruler for $25,000 in December 2007, and he has since won three stakes for her and trainer Chris Richard. Moss is the current leading owner at Oaklawn.

* The rash of disqualifications here last Thursday has led to the suspensions of four jockeys: Eddie Perez, Jose Riquelme, Joe Johnson, and Cliff Berry. Most will serve through Saturday, with Johnson and Berry out through Sunday. Also on the sidelines, for a riding infraction last Friday, is Deshawn Parker. He will be back up on Sunday.

* Clever Allemont, the Southwest and Rebel winner in 1985, has been retired to Old Friends, a Thoroughbred sanctuary in Lexington, Ky., said Alex Brown, an exercise rider at Oaklawn involved in horse welfare issues. Clever Allemont, a 27-year-old who long ago wrapped up a racing and breeding career, recently turned up at auction in Kansas, and was rescued and sent to Old Friends.