01/09/2009 12:00AM

Kip Deville, Einstein on collision course

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The decision to shorten the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf from 11 to nine furlongs this winter may pay quick dividends with the possibility that the race could attract two of the premier turf horses in training in the U.S., Kip Deville and Einstein.

Trainer Rick Dutrow confirmed on Friday that Kip Deville will make his 2009 debut in the 1 1/8-mile GP Turf. That sets up a possible rematch with two-time defending GP Turf champion Einstein, whom Kip Deville defeated last spring in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile.

Kip Deville had his first local workout Friday, breezing six furlongs in 1:15.80 under jockey Cornelio Velasquez. Kip Deville, an Eclipse Award winner in 2007 and runner-up behind Goldikova this fall in defense of his Breeders' Cup Mile title, looks none the worse for wear after a long trip to Hong Kong, where he finished ninth just four weeks ago in the Hong Kong Mile.

"He's doing good," said Dutrow, relaxing outside his barn shortly after training hours Friday. "Cornelio is very happy with him, so I'm very happy with him. He's ready to roll. We'll run him here in the mile and one-eighth race the first of the month, and that will tell us what will be next. We could either go to Dubai for the mile and one-eighth there" - the Dubai Duty Free - "or head back to Keeneland for the Maker's Mile."

Dutrow has a full barn bedded down at Gulfstream for the first time this winter.

"I love being stabled right at Gulfstream," said Dutrow. "The track is good to train and breeze on, and I like it better than Palm Meadows because now I don't have to ship the horses to run."

Among the promising horses that Dutrow is eager to showcase this winter are Precious Package and Maimonides.

Precious Package, a 3-year-old son of Golden Missile, has not started since earning a 91 Beyer winning his maiden by 6 3/4 lengths this summer at Saratoga. Maimonides was all the buzz after winning his maiden by 11 1/2 lengths and finishing third in the Grade 1 Hopeful at 2, but he missed his entire 3-year-old campaign last year. He was transferred to Dutrow's barn late last season.

"Precious Package put on a show at Saratoga, but we couldn't make the Hopeful," said Dutrow. "We'll look to bring him back in a one-other-than allowance race when the time is right."

Acai and Gottcha Gold retired

The Sunshine Millions Classic lost a pair of prospective starters with the recent retirements of Acai and Gottcha Gold.

Acai turned in his best performance when second behind Anak Nakal in the 2008 Pennsylvania Derby.

"Acai hurt an ankle in his last race," explained Dutrow.

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said Gottcha Gold, runner-up in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in 2007, retired sound.

"The people at Ocala Stud wanted him up there ASAP to start showcasing him this breeding season, and it just seemed like the right decision to make for all concerned."

Free Country outrunning his origins

Few 3-year-olds being aimed at the 2009 Kentucky Derby have a more curious pedigree than Free Country, winner of a Thursday allowance at Gulfstream. The colt was sired by Big Country, a onetime Overbrook Farm runner who now stands in Trinidad and Tobago.

Emilie Fojan, a Lexington, Ky., trainer and breeder who foaled Free Country, said Big Country, now 9, was sent to the Southern Hemisphere after having limited breeding opportunities as a young, unknown stallion. Fojan estimated that Big Country, by Seattle Slew out of Flanders, had about 70 live foals from his first two crops, the first of which are now 3.

Free Country stayed unbeaten in two starts when capturing a 1 1/8-mile allowance Thursday, earning an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Free Country is owned by the Silver Wing Stable.

Free Country is trained by Ken McPeek, who also won the second half of the split 1 1/8-mile allowance when Danger to Society drove clear, also remaining unbeaten and earning an 86 Beyer. McPeek said he is targeting the Jan. 31 Holy Bull Stakes for both colts.

Free Country is one of the final legacies of his co-breeder, George Brunacini, a central Kentucky horseman who was among the 49 people killed in the Comair 191 crash in Lexington on Aug. 27, 2006.

Albertus Maximus works for Donn

Albertus Maximus, winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in his last start, continues to progress toward the Jan. 31 Donn Handicap after working a half-mile in 47.40 seconds earlier this week at the Palm Meadows training center.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he hopes to use the Donn as a prep for the Dubai World Cup for Albertus Maximus, who was purchased by Shadwell Stable shortly after the Breeders' Cup. McLaughlin said the 5-year-old horse will remain in his stable regardless of what transpires in regard to Dubai.

As for other news from the McLaughlin barn, A.P. Cardinal, who earned an 80 Beyer when second to Danger to Society on Thursday, "gave a really good effort" in his first race under McLaughlin's care and will be pointed for another entry-level allowance. Also, Seventh Street, a runaway winner Thursday in an Aqueduct allowance, "is Florida quality and might end up coming down here, but she's been doing so well up in New York that we thought it best to just keep her there for now," he said.

Kelly's Landing, 8, ready to roll

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said 8-year-old Kelly's Landing is on target for the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap here next Saturday after breezing five furlongs Thursday in a minute flat at Palm Meadows.

Kelly's Landing, winner of the 2007 Dubai Golden Shaheen and a career earner of more than $1.85 million, finished last of seven in his most recent start, a Nov. 22 overnight stakes at Churchill.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee