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Lido Palace now unlikely for Donn
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It appears unlikely that Lido Palace will make it to Gulfstream Park to run in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9, trainer Bobby Frankel said Friday.
Frankel said he cannot line up transportation to get his multiple Grade 1 winning colt to south Florida without it "costing me a fortune," he said.
"It doesn't look good," Frankel said from California. "It's too much of an ordeal. There's no way I can get there. I'm pretty much out of it, unless something changes in the next day or two."
Frankel said he may run Lido Palace in the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 3 or wait for the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.
"It isn't meant to be, it isn't meant to be," Frankel said. "I'll just have a fresh horse to run this summer in New York."
The defection of Lido Palace would be good news to trainer Joe Orseno, who will be able to keep Jerry Bailey on Red Bullet.
In other Donn news, Best of the Rest worked a mile in 1:40.80 Friday morning at Calder, a move that really pleased trainer Ed Plesa.
"He worked, time-wise, better than I've had a horse work a mile," Plesa said. "He did it nice, and relatively easy. He went the first half in 50 and three and the second half in 50 and one, finished good and strong and came out of the work good."
Plesa elected to work Best of the Rest a mile because he wants to make sure he is fit to take on Grade 1 competition. Plesa felt Best of the Rest may have been short when he finished fourth as the favorite in the Fred Hooper Handicap on Dec. 29 at Calder.
"The last time I thought I might have been a little soft on him," Plesa said. "Coming into this race, I want to make sure he's right physically, which I think he is, and I don't want to look back and say, you know I could have done a little more to get him fitter."
Others pointing to the Donn include Graeme Hall, Hal's Hope, Kiss a Native, Mongoose, Monarchos, Traditionally, and Ubiquity.
Summer Colony may go in La Canada
Summer Colony may take her five-race winning streak west and run in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 9, trainer Mark Hennig said Friday. Hennig said he nominated Summer Colony to that race on Thursday and believes he has a plane lined up for Feb. 6.
Hennig said the conditions of the La Canada make it more attractive than the Sabin Handicap run here on Feb. 8. Besides, Hennig has Tap Dance to run in the Sabin.
"That's the most attractive part, a mile and an eighth against straight 4-year-old fillies," Hennig said. "She's doing super, seems real happy."
Summer Colony launched her five-race winning streak last summer, winning a maiden race by 32 3/4 lengths last August at Saratoga. After breezing through her conditions, Summer Colony won the Grade 2 Ladies Handicap by a neck last time out at Aqueduct on Dec. 22.
Repent breezes toward return
Repent, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, worked four furlongs in 47.60 seconds on Friday, according to trainer Ken McPeek. Track clockers credited Repent with a five-furlong move in 1:00. Either time would have qualified for a bullet at the distance.
"He's doing well, he got a lot out of it, too," McPeek said. "We gave him an easy half last week and we wanted a stronger half this week. We wanted to go 48 and change, he went 47 and three, so that's a good sign."
Earlier this week, McPeek said he was leaning toward Repent making his 3-year-old debut in the $125,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17.
Gulf 'Cap possible for Band is Passing
Band is Passing was conspicuous by his absence from the Appleton Handicap earlier this month. He won that Grade 2 event in 2000, then finished second, beaten a neck by longshot Associate in the race last winter. Moreover he was coming off an easy win over Crash Course in Calder's Tropical Turf Handicap four weeks before the Appleton.
But his owner, breeder, and trainer, Stanley Ersoff, decided to take the conservative route with Band is Passing, who was given some time off following the Tropical Turf and will now point for either the Gulfstream Park Handicap on Feb. 16 or the Canadian Turf the following week.
"Right now I'm leaning towards the Gulfstream Park Handicap," Ersoff said as he sent Band is Passing out to work five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Friday.
The Gulfstream Park Handicap will be decided at a 1 3/8 miles, and while Band is Passing has never won beyond a 1 1/16 miles, he did finish third in the 11-furlong Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup in 2000. The Gulfstream Park Handicap carries Grade 1 status while the Canadian Turf is a Grade 3 event.
"This was his first work since the Tropical Turf," said Ersoff. "I didn't want to jam him right back in the Appleton. It's a long year, and there's no sense rushing. I might be playing a little catch-up coming into these races but he always fires well fresh."
One of the horses Band is Passing may ultimately have to deal with in the handicap turf division later this season is Dr. Brendler, who posted a victory in Thursday's finale.
Dr. Brendler began his career in Ireland, where he took on some of the top horses on the continent at 3, competing in the Irish Guineas and Irish Derby. He was sent to trainer Graham Motion during the fall and finished a late-running sixth making his United States debut and 2001 finale in Calder's Pete Axthelm Stakes.
Motion dropped Dr. Brendler into a cozy preliminary allowance spot Thursday and was rewarded with a game victory under a patient ride by Rene Douglas.
"I think he might have had a little bleeding problem in Ireland," Motion said. '"He broke terribly in the Axthelm, and they just ran too fast for him after that. He's trained exceptionally well in the morning, and I think he has the ability to be a stakes horse over here. But I'll probably look for another allowance race before trying him with stakes company again."
Walder barn going strong
Trainer Peter Walder is off to another hot start, having posted four wins and two seconds from the seven horses he has started this meet.
Walder's is strictly a claiming operation, with Ima Halo, a winner under a $25,000 price tag on Jan. 11, the best horse in the barn at the moment.
"I've got owners looking to claim but no place to put any more horses," said Walder who has 14 stalls here this winter. "I can't wait until March, when some of the northern guys leave and more stalls open up. Then I'll be able to start claiming again."
Walder also credits having John Velazquez as his main rider for a good deal of his success here the past several winters.
"Having Johnny on my side is a huge plus," said Walder. "A few of these wins might have been seconds or thirds with someone else on their backs."
Walder's high percentage is also owed to his patience with his horses.
"Most of my horses run off layoffs and run hard, so I try to give them 30 to 45 days between starts," said Walder. "Luckily I have owners who don't pressure me to run every two weeks and let me place their horses where I want."
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch