01/17/2007 12:00AM

Little Genius in perfect spot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It doesn't take a big genius to single out Little Genius as the horse to beat in Friday's $46,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park, a five-furlong entry-level allowance on the turf.

Little Genius is coming off the two best performances of his career, and trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. seems to have found the perfect spot to get his versatile colt back to the winner's circle for the first time since New Year's Day 2006.

Little Genius, a 4-year-old son of Adcat, finished second in each of his first three starts before switching to grass and celebrating his third birthday with a 4 1/2-length maiden win at Calder. Plesa stopped on Little Genius following a seventh-place allowance finish 19 days later, keeping him out of action for 10 months before bringing him back and seeing him pair up career-best Beyer Speed Figures of 84 in his final two starts at 3, both at Calder. Little Genius finished second in an optional-claiming sprint on turf Nov. 23 and fourth at 1 1/16 miles on turf in an allowance race Dec. 13.

"He had a license to get a little tired stretching out around two turns for his last start, but he's had plenty of time since then," said Plesa. "He's doing good, training great, and I anticipate he'll run a big race."

Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard Little Genius for the first time in his 3-year-old finale, will ride him again Friday.

Castle Concert, who finished less than a length behind Little Genius on Nov. 23, may prove the main opposition. Castle Concert is far and away the most experienced and accomplished member of the field going five furlongs on grass, having won twice and finishing on the board in 6 of 7 starts at the distance. He is also the only member of the field with a race over the course, a second here versus mid-priced claimers last spring.

The biggest question mark in the field is Pegase Jem, who has made all 11 of his starts in his native France. Trainer Robert Ribaudo will send out the 4-year-old son of Deputy Commander for his U.S. debut equipped with blinkers and using Lasix for the first time. Still, Pegase Jem appears better suited to longer distances.

Two New York-breds with different running styles are also among the key contenders. Defrizz figures to be on or with the pace; Trick Meeting ran his best race rallying from last to finish second at a mile versus statebreds on the turf last spring at Belmont.