02/05/2010 1:00AM

McLaughlin mulls his options for Elusive Warning


Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Elusive Warning, an allowance winner here last weekend, could make his next start in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap here on March 13 or the seven-furlong Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 3. McLaughlin is looking at the same two races for Grasshopper, who won an allowance race here Wednesday.

McLaughlin also said he had to "back off a little" in his training of Mambo in Seattle, who like Grasshopper was transferred to his barn by owner William Farish during the second half of 2009.

Mambo in Seattle, who lost the closest of decisions to Colonel John in the 2008 Travers, has not started since finishing second in an allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 24.

Dutrow comebackers doing fine

Trainer Rick Dutrow confirmed that two of his top performers, Arson Squad and Diamond Stripes, came back fine after finishing third and fourth behind Grasshopper while returning from layoffs Wednesday.

Arson Squad, making his first start since the Grade 1 Stephen Foster in June, was beaten slightly more than a length. Diamond Stripes stumbled leaving the gate, recovered to a striking position, then faltered down the stretch in his first appearance since winning the Godolphin Mile nearly two years ago.

"I was very happy with Arson Squad and I knew Diamond Stripes would probably need a race," Dutrow said. "He'd been away so long, although it didn't help that he stumbled coming out of there. The good thing is that they both came out of it well and I was able to get a race into both of them."

Dutrow said the Gulfstream Park Handicap could be an option for them.

Dutrow said he's also pleased with the way D' Funnybone is progressing towards his 3-year-old debut, scheduled for the seven-furlong Hutcheson here on Feb. 20. D' Funnybone worked six furlongs in 1:13.11 on Wednesday before galloping out seven-eighths in 1:26.47 with jockey Edgar Prado aboard.

"Edgar is very happy with him and so am I," said Dutrow. "We're right on target for the Hutcheson."

Lopez heating up

January was a month jockey Paco Lopez would just as soon forget. Lopez, the 2008 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top apprentice, got February off to a fast start by riding three winners on Thursday's card and another Friday.

Lopez, who had only three winners during the entire month of January while frustrated with a slew of seconds, won the second race Thursday with Hudson Township, the fifth on Upfrontn'dangerous, and the nightcap aboard Targe, then came right back to capture Friday's fourth with Pleasant Ballerina.

Busy at the claim box

Four of the dozen starters in Friday's opener, a bottom-level maiden claiming event for 3-year-olds, were claimed.

They were: Prontissimo, the 20-1 winner for Todd Pletcher, who went to Terri Pompay and the Nick of Time Stable; Cuvee's Caress, the 3-5 favorite who finished fourth and went to Eddie Kenneally for Team Victory; Afterme, a $220,000 yearling yearling purchase, who was taken by John Tebbutt for My Purple Haze Stable; and Waterford Bay, Prontissimo's uncoupled stablemate, who went to Nick Sanna Stables and trainer Mario Pino.