Updated on 09/15/2011 1:35PM

Monarchos begins to get serious


MIAMI - Kentucky Derby winner * got to really stretch his legs for the first time since returning to south Florida two weeks ago, working a half mile in 46.60 seconds at Gulfstream Park on Sunday morning.

"He was a little anxious the first part but then settled down nicely and galloped out quietly," said trainer John Ward who timed the work in 47 and change while watching alongside Monarchos's regular rider, Jorge Chavez. "I'm happy with the way he went. He obviously hasn't forgotten how to run. And I'm also very pleased with the racetrack. It is very consistent."

Monarchos has not started since finishing third behind Point Given in the Belmont Stakes, after which it was discovered he was suffering from a slight crack in the carpal bone of his right knee. The injury can be compared to a stress fracture in a human athlete and Ward believes it might have been bothering his colt since the Derby.

"He always had tremendous acceleration when on his right lead," said Ward. "But looking back at the Preakness and Belmont you can see he did his best running when on his left lead, which makes me think the injury might have been biting him in those races."

Earlier this fall, Ward returned Monarchos to training in Kentucky, where he had two half-mile works before shipping to Gulfstream to continue serious preparations for his

4-year-old campaign. Monarchos is perfect at Gulfstream, where he won all three of his starts last winter, including the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

"He has grown up and really filled out since he last raced," said Ward. "After the Belmont he got very gray, an indication of just how much stress these animals go through when running in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Now he's back to that dark, silver look he had before the Derby.

Ward said he is going to take his time with Monarchos, whose first goal will be Gulfstream's Donn Handicap on Feb. 2.

"I'm going to go along real slow and easy with him," said Ward. "There's a big difference between training a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old during the winter. With a 3-year-old your goal is to have him up to a big race on the first Saturday in May. But there are usually big dances for older horses every three weeks during the winter and spring. It's a long year and our main goal is to have a horse left for the end of the season."

Strong field expected for Genter

As with most of the turf stakes at Calder this month, Saturday's $100,000 Frances A. Genter Handicap will almost certainly have a full and quality field.

Among the expected starters are trainer Shug McGaughey's promising Amelia, who has won 3 of her 6 starts on grass and finished a troubled fourth in a division of the Grade 3 Pebbles Handicap at Belmont Park when making her turf debut in October. She bounced back to defeat older horses going 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 1.

Trainer Michael Matz, who won Saturday's My Charmer Handicap with Batique, will return with Salty You, a daughter of Salt Lake who finished third in the second division of the Pebbles. Allen Jerkens will also have a pair of key contender in the

7 1/2-furlong Genter, Shooting Party and Fiddle.

Shooting Party narrowly outlasted Amelia for third money in the Pebbles after finishing second in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup earlier in the Belmont meeting. Fiddle won the Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park in July.

Sara's Success and Grey Ballet, who have swapped decisions in their last two starts, head the home team for the Genter along with Amy 'n Jill and Platinum Tiara.

The Genter will share the spotlight on Saturday's program with the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap at seven furlongs.

* Past performances require Adobe Acrobat Reader.