05/20/2011 12:58PM

Monmouth Park: Rush Now stretching out in Spend a Buck

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Rush Now, who has settled for minor shares of two stakes purses since he was given a confidence boost by dropping into a claiming race for the first time in his career, tries to get over the hump and back into the winner’s circle in Sunday’s $75,000 Spend a Buck Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.

Rush Now, who won the $75,000 Dover going 1 1/16 miles at Delaware Park last fall, is among four runners in the mile and 70-yard Spend a Buck to record a Beyer Speed Figure within the narrow range of 83 to 85 within their last two starts. The others are recent maiden winner Malibu Glow; Truman’s Commander, a Nick Zito-trained colt who was ambitiously spotted in the Arkansas Derby last time out; and Line Change, a Maryland shipper who has four wins and a second in his last five races.

Trainer Tony Dutrow will be asking Rush Now to race around two turns for the first time since he failed badly in back-to-back attempts in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot and the Count Fleet at Aqueduct. Dutrow took the drastic step of running Rush Now for a claiming price in a one-turn mile at Laurel Park in early February, and he responded with an eight-length victory and a career-best Beyer of 90.

Moved back to the stakes ranks, Rush Now set the pace and gave way grudgingly to finish second in another one-turn mile, the Private Terms, then pressed the pace and faded to third in a five-horse field going seven furlongs in the Philmont at Parx Racing.

On the plus side, Dutrow shows good stats with horses who finished in the money sprinting now stretching out in a route less than 30 days later. In races with purses of $60,000 or more, Dutrow is 7 for 13 in that category, including a pair of 10-1 upsets by Dance Hall Days in the 2008 Serena’s Song at Monmouth and Laus Deo in the 2010 Count Fleet.

Rush Now, who will break from the outside in a field of seven while being ridden for the first time by Joe Bravo, has little margin for error, because the race appears highly competitive on paper.

Malibu Glow steps right into stakes company off a 4 1/2-length maiden victory at Belmont that was worth an 85 Beyer.

Truman’s Commander, last of 13 in the Arkansas Derby, fits better with this group. He crushed maidens by six lengths, earning an 83 Beyer, going a mile at Oaklawn Park in early March.

Line Change, who raced for a claiming price in the first three starts of his career, tries stakes company for the first time off a two-length win and an 83 Beyer in a first-level optional $30,000 claimer at Pimlico.