12/04/2009 12:00AM

Myrtle's Gray ships back from Florida


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Wagering on Gulfstream Park shippers is usually a rite of spring for New York horseplayers. Sunday, two weeks before the official start of winter, a Gulfstream shipper looks live in the $65,000 East View Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies at Aqueduct.

Myrtle's Gray was shipped to south Florida shortly after winning a six-furlong maiden race here by eight lengths on Nov. 8. Trainer Wesley Ward was planning on training the filly up to an open-company allowance race at Gulfstream early in January. But after she put in two solid workouts at Gulfstream, Ward decided to fly Myrtle's Gray back to New York for the East View.

"Those works were very powerful, and against older horses, too,'' Ward said Friday from Florida. "I called the owner and said I think we should take a shot in that race.''

Owned by Jeff Zlonis, Myrtle's Gray debuted in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Saratoga, where she finished a distant fourth. In addition to getting off slowly, Myrtle's Gray came out of the race with a wrenched ankle, according to Ward. She showed two solid workouts heading into the Nov. 8 race at Aqueduct, and she ran to those works, galloping to an easy score.

Myrtle's Gray made her first two starts in blinkers. Ward is removing that equipment for this start.

"I breezed her the last couple of works down at Gulfstream with blinkers off," Ward said. "She relaxed a lot better, so that's the reason we decided to take the blinkers off."

Ward is optimistic that Myrtle's Gray will handle the stretch-out from six furlongs to a mile and 70 yards.

"I don't see any problem,'' he said. "Her physical attributes look like she's going to be a route horse.''

John Velazquez will ride Myrtle's Gray from post 7.

Primed to Be Ready won a statebred maiden $35,000 claiming race by 11 lengths on Nov. 29 and also stretches out to a mile and 70 yards for Gary Contessa.

"She's a Prime Timber, she acts like she wants to go two turns,'' Contessa said. "I would like to race every 2-year-old two turns. They stay sounder.''

Opus A was a debut winner going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga in August, then was overmatched when beaten 19 1/2 lengths in the Grade 1 Spinaway. Trainer Rick Violette said Opus A has undergone throat surgery since the Spinaway.

Other contenders in the 10-horse field include Under the Rainbow, who won a one-mile maiden race at Belmont, Bobbi O, Our Lady Liberty, and Miss Step.

Haynesfield pointed to Donn

Haynesfield, who won his first graded stakes when he took the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap here on Nov. 21, will be aimed at the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 6, assistant trainer Toby Sheets said.

Haynesfield will likely have a prep race before the Donn, but Sheets said when and where that will take place has not yet been finalized.

"We'd like to run in the Donn, but we're not sure how to get there,'' said Sheets, the New York-based assistant to Steve Asmussen.

Haynesfield was the dominant 3-year-old here last winter, winning the Damon Runyon, Count Fleet, and Whirlaway before finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Gotham. Since returning from a long layoff, Haynesfield has finished second in a sprint stakes and won the $250,000 Empire Classic and the Discovery. He won the Discovery by 4 1/2 lengths and earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Interpatation will race in 2010

Aside from the race itself, trainer Bobby Barbara enjoyed his five-day stint in Japan, where his Grade 1 winner Interpatation finished 14th in the Japan Cup.

"I loved every minute of it for the five days,'' Barbara said. "The worst part of it was the 2 minutes, 22 seconds it took to run the race; the rest was fantastic. They couldn't have treated me or my group any better. If I had to do it all over again I would in a minute.''

Barbara explained that the pre-race activity before the Japan Cup was very different than in the U.S. Barbara said Interpatation left the barn at 1:55 p.m. for a 3:20 race. The horses for the race were walked around 20 minutes, saddled, then walked around for another 20 minutes before being sent to a holding area near the three-eighths pole. There was no time to warm up on the track.

"He was pretty confused about things,'' Barbara said. "I'm sure a little bit of his race was left back there.''

Barbara also said he wished Interpatation could have been closer to the pace in the early stages of the Japan Cup.

"He's become a one-paced horse,'' Barbara said. "He doesn't have a kick anymore. He ended up where he started off.''

Interpatation, who upset Gio Ponti in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational in October, returned to New York earlier in the week. He was scheduled to be released from quarantine at Newburgh on Saturday and was to van down to Legacy Farm in Ocala, Fla., where he will spend a few months before returning for a 2010 campaign.

"He'll come back, grind it out again," Barbara said. "Hopefully something good happens again like this year."

* Cuff Me made it 3 for 3 with a workmanlike two-length victory in Friday's $66,250 Silent Turn Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies. Under Ramon Dominguez, Cuff Me dueled with Simply Spiteful through a half-mile in 45.67 seconds before pulling away in the stretch. Cuff Me, a daughter of Officer owned by a group headed by Michael Dubb and trained by Tony Dutrow, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.26 and returned $2.60.