10/16/2009 12:00AM

A new plan for Warrior's Reward


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The moment of truth for Warrior's Reward came late in the far turn of the . What unfolded over the final quarter-mile was disappointing to Ian Wilkes, but both the trainer and his colt have lived to fight another day.

"I thought I had a classic horse, but I guess I was wrong," Wilkes said. "He ran up to them like he might win, but Summer Bird was just too good."

Warrior's Reward wound up fifth in the Aug. 29 Travers.

Duly regrouped, and with a new plan of attack, Warrior's Reward will resurface Saturday at Keeneland as a solid favorite in the Grade 3 Perryville Stakes, a Polytrack race that represents a departure in several respects from what Wilkes was trying to get him to accomplish this spring and summer. The colt will be racing on a synthetic surface for the first time; turning back from longer distances to the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet; and, perhaps most importantly, taking what amounts to a sharp drop in class.

"He's run some big numbers going seven furlongs and a mile around one turn," noted Wilkes, referring to the colt's 2 wins from 8 starts. "The Polytrack? That's a good question, but I do think he'll run good over it."

Warrior's Reward will have Calvin Borel back aboard when he breaks from post 3 in the $150,000 Perryville.

Six other 3-year-olds are entered in the Perryville, with El Brujo, winner of the three weeks ago over Polytrack at Turfway Park, looking like the most dangerous challenger. Based in Canada with trainer Malcolm Pierce, El Brujo will be breaking from post 1, with Robby Albarado taking the mount on the hard-trying gelding.

The rest of the lineup for the 11th running of the Perryville is Keechi Bullet, Conchacer, Evolutionist, Not for Silver, and His Greatness. Of those, Not for Silver has shown the most, having won the at Calder in July.

Wilkes, who already has Capt. Candyman Can for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, said he has no particular Breeders' Cup aspirations for Warrior's Reward, barring an extraordinary performance.

:: KING: (DRF Plus)