02/11/2009 12:00AM

New York-bred Manteca may step up into Stymie


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As 3-year-olds, New York-breds Haynesfield and Mr. Fantasy have received the bulk of the attention around these parts this winter. But there is another New York-bred who has distinguished himself quite well around here too.

Manteca, a 4-year-old son of Aptitude, may have earned a shot in the $65,000 Stymie Stakes on Feb. 28 after recording a convincing 2 1/2-length victory over Giant Moon in last Friday's Rough Rogue Stakes. The victory was the fourth straight for Manteca, and by leading gate to wire, he showed his connections a dimension he had not displayed before.

"I think he's just starting to get the idea of what he's doing out there," trainer Charlton Baker said. "He's definitely got ability. I was wondering what he'd do if he got in front, he's always liked having a target in front of him."

In the Rough Rogue, Manteca set modest fractions and easily ran away from the field when asked turning for home.

Baker feels the best is yet to come from Manteca, and he's eager to find out just how good the horse may be.

"I think he's a nice horse who's going to go on," said Baker, who trains Manteca for Stuart Sobotnick's Anstu Stables. "He came out of the race okay. We'll see how he does in the next week. Now is the time to give him an open company try if we're going to do it."

* Baker said that Talking Treasure, a five-time stakes winner he trained for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, has been retired and will be bred to Kitten's Joy. Talking Treasure, a New York-bred daughter of Catienus, won 7 of 14 starts and earned $361,737. Her stakes wins included the Bouwerie, Lady D'Accord and New York Oaks in 2007 as well as the Fleet Indian and Saratoga Dew in 2008.

Dream Play vs. only four

Having sent Ruthless Stakes winner Justwhistledixie to Florida for the Davona Dale on March 1, trainer Kiaran McLaughln has opted to go with Dream Play in Saturday's $65,000 Dearly Precious Stakes. The race for 3-year-old fillies only drew five and will be carded as race 3. Saturday, NYRA offers a late pick-four with a guaranteed pool of $250,000 and a five-horse field in the sequence could adversely affect handle.

Dream Play was one of four fillies the McLaughlin stable nominated to the Dearly Precious. After winning her debut last May, Dream Play was away from the races until Jan. 11 when she finished fourth out of six in a first-level allowance race. She was beaten only 2 3/4 lengths by J.J. Cuvee after breaking slowly and racing in traffic most of the way.

"She broke a little flat-footed, she was game, stayed on, didn't get discouraged," said Art Magnuson, McLaughlin's New York assistant. "We were pretty happy with that run. You never know how they're going to do when they're in the heat of the battle and things don't really go your way."

Dream Play will break from post 3 and be ridden by Eddie Castro in the Dearly Precious, which basically is a first-level allowance heat. All five runners are simply maiden winners. The field also includes Liza Too, Listentothewindblo, who was supplemented to the race at entry time, Spina, and Chattertown.

The Prince tops Capossela probables

The Prince, who finished second to the promising Taqarub in last month's Jimmy Winkfield Stakes, heads the list of five probables for Sunday's $65,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes for 3-year-olds going six furlongs.

Trainer Tony Dutrow said The Prince is "an immature horse getting better and going to get even better."

Others expected for the six-furlong Capossela include Not for Silver, Smokin Hero, Wildcat Brief, Pop Artist, and possibly Counter Move.

w Aqueduct will be open for racing on Monday, Presidents Day. The feature is the $65,000 Hollie Hughes Stakes for New York-breds. Expected to run in it are Citifest, Gold and Roses, Good Card, Mor Chances, On With It, and possibly Dr. W.