03/25/2010 11:00PM

Noble's Promise has tune-up for big day


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Noble's Promise, who could go favored in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby, breezed five furlongs for the race Friday morning at Oaklawn. Trainer Ken McPeek flew in from Florida for the move, which was the first of two the horse is scheduled to have before the April 10 race. McPeek also had Beautician out on the track for some speed work, and he said she is set to make her next start in the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn.

The Fantasy, to be run on Friday, April 2, will open the annual Racing Festival of the South. The festival comprises nine stakes worth at least $2.8 million over the final six dates of the meet. The Oaklawn season wraps up with the Arkansas Derby.

Noble's Promise could go favored in the race. Champion Lookin At Lucky, who edged out Noble's Promise in the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel, is leaning toward making his next start in the Santa Anita Derby.

Noble's Promise worked first after the renovation break, going in 1:02.80 in hand under regular exercise rider Walter Blum Jr.

"He just needed a maintenance breeze," said McPeek. "I would have like to seen him go a little quicker the whole workout, but I like the way he finished, and I like the way he's coming back. Like I said, it was a maintenance breeze. We need a little sharper one next time."

Oaklawn clocker Jim Hamilton timed Noble's Promise through an opening eighth of a mile in 13.20 seconds, and proceeded to catch the horse through an opening quarter in 27 seconds, three furlongs in 39, a half-mile in 51.40, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.40.

McPeek said Robby Albarado has the mount in the Arkansas Derby.

Beautician also worked under Blum, going five furlongs in 1:00.80. The runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, she will be part of a strong Fantasy field. Others considered probable are Blind Luck, a multiple Grade 1 winner; No Such Word, who captured the Grade 3 Honeybee to remain perfect in two-turn races at Oaklawn; and Tidal Pool, who put up a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 last out winning an allowance at Oaklawn. Tidal Pool is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who said Calvin Borel has the mount in the Fantasy.

The festival action will continue on Saturday, April 3, with the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap. Win Willy, who took the Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn, breezed for the race Friday. Oaklawn will not race on Easter Sunday, then will continue with festival stakes on its next race date, Wednesday, April 7. The Grade 1 Apple Blossom, which is expected to draw champion Zenyatta, will be run on April 9.

There are two scheduled flights coming in from California, said Oaklawn's stakes coordinator, Craig Lytel. The first is due Tuesday, March 30, and the second April 6. There also could be a flight coming in from Florida.

Comedero stands out in Rainbow

Comedero is a standout Sunday in the $50,000 Rainbow, one of two stakes on the card restricted to horses bred in Arkansas. Ain't He a Pistol will defend his title in the $50,000 Nodouble Breeders' for older horses at six furlongs.

The Rainbow is for 3-year-olds, and Comedero has already won a stakes at the meet for the division. He took the $50,000 Mountain Valley against open company in dominant fashion in his last start, Feb. 27, and for the effort earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 96.

"He got hooked early in the race, and I was a little concerned because he was having to really dig in that first quarter," said Michael Stidham, who trains Comedero. "But then once he cleared those horses, he was really amazing the way he finished and really accelerated the last part of it."

Cliff Berry was aboard and has the return call for owner Peter Redekop.