02/23/2012 4:28PM

Oaklawn: Comedero recovers in time to defend Nodouble Breeders' title

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Comedero put on a show in the Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes a year ago at Oaklawn Park, when he won the Arkansas-bred sprint by 10 lengths with a Beyer Figure of 100. He’s back to defend his title Saturday, but late last year his appearance in the six-furlong race was in doubt. Comedero was hit with a severe infection in what became a two-month ordeal for the graded stakes winner, who has earned more than $600,000.

“We’re just happy we got him back to the races,” said Michael Stidham, who trains Comedero for Peter Redekop.

Comedero is a bonafide Arkansas-bred star. He has compiled a 10-for-17 record while winning nine stakes, including the Grade 3 Chick Lang at Pimlico and the $400,000 Red Legend at Charles Town. Comedero, a 5-year-old by Posse, is also 3 for 3 at Oaklawn, all of his wins in stakes between 2010 and 2011. In this year’s Nodouble, a $50,000 race for 3-year-olds and up bred in Arkansas, a field of eight will go, including stakes winners The Mallard Man and Rattlesnake Holler.

But the horse to beat remains Comedero, despite the fact that he will be making his first start since October. He had been on deck to run in November at Fair Grounds, in the Thanksgiving Handicap. But following his final work for the race, a bullet five furlongs in 58.40 seconds on Nov. 10, Comedero turned up with lameness in his hind end, said Stidham.

“We thought it was a curb,” Stidham said, referring to an inflammation just below the hock area that can become calcified. “It turned out to be an infection under the ligament that runs on the back of the hock, where a curb would be. It blew up, got real big, swollen.

“We had a heck of a time with it. It was touch and go if he was even going to race again. We got real lucky, got him through it. His attitude is back good again. We fell like we’ve got him back to where he’s doing really well again by the way he’s acting.”

Comedero returned to the work tab on Jan. 15. His drills have gotten progressively stronger, and on Feb. 15 at Fair Grounds he worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds. The move was the fastest of 32 at the distance.

Comedero will break from the rail, under Cliff Berry.

The Mallard Man, who won the $50,000 Arkansas Breeders’ at 1 1/16 miles last April at Oaklawn, is also making his first start since October on Saturday. He has worked sharply for the Nodouble, his latest move a near-bullet half-mile in 47.60 on Feb. 19. Lindey Wade has the mount for Five Star Racing Stable and trainer Al Cates.

The Nodouble will share a card with the $50,000 Downthedustyroad, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares bred in Arkansas. All About Allie will be returning to the statebred ranks after finishing fourth last out in the $50,000 American Beauty at Oaklawn. The winner of that race, Gleaming, has since returned to win the $60,000 Spring Fever.

Berry will ride All About Allie, who last year at 3 was a front-running winner of the Downthedustyroad for Sanders Brothers and trainer David Whited.