03/11/2010 1:00AM

Oaklawn roundup

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WILL A LONGSHOT FIRE?

Uh Oh Bango looks like the wild card Saturday in the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He could be a significant pace factor in what will be his first start since December. He also owns the field's best career Beyer Figure, and he exits a race in which he missed by a neck to leading Kentucky Derby prospect Rule.

It's a resume that suggests Uh Oh Bango could be a major player Saturday. But is he ready to fire the kind of race that would be enough to upset champion Lookin At Lucky and Grade 1 winners Noble's Promise and Dublin?

Uh Oh Bango has not run since Dec. 4, when he dueled through the stretch with Rule in the Grade 3, $750,000 Delta Jackpot. He picked up $150,000 in graded earnings that night, which has taken away some of the urgency the connections of a Derby hopeful might have approaching the preps. It's a nice position for Uh Oh Bango's owner, Triple AAA Ranch, and his trainer, Kory Owens, but one that does not translate into peaking Saturday for the Rebel.

"We don't have to rush like some other horses," Owens said.

Owens said he is eager to see how Uh Oh Bango adapts to Oaklawn after the horse did most of his prep work for the Rebel on a faster track at Turf Paradise. He had intended to ship Uh Oh Bango here in the middle of February to get more than one major work in over the local surface, but bad weather disrupted those plans. Uh Oh Bango arrived Feb. 27 and had one breeze at Oaklawn as of Tuesday, going five-eighths of a mile in 1:03.20 on March 5.

"The one work we've done on the surface here, he handled the track," Owens said Tuesday. "I'm happy with him. We are going into a deeper surface, and fitness-wise, I do have a little bit of a worry about that. I'm kind of hesitant coming off the track he was training on. After this race, I'll have a better answer."

As for Uh Oh Bango's role in the pace Saturday, he did push the front-running Rule along in the Delta Jackpot. Before that start, however, Uh Oh Bango rallied from sixth to finish second in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs.

"I've seen the horse show a little more speed, and I've also seen him relax and come from off of it," Owens said. "In the race with Rule, we were hoping someone else would have gone with Rule. We had to go up a little earlier than we wanted."

Uh Oh Bango earned a 95 Beyer at Delta, the second-best last-race Beyer in the Rebel; Dublin earned a 96 last month, when he was second in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn.

Uh Oh Bango can be right there Saturday if he makes the move forward from 2 to 3, and so far, Owens said he likes what he is seeing from him.

"He acts like a more mature horse instead of a timid 2-year-old," he said.

Uh Oh Bango has shipped in well to Oaklawn, which is no surprise. He is proven in that regard - in one of his trips, for the $53,000 Freshman, he went from his Remington Park base last summer to Prairie Meadows. He won the race by more than 10 lengths and earned a Beyer of 102, the best number by a juvenile colt in 2009.

And by the way, Uh Oh Bango is a colt. Last year he had been listed as a ridgling in an administrative error, but has always been a colt, and his past performance will reflect that for the first time Saturday. The Rebel will launch a spring campaign Owens hopes will lead to the Arkansas Derby and then the Kentucky Derby.

ON THE STAKES DOCKET

The Rebel will be part of a 3-year-old doubleheader here Saturday. The Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee is for fillies who have their sights set on the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy next month at Oaklawn.

Beautician, who arrived Tuesday morning aboard a flight from south Florida, will start her season in the race. Last year, she was a close second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her competition will include several quality locals, including Grade 3 winner Decelerator.

No Such Word is a well-regarded local for trainer Cindy Jones off an authoritative win in her two-turn debut. It came in a first-level allowance Feb. 14, and since the race she has worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.20 seconds March 8. No Such Word might be the latest quality filly from the Jones operation, which has won the last two Honeybees, with Eight Belles and Just Jenda. Those fillies were trained by Jones's husband, Larry Jones, who is now retired.

TALES FROM THE TRACK

Jockey agent Doc Danner has made it his business to help trainer D. Wayne Lukas count calories leading up to the Kentuky Derby. Lukas, an impeccable dresser, is pointing Dublin to the Derby and Danner wants to make sure his friend stays in shape for the big event. But it's been a balancing act.

Danner and his rider, apprentice Freddie Lenclud, have had success for Lukas this meet, and that means the morning after a win, Danner delivers donuts to the barn. But he's had to be sneaky making his rounds.

"I don't bring them until about 6, when I know he's on the pony," Danner said. "That way the grooms can get them, and he'll stay away from them - because he did get a new suit made!"

HORSES TO WATCH

Staringold

Trainer: Michael Trivigno

Last race: March 7, 8th

Finish: 3rd by 12 1/2

A 3-year-old facing older rivals in a $20,000 conditioned claimer, he put in a nice closing run in the race that ended at the sixteenth pole - as do all one-mile races at Oaklawn. Startingold was next to last around the first turn, going well wide in perhaps a move to keep him from being pelted with kickback that can discourage a horse. He then began to pick up rivals, passing all but two in a race won by an older front-runner.

Red Oak Ridge

Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Last race: March 6, 5th

Finish: 1st by 1

He put in a nice late run to win in his first out since July and first start over conventional dirt in a maiden special weight at six furlongs. Red Oak Ridge began his career at Keeneland, where in his debut he faced future Grade 1 winner Noble's Promise.

Dress In Dubai

Trainer: Michael Trivigno

Last race: March 5, 9th

Finish: 1st by 1/2

She has stepped up her game considerably the last several months, winning a $40,000 optional claiming sprint with a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 in January, then stretching out to a mile at a similar level the other day and taking control of a solid field from the start. She looks like a threat at one turn and two, under the right pace circumstances.