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O'Rocky takes to new surface
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Next Saturday, trainer Eddie Plesa will find out just how good a 3-year-old he has in O'Rocky when the upset winner of the What a Pleasure Stakes runs in the $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes. On Friday, Plesa found out just how much O'Rocky liked Gulfstream Park's main track by vanning him seven miles from Calder for a five-furlong workout Plesa timed in 1:00.60.
The workout was not officially recorded by track clockers, but would have equaled the second fastest time among 38 timed workouts at the distance.
"I was very pleased with the way he worked and the way he came back,'' Plesa said. "I just wanted to let him see different surroundings and a different track.''
O'Rocky, a son of Birdonthewire, has made all nine of his career starts at Calder, where he won four races, including the What a Pleasure at odds of 22-1.
"He did what he had to do,'' Plesa said. "I thought the jockey [Cornelio Velasquez] rode him perfectly, slowed down the pace and he had something left. He's been an overachiever for us, I hope he continues to be.''
O'Rocky joins Iroquois Stakes winner Harlan's Holiday, Remsen runner-up Nokoma, Florida Stallion Stakes winner Booklet, and Red's Top Gun as confirmed starters for the race. Possible runners include High Star, Speedy Leon, Tax Deferred, and Thatsallmon.
Thatsallmon, a son of Maria's Mon, won his maiden at Turfway Park on Dec. 1 in his second start. Trainer Dale Romans is high on this colt, who on Thursday worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Gulfstream, the fastest of 23 workouts at the distance.
"He just does everything so easy, and he does everything right,'' Romans said. "In his first race he had a little bit of traffic, but was still competitive at the end. He came back at Turfway to win by eight; he didn't beat much, but he did it the right way. He acts like he has a lot of class.''
De Bertie takes Escena
De Bertie continued her winning ways at Gulfstream by rallying from mid-pack and outfinishing Sara's Success in the final furlong to win Friday's $75,400 Escena Stakes by one-half length. It was another head back to pacesetter Lily's Affair.
It was the third stakes win over this track for De Bertie, who last year won the Sabin and Rampart handicaps here. The Escena marked the first stakes win for trainer Steve Flint, who went out on his own last fall after working as an assistant to his father, Bernie.
With Jorge Chavez serving a suspension, Jerry Bailey rode De Bertie to victory. It was one of four winners from as many mounts for Bailey on the 10-race card. Three of those winners came for trainer Bill Mott.
Sent off the 6-5 favorite in the field of 13, De Bertie returned $4.60 after covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.60.
Steve Flint said De Bertie will be pointed to the $100,000 Sabin Handicap on Feb. 8.
The Escena was marred by a spill involving jockey Manuel Aguilar, who was thrown to the ground when his mount, Halo Reality, clipped heels with Miss Kate entering the clubhouse turn. Aguilar was then hit in the back by Cash's Pride. After being examined, Aguilar was taken to Hollywood Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.
Emergency Status to get makeover
Derek Ryan always felt Emergency Status needed blinkers, but he doesn't like to use them on first-time starters. And when the colt won his first two starts sans blinkers, Ryan could not make the change even though he still knew the horse needed them.
But following a seventh-place finish in the Mecke Stakes at Calder last month, Emergency Status will get his blinkers when he runs in Monday's $65,000 Dave Feldman Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf. He will also run on Lasix for the first time.
Emergency Status won his maiden at The Meadowlands last October and came back three weeks later to take the World Appeal Stakes. Ryan said Emergency Status was "all over the place'' in both starts, but his talent overcame his immaturity.
"He's got ability, but mentally he's immature,'' Ryan said, noting that in the Mecke Emergency Status reared before the gate opened.
"That's the hard part, getting him saddled and into the gate,'' Ryan said. "Once they spring the gate, I don't mind.''
The Dave Feldman honors the memory of the long-term turf writer for the Chicago-Sun Times who died last April. Among those expected to run are the filly August Storm, Honor in War, Lord Juban, Mountain Forum, Sneaker Mike, and possibly Worldly Victor.
Ruff may start comeback Sunday
A few months ago, trainer David Donk said that Ruff, a stakes-winning turf filly, had been retired because she was suffering from a partially paralyzed throat. But, Ruff underwent laser surgery and is back in training. She is entered in an optional claiming/third-level allowance race on Sunday, but landed on the also-eligible list and needs one scratch to get in.
"The vets in Kentucky looked at her and thought that the owner should take a shot and try the laser throat surgery,'' Donk said. "Being we had plenty of time before we needed to breed her, we went ahead and did it and she's seemed to do quite well. Johnny [Velazquez] breezed her the other day and gave the thumbs up. The way the turf course has been playing, it kind of sets up for her a bit.''
Ruff, a daughter of Clever Trick, has won 4 of 9 starts, including the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont as a 2-year-old and the Via Borghese Stakes over this course last winter. She has not been out since last August, when she finished 11th in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap at Saratoga.
"Late in her 2-year-old and early in her 3-year-old year I thought she was a Grade 1 horse,'' Donk said.
Cat Cay tops First Lady probables
Cat Cay, who concluded her 4-year-old season with stakes victories at Keeneland and Aqueduct, will make her 5-year-old debut as the co-starting highweight in Friday's $100,000 The First Lady Handicap. A Grade 3 event, The First Lady is run at six furlongs.
Cat Cay was assigned 118 pounds as was Raging Fever, who won the Garland of Roses at Aqueduct in her last start.
Cat Cay, a daughter of Pleasant Colony out of the Alydar mare Cadillacing, won the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 23. Prior to that, she won the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland. Others pointing to the race are Vague Memory (114), Crimson Native (111), Curious Treasures (111), and Miss Inquistive (111). Possible runners include Mandy's Gold (116) and Elvi Gamble (112).
On Friday, Mandy's Gold breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40.
o Unbridled Vision, a half-brother to graded stakes winner Vision and Verse, won his belated career debut on Friday, overcoming a slow start to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Unbridled Vision covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.05 and returned $9.20. Unbridled Vision is a 4-year-old son of Unbridled owned by Bruce Lunsford and trained by Bill Mott.
o Saarland, the Remsen winner, breezed four furlongs in 51.60 seconds as he continues his preparations for the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 16. Changeintheweather, the Grey Stakes winner, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 as he aims for the Fountain of Youth as well.
o Kiss a Native, winner of the Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder on Dec. 29, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Calder. He is being pointed to the Donn Handicap on Feb. 9.