09/14/2009 11:00PM

Paraiba leads Donk's entry in turf route

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ELMONT, N.Y. - After two gorgeous dark days weather-wise, rain was forecast to return to the area Wednesday, and the timing could determine how many of the five turf races scheduled to be run at Belmont Park actually remain on the grass.

Among the more intriguing turf events is a $45,000 second-level allowance race for New York-breds scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Widener Turf Course. The race, which also offers a $30,000 claiming option, drew an 11-horse field, plus one main-track-only entrant.

Trainer David Donk is sending out the coupled entry of Paraiba and Queen of Protocol, with Paraiba appearing to be the stronger half of the duo. Paraiba finished third in this same condition on Aug. 10 going a two-turn mile at Saratoga. Two starts back, going 1 1/16 miles over the Widener Turf, Paraiba recorded a half-length victory.

Donk said Paraiba still has a tendency to race greenly, something she displayed in the stretch of her last race. Donk added blinkers to Paraiba's equipment off a maiden win in April, and Paraiba has a win and two narrow losses from four starts since.

In her last start, Paraiba finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, but raced four to five wide most of the way around the track.

"She finished up well - the other two quickened up a little better than she did," Donk said. "I don't think we've seen the best of her yet."

Julien Leparoux has the call on Paraiba from post 4.

In the same Aug. 10 race in which Paraiba finished third, Speed Dating finished fifth, beaten three lengths. She appeared to be getting a good stalking trip under Alan Garcia but could not go on with it. A return to Belmont may also help her, as she has yet to finish worse than third in three starts over the course.

Mike Hushion has taken over the training of Speed Dating from Kiaran McLaughlin, who split with West Point Thoroughbreds, the filly's owner, following the Saratoga meet. Hushion has trained for West Point in the past, but welcomed the opportunity to be more involved with "an outfit like that," he said.

Hushion said this race had been McLaughlin's target for Speed Dating, but the race failed to fill for about a week. Speed Dating, who blew out a half-mile in 49.69 seconds on Sunday, looks like one of the few speed horses in the field, along with possibly Offhand Remark.

Trainer Tom Bush is sending out the coupled entry of Ambidaxtrous and Tulipmania. Ambidaxtrous has not run since finishing third in this condition on July 24. Tulipmania won an off-the-turf allowance here on May 10.