08/25/2012 1:08PM

Parx Racing: Ancient Rome faces older rivals in allowance feature

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Talented sprinter Ancient Rome, a two-time stakes winner, challenges older horses for the first time in Monday’s $50,000 feature at Parx Racing.

The Tony Dutrow-trained Ancient Rome is one of two 3-year-olds among seven sprinters going six furlongs in a third-level optional $40,000 claimer that goes as the ninth race.

Ancient Rome rang in 2012 on New Year’s Day by flopping as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Derby, ending any thoughts his connections had of putting him on the Triple Crown trail. Given some time to regroup after a similarly disappointing performance in the six-furlong Fred Capossela in March, Ancient Rome looked good returning from four months on the sidelines winning an overnight stakes at Delaware Park by a half-length on July 14. He earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure, just three points shy of his career best that he was awarded for his nose score in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid on opening day at Gulfstream last December.

The caliber of 3-year-olds Ancient Rome beat at Delaware is somewhat suspect. The runner-up, favored Sword Trick, returned to finish fifth racing for a $35,000 claiming price. Bettors unwilling to back Ancient Rome at a short price while he is stepping up to meet older horses do have a couple of viable alternatives in Dixie Notion and Cactus Charlie.

Since clearing his second allowance condition at Parx in early May, the 5-year-old Dixie Notion has subsequently picked up a pair of seconds in three races. He most recently closed from fifth after a quarter-mile to be beaten 1 3/4 lengths at the same level as Monday’s race.

Cactus Charlie gets some class relief and shortens in distance after eight consecutive starts against stakes company, all in routes. He was second going 1 1/8 miles in last fall’s Maryland Million Classic and third in his first start of 2012 in the 1 1/16-mile Skip Away. Although 0 for 3 lifetime in six-furlong sprints, Cactus Charlie was within a length of the leader at the six-furlong call of the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in early July.

The field also includes 3-year-old Adirondack King, who put together a three-race winning streak sprinting at Parx to close out his 2-year-old campaign. Adirondack King takes a distinct class drop and cuts back to a sprint following four straight appearances going long in stakes, including a third with a career-best 91 Beyer in the Grade 3, one-mile Southwest in February.