06/29/2009 11:00PM

Patient path for Pinckney Hill

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ELMONT, N.Y. - It seems like trainer Angel Penna Jr. has been playing catch-up with his talented 3-year-old Pinckney Hill since the beginning. The wet spring/summer in this area hasn't helped him make up much ground.

So instead of getting Pinckney Hill ready to run in a race like the $750,000 Virginia Derby on July 18, Penna is easing him into stakes competition in Wednesday's $65,000 Don Jack Stakes at Belmont Park. The Don Jack, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf, drew a competitive field of seven. Carded as race 3, however, the Don Jack is not part of the pick six, which begins the day with a $42,936 carryover.

Pinckney Hill won his debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 22 by three lengths. But Pinckney Hill had an ankle blistered by accident and "it blew up like a balloon," Penna said. "We had to wait for that to subside and then start back."

Pinckney Hill didn't get back to the races until May 20, when he rallied from last to win a first-level allowance race here by a half-length. He had to go six wide turning for home yet still ran a sub-22-second final quarter to get the win. Some trainers might have gone from that race to the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup on June 20, but Penna felt his horse needed to prove himself beyond one mile.

"When you go to those kind of races, you got to be a little bit sure what you're doing," he said. "You just don't go completely in the dark, so I wanted to give him a race, and I couldn't get the race to make sure the horse can go a little longer."

Pinckney Hill is a half-brother to the stakes-winning English Colony, who was strictly a sprinter. Penna believes Pinckney Hill takes after his sire, A.P. Indy, who was a distance horse, albeit on dirt.

Trainer Christophe Clement sends out the uncoupled entry of Sal the Barber and Golden Mexico, both of whom are dropping out of stakes races. Sal the Barber finished a late-running third in the Lamplighter and should appreciate the added distance. Golden Mexico may not have liked being on the lead when he faded to fourth in the Arlington Classic last out.

Hello Broadway will try turf for the first time for Barclay Tagg, who also sends out Yankee Empire, a recent maiden winner on turf. Tamborim, second in the Lamplighter, and Forest Bell complete the field on turf.