02/25/2009 1:00AM

Porter says he's partial to Old Fashioned


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rick Porter bought more yearlings than usual back in 2007, and is reaping the rewards this spring as he owns two of the top-ranked colts on this year's Kentucky Derby trail, Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire.

"We're pretty darn lucky," Porter said Wednesday.

Porter, who races Old Fashioned in the red and white colors of his Fox Hill Farm, owns Friesan Fire with Vinery Stables. Both horses are to run next in Kentucky Derby preps on March 14, with Old Fashioned on deck for the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel at Oaklawn and Friesan Fire pointing for the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

Porter, who was in Florida on Wednesday, said he has been debating where he will be March 14. He originally expected to travel to New Orleans because he will have three horses in stakes races that afternoon, including Honest Man in the New Orleans Handicap. However, he said he has made the decision to be at Oaklawn with Old Fashioned.

"He's just been my favorite yearling from the day we left Keeneland with all of the horses we purchased," Porter said. "He's always been my favorite; got my favorite name. The more I thought about it, I said, 'I've got to go to Arkansas.' "

Porter, 68, has owned the Kentucky Derby runner-up each of the last two years, finishing second in 2008 with Eight Belles, and second in 2007 with the future Grade 1 winner Hard Spun. Old Fashioned is undefeated in four starts and is widely considered the early favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby.

Other 3-year-olds racing for Porter include Dr. Large, a recent allowance winner at Oaklawn who has been nominated to the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 29. As for fillies, there is Song of Solomon, a 13-length maiden winner and full sister to Grade 2 winner Rockport Harbor. Porter also has Christina's World, who like Old Fashioned and Song of Solomon is by Unbridled's Song.

"We think we've got two very nice stakes fillies in Song of Solomon and Christina's World," said Porter.

"I didn't plan on buying as many yearlings as I did in 2007," he said. "We just happened to find a lot more we liked, and we were able to buy them in the range I thought they were worth."

Point Lookout, an unraced son of Medaglia d'Oro, is two works from making his career debut, said Porter. He is based at Oaklawn with Larry Jones, who also trains Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire.

Sunland: Big plans for Song of Navarone

Song of Navarone, who won his third consecutive stakes race earlier this month at Sunland Park, has a long-term goal of making the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 25, according to his trainer, Henry Dominguez. He said the first order of business, however, will be a start in the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap on April 19.

"If he does well in the Sunland Park Handicap here, we'll probably point him to Dallas," said Dominguez. "He's doing really well right now."

Song of Navarone set a track record in the $50,000 Curribot on Feb. 16, a race in which he ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.91.

Carousel next for Palanka City

Palanka City, the winner of the $50,000 Spring Fever for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs last weekend at Oaklawn, is scheduled to make her next start in the $50,000 Carousel at the track on March 28, said her trainer, Terry Gestes.

Another Oaklawn-based stakes winner for Gestes, the 3-year-old Proceed Bee, will run in Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway. He recently worked at Oaklawn and will add blinkers for the race, said Gestes.

Retama closes on Saturday

Retama Park will close out its first winter Thoroughbred meet Saturday night. Trainer Danny Pish is poised to win his 11th local title. The leading rider is Eguard Tejera, who had a six-bagger at the track Jan. 22 in what is believed to be a record for Retama, according to track spokesperson Doug Vair.

Manor Downs, which operates a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses near Austin, Texas, is scheduled to open on Saturday.

* Alina, who ran one of the biggest races of her career at Delta Downs, will return to the track Saturday night for the $75,000 Goddess. Also on the card, the $75,000 Gulf Coast Classic drew 10 head, including recent Delta stakes winner Acting Zippy.