03/01/2011 2:25PM

Powhatan County starts 3-year-old campaign at Gulfstream

Barbara D. Livingston
Powhatan County will make his 3-year-old debut in an entry-level allowance race Thursday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Powhatan County’s stock has risen steadily this winter, even though the son of Fusaichi Pegasus hasn’t raced since Labor Day. It’s hard to believe but true for one good reason: Powhatan County finished second to Soldat in his 2-year-old finale.

It’s a performance that looks increasingly better as Soldat continues to climb the rankings this winter in the 3-year-old division.

Powhatan County will finally make his 3-year-old debut Thursday at Gulfstream Park, when he faces a full field of entry-level allowance rivals going a mile on the grass in the afternoon’s $51,500 feature.

Powhatan County ran four times at 2, winning his maiden at Saratoga in his turf debut before finishing third via disqualification in Monmouth Park’s Continental Mile and second, beaten three lengths by Soldat, in the Grade 3 With Anticipation.

“He wasn’t moving all that great after that last start, and I didn’t want to sacrifice his 3-year-old campaign by pushing him to make the Breeders’ Cup,” said George Weaver, who trains Powhatan County for Richlyn Farms. “He’s training well for his return. Graham Motion’s horse [Animal Kingdom] earned a good speed figure winning his maiden at Keeneland. But we’ve got a quality horse, and while he may not be at his peak for this one, he should be good enough to do very well in this race.”

Animal Kingdom also is coming off an extended vacation, having been away since winning his maiden by a widening 3 1/2 lengths over the Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 23. Animal Kingdom earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort, the highest of any horse in this lineup. He’ll make his first start since being transferred to Motion’s barn to begin his 3-year-old season.

Extensive is the only other member of the field, aside from Animal Kingdom, to have won his last start, earning his diploma by 4 1/2 lengths when making his local bow under a $75,000 claiming tag Jan. 29.

Like Powhatan County, Ocasta also was graded stakes placed in his 2-year-old finale, having finished third behind Rogue Romance in Keeneland’s Bourbon on Oct. 10. Ocasta has been working regularly at Palm Meadows in preparation for his return.

Breathless Storm makes his U.S. debut and first start since July at Newmarket for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Alan Garcia, the same team that combined with Soldat last Saturday to win the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.