04/01/2010 11:00PM

Proven on dirt, but race is on turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Gold Trippi is the richest and Formidable the hottest member of the seven-horse field that has been assembled for the $56,000 allowance dash that highlight's Sunday's nine-race Easter Sunday program at Gulfstream Park. The problem is, this particular race is scheduled to be run at five furlongs on the turf and neither Gold Trippi nor Formidable has ever won a race on grass.

Gold Trippi has not only banked more money - in excess of $373,000 - than anyone else in the lineup, he is also the only one with Grade 1 experience, having finished ninth last summer in Saratoga's Forego. Gold Trippi won two races in 2009, including an overnight stakes, with both wins coming for his former trainer Stanley Hough.

Gold Trippi was transferred to trainer Bruce Brown's barn late last fall, after which he finished sixth in the Gravesend at Aqueduct on Dec. 26. He has not started since. Gold Trippi tried turf three times as a 3-year-old, and his best effort was a second-place finish against entry-level allowance competition.

"We needed a race to start him back, and it's not easy to find a spot with a horse like him who doesn't really have any allowance conditions left," said Brown. "He's handled turf in the past and been training very well. Five furlongs is not his best distance, but I would like to see him come running at the end."

Formidable is perfect in two starts here this winter for trainer Allen Jerkens, having defeated both second- and third-level allowance competition on the main track. Sunday will mark his first try on grass.

Gold Trippi and Formidable will face a handful of proven turf sprinters on Sunday, including the Linda Rice-trained entry of Awakino Cat and Lady Rizzi.

Awakino Cat finished fourth as the even-money favorite in a similar allowance race earlier this winter at Tampa Bay Downs, but captured a pair of allowance races over this course as well as two overnight stakes at Saratoga during his 2009 campaign.

Tampa invaders and familiar rivals Sneaking Uponyou and Hold the Salt will make the 4 1/2-hour van ride down Alligator Alley to meet again here Sunday. Hold the Salt got the best of their previous meeting in December, although Sneaking Uponyou bounced back to win a pair of stakes, one on grass and one over the main track, earlier this winter.