03/01/2010 1:00AM

Pulsion needs cleaner trip in Fla. Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Pulsion is being pointed to the March 20 Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The 3-year-old Pulsion remains a work in progress for trainer Patrick Biancone. The job would be a lot easier if only Pulsion could make it through the opening quarter-mile of his races without finding any trouble.

Pulsion was eliminated and suffered some scrapes and bruises entering the first turn of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, then encountered similar trouble when making his 3-year-old debut here at Gulfstream Park in the . Biancone hopes for a cleaner trip when Pulsion faces his next important test in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 20.

Biancone sent Pulsion out to work five furlongs in 1:01.15 on another cool, crisp morning here Monday. Breaking off just behind stablemate Grand Captain, Pulsion posted an opening quarter-mile split of 24.07 seconds into a fairly brisk headwind and a half in 48.18 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.40.

When asked about Pulsion's performance in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth, Biancone said: "I knew on the first turn it was over. It was a good move to get behind the favorite going into the turn and a wrong decision when the favorite crashed on the turn."

Biancone was referring to Buddy's Saint, who took up sharply after attempting to rush up inside Aikenite on the opening turn in the Fountain of Youth. Jockey Mike Smith had to steady Pulsion briefly in behind Buddy's Saint, dropping back near the rear of the pack. From there, he finished sixth, more than a dozen lengths behind the winner, Eskendereya.

"He's a big baby and difficult to motivate in the morning," said Biancone. "But he's also still growing and learning."

Christine Daae may try Bonnie Miss

Biancone is also excited over the prospect of watching his top 3-year-old filly Christine Daae develop as the year goes on. Christine Daae registered her second easy win this winter and first around two turns when she cruised to a 2 3/4-length entry-level allowance victory going nine furlongs under Corey Nakatani on Sunday.

"That was perfect," said Biancone. "She relaxed very well and when called upon she was gone."

Biancone had entered Christine Daae, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, in last Saturday's Grade 2 Davona Dale but opted to scratch for Sunday's softer spot.

"She had enough quality to run in the Davona Dale, but it would have been a hard race and might have taken its toll down the road," said Biancone. "Especially since we're thinking of bringing her back in three weeks for the Bonnie Miss. That's if she's doing okay. If not, we can wait a week or two and find a race at the Fair Grounds or Oaklawn, although I'd prefer not to travel."

If Christine Daae does go in the Bonnie Miss, it could set up an interesting match with Amen Hallelujah, who dominated the one-mile Davona Dale in her first start on dirt.

Trainer Rick Dutrow said Sunday that he was considering the Bonnie Miss for Amen Hallelujah as well as the Florida Derby for Radiohead and seven-furlong Swale for D' Funnybone. All three races will be run on March 20.

Radiohead thrust himself into the Kentucky Derby picture with a convincing at a mile on Saturday.

Rule to protect bettors under study

The decision to move Saturday's finale from the turf to the dirt, which came less than 10 minutes before scheduled post time, rankled bettors holding live tickets in the daily double, pick three, pick four, and pick six (there were three live tickets) who had handicapped the maiden event based on the race being decided on grass.

On Sunday, track president Ken Dunn explained what transpired in the frenetic minutes leading up to the decision and how he and track management hope to alleviate similar problems in the future.

"After the ninth race, I got a call from the jockeys saying they were concerned with the safety of the course," said Dunn. "Not that it was too soft, but because there was water lying on it that made it slippery and dangerous."

Dunn said that after conferring with local Jockeys Guild leader John Velazquez it was made clear the vote in the room was unanimous not to ride the turf.

"From a management standpoint we recognized this was not going to be a pleasant situation for anybody because of the multi-leg bets," said Dunn. "But we would never dream of forcing the riders or horses to go out on a course deemed unsafe. We wouldn't push the envelope like that."

Once the decision was made to move the race to the main track, Dunn moved post time back approximately 10 minutes to give bettors who had placed wagers in the win, place, show, and single-race exotic pools ample time to cancel or switch their bets. He also gave every trainer with a horse in the race the opportunity to scratch. Only two came out, leaving a field of 10 to start. First National, 14-1 on the board when the surface change was first announced, won the race while closing at odds of 5-1.

"We tried to do everything in a timely manner, based on when we were first informed of the riders' decision not to go out on the turf," said Dunn. "The only other option was to cancel the race entirely, which wouldn't have been fair to all the owners, trainers, and other people who did prepare for and finally participate in the race."

Dunn said he is looking into the possibility of adopting a rule similar to that which exists in New York to cover the situation. That rule essentially makes all bets placed in multi-race wagers an "all" when a surface switch goes into effect.

"In my personal opinion, not having spoken to anybody else here in management or mutuels, this is an idea worth pursuing and I've already asked for a copy of the New York rule to be sent down for us to look at," he said. "Then it would be a matter of approaching the Division of Parimutuel Wagering to get the existing rule changed."

* Javier Castellano won eight races last week to move into a tie with Velasquez atop the jockey standings with 33 wins apiece.

* Kentucky Derby prospects Rule, Super Saver, and Odysseus all worked at Palm Meadows on Monday. Rule went a half-mile in 48.95, his stablemate Super Saver five-eighths in 1:00.70, and Odysseus five furlongs in 1:01.

* Sunday's overall handle of more than $8.6 million was the highest Sunday handle recorded here in more than two years, according to management. A major reason for that success was the $312,734 wagered on the all-turf pick four that concluded the program.

* Turf works, originally scheduled on Sunday, were pushed back until Monday morning and conducted with the dogs out more than 100 feet on the course. Six horses availed themselves of the opportunity to breeze on the grass, including the Biancone-trained Never on Sunday, who was placed second in his U.S. debut in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on Feb. 20.