05/23/2008 11:00PM

Remaining star Backseat Rhythm boosts Reynolds barn


ELMONT, N.Y. - Big Brown wasn't the only good horse trainer Pat Reynolds had in his barn last year.

Backseat Rhythm was good enough to finish second in the Gradeo1 Frizette and third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. But Backseat Rhythm went winless in her first three starts this year, the last two on dirt.

On Friday, Backseat Rhythm returned to the turf and led gate to wire to win a first-level allowance race. She won by six lengths and covered the 1o1/4 miles in 2:04.34 over a good turf course and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 87.

"I saw her in the winner's circle and said glad to meet you," Reynolds said. "It's good to have her back and win with style, like she's capable of winning. She kicked in very nice and finished strong."

Reynolds said he was a bit surprised to see Backseat Rhythm on the front end, but was glad to see jockey Javier Castellano take the initiative when no one else went for the lead.

"The last thing I told him was the tank is full, don't worry about running out of gas," Reynolds said. "He stole the race, but he had enough horse to steal the race."

Backseat Rhythm is now 2 for 3 on turf and will likely remain on that surface for now, Reynolds said.

"We'll look for a stake, try to get a Grade 2 win or something," Reynolds aid. "We'll give her some time to digest the race."

The win was a bright spot for Reynolds, who has received a lot of notoriety this spring as the first trainer of Big Brown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. Reynolds trained Big Brown as a 2-year-old, and the colt won his first race for him last summer at Saratoga. A 75 percent interest in the horse was sold by Paul Pompa Jr. to IEAH Stables, and the horse was transferred to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.

Reynolds said he is rooting for Big Brown to win the Triple Crown, but has on more than one occasion said he wished that it was his name in the program.

Executive Fleet gets break till fall

Executive Fleet, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap last month, has been turned out for the summer and will be brought back for a fall campaign, trainer Linda Rice said.

Executive Fleet, a 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet, has been in training and racing for the last year without a break.

"I've been wanting to give him a vacation for awhile but he was running so well," Rice said. "After his last race I decided to turn him out for the summer. He's been in training for a long time. I'll bring him back in right after Saratoga and have him ready for Aqueduct."

Prior to the Carter, Executive Fleet won two allowance races over Aqueduct's inner track. After losing by a half-length to Bustin Stones in the Carter, Executive Fleet finished sixth of seven as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap.

Prine pops with Halanation

David Prine had already beaten the odds just to get his trainer's license. So the fact his first starter was sent off at 72-1 on Saturday was no big deal. It became a big deal when the Prine-trained Halanation rallied to win a seven-furlong maiden turf race by 1 1/2 lengths, returning $146.

According to a profile on him in the Belmont track program, Prine, who was working as a chef, was nearly killed in a gas explosion in a Louisville, Ky., kitchen in 1999. The accident left him paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. After years of physical therapy, Prine worked his way back to the track where he worked as a hotwalker in high school.

Prine took a class on the principles of caring for Thoroughbreds, taught by trainer Ted Landers, and eventually got an assistant's job for Steve Jerkens and then Landers. Prine, 47, now trains three horses on his own.

Lear's Princess hurt, gets time off

Lear's Princess, best known for toppling Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches in last year's Grade 1 Gazelle, came out of her last race with an ankle injury and and will be given some time off, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Lear's Princess finished third in the Grade 3 Louisville Stakes on Mayo2, her third loss in as many starts this year.

"She came out of her race at Churchill with some heat and inflammation in her left ankle, so we're sending her to Dr. [William] Baker at the Woodford Veterinary Clinic."

McLaughlin said he was hopeful Lear's Princess would come back to his stable whether it's in "30, 60, or 180 days."

Customer appreciation week

After Monday's Memorial Day card, Belmont will be dark for two days. Starting Thursday, the New York Racing Association will offer free general admission and parking as well as half-priced programs for four days.

On Thursday and Friday, fans can buy a 12-ounce soda for 50 cents, hot dogs for $1, and hamburgers for $2.

Next Saturday and Sunday, Belmont Park's backyard will host a food festival, featuring food from all regions and all cultures.