03/17/2009 12:00AM

The Roundhouse should be ready now


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - As a 2-year-old, The Roundhouse was an instant sensation winning his career debut before finishing second in a pair of Grade 2 stakes at Saratoga. Nearly 18 months later, The Roundhouse will still be seeking his second career victory when he takes on six rivals, including the promising Le Grand Cru, in Thursday's $43,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

The Roundhouse's promising career was sidetracked by a saucer fracture and subsequent complications from surgery to repair the injury. A son of Fusaichi Pegasus, The Roundhouse finally returned to the races following a 16-month layoff on Feb. 13, finishing third behind the speedy Formidable going seven furlongs under entry-level allowance conditions here.

"I thought his first race back was good," said Todd Pletcher, who trains The Roundhouse for owner Michael Tabor. "Considering the long layoff, he hung in there pretty well. With that race under his belt and a couple of decent works since, he should be tougher this time."

Edgar Prado, who rode The Roundhouse in his comeback try, will get the call once again on Thursday.

The Roundhouse will have to be tougher the second time around if he's to defeat Le Grand Cru. He, too, was sidelined for an extended period of time, nearly a year, after launching his career with a one-length victory here in March 2008. Backed to

6-5 for his return, Le Grand Cru put up a good fight but could not match strides with Big Red Hope in the final furlong, finishing one length behind his more experienced rival. The 95 Beyer Speed Figure that Le Grand Cru earned in defeat was a point higher than the number he received for his maiden victory.

Jockey Ridge has failed to live up to expectations after posting a 101 Beyer winning his maiden by 4 3/4 lengths here last winter. A son of Broken Vow, Jockey Ridge has since gone winless in four starts, including a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Bay Shore in his 3-year-old finale. Like both The Roundhouse and Le Grand Cru, Jockey Ridge is also coming off what figures to be a much-needed outing earlier in the meet. He finished a tiring sixth following a slow start while making his first start since the Bay Shore more than nine months earlier.

Post Time, Trekkie, Book of Z, and A Unique Treasure complete the lineup.

- additional reporting by David Grening