01/01/2009 12:00AM

Rudy Flyer in off big-figure win


An 87 Beyer Speed Figure for a maiden winner isn't all that noteworthy - unless it's earned by a first-time starter at Turfway Park in the winter.

So it wasn't long after Rudy Flyer won his Dec. 12 career debut by nearly nine lengths over the Polytrack surface at Turfway that trainer Bill Connelly began getting phone calls about possibly selling him.

"There was some interest, but not enough to sell," said Connelly.

Rudy Flyer, a 3-year-old gelding by Mutakddim, is one of 10 colts and geldings scheduled to race Saturday in the $50,000 Turfway Prevue at the Florence, Ky., track. The 6 1/2-furlong Prevue is the 11th of 12 races on a program that begins at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

Rudy Flyer is owned by the Flying High Stables of Henry Brockman, the first client for whom Connelly worked when he started his training career in 1980. Overlooked at 12-1 in his Dec. 12 debut, Rudy Flyer forced the pace before drawing away and earning that lofty 87 Beyer. John McKee, who was along for the ride that night, will be back aboard Saturday when breaking from post 5.

"I knew the horse had some talent because he'd done everything we'd asked of him in the morning," said Connelly. "If he runs back to his first race, I'd expect he'll be pretty tough again Saturday."

Rudy Flyer has a right to be the useful type. His dam, Aunt Ginger, has produced six foals to race, and two of them, Anna Em and Rhythm in Shoes, were minor stakes winners. Connelly trained Aunt Ginger and Rhythm in Shoes.

Besides Rudy Flyer, other logical contenders in the Prevue include Melo, a 20-1 winner of his career debut at Churchill Downs in November before being well beaten in a Churchill allowance, as well as Loch Dubh, Back to Gold, and Gimmeawinn, all of whom are raising into the stakes ranks after winning two races in a row versus lesser.

The Prevue is the first stakes of the winter-spring meet, which runs through April 2 and will be highlighted as usual by the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes on March 21.

The winter-spring meet began with the turn of the calendar Thursday. The holiday meet, which ran Nov. 30 through Wednesday, ended with Tommy Pompell and Mike Maker winning the jockey and trainer titles, respectively.