01/02/2011 4:18PM

Rule works five furlongs in preparation for Hal's Hope


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Rule, who has not started since finishing third as the 9-5 favorite in the 2010 Florida Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:00.90 at Palm Meadows on Sunday in final preparation for his much awaited return, which is scheduled to come Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope Handicap.

Trainer Todd Pletcher opted to pass the Kentucky Derby with Rule, who was then given some time off before returning to training late in his 3-year-old season.

“He worked well this morning and he’s ready to go in the Hal’s Hope,” Pletcher said on Sunday. “He was actually ready to run at Churchill Downs this fall but an allowance race we’d picked out for him didn’t fill so we just decided to back up and half stop on him and get ready for Gulfstream.”

Pletcher said if Rule turns in a good effort in the Hal’s Hope he would likely be pointed for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 5.

Rule tops a list of seven to eight older horses expected for the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope along with Morning Line, Imperial Council, Tackleberry, Soaring Empire, Hear Ye Hear Ye, Dream Maestro, and Caixa Eletronica.

Pletcher also worked Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner-up R Heat Lightning a half mile in 48.70 seconds Sunday at Palm Meadows.

“She worked really well and we’re going to bring her back in the Forward Gal,” said Pletcher. “We feel off her race in the Breeders’ Cup that she could be an Oaks filly and we’re looking to run her through the series of races for 3-year-old fillies here this winter.”

The Grade 2 Forward Gal will be run at seven furlongs on Jan. 30.