07/21/2011 2:52PM

Saratoga: Power World wants more ground than six furlongs of Sanford

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Andrew Watkins
Sweet Ducky, who last raced in Dubai, is now with trainer Seth Benzel at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Neil Howard knows he’s taking on a tall task with his top 2-year-old prospect Power World, who will go up against the likely odds-on favorite Overdriven in Sunday’s six-furlong Sanford Stakes. But Howard believes when the juvenile races begin to stretch out further in distance, perhaps as early as the Grade 1 Hopeful later in the meet, that his already graded-stakes-placed colt will really have a chance to blossom.

Overdriven, trained by Todd Pletcher, and Power World are among the eight 2-year-olds that were entered Thursday for Sunday’s $150,000 Sanford, the first of three juvenile stakes to be decided here this summer. The other races are the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special on Aug. 15 and the seven-furlong Hopeful on Sept. 5.

Power World won his career debut going 4 1/2 furlongs in somewhat of an unconventional manner for a young and inexperienced horse. He rallied from last, nearly a dozen lengths off the lead, to register a one-length decision against maiden special weight opposition at Churchill Downs. He stretched out to five-eighths for his next start in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor, finishing second behind the speedy Exfactor.

“His first two races have been good, but I think his best will probably come later when he gets to stretch out even further,” Howard said. “He ran well but got beat by a good colt in the Bashford Manor. I think maybe we’ll be at a disadvantage against a quick one like Todd’s [Overdriven] in a race like this, but ideally he’ll run well enough to go on to the Hopeful. Seven-eighths should be very suitable for him.”

The complete field, in post position order, for the Grade 3 Sanford consists of Tarpy’s Goal (Javier Castellano), Moonrush (Cornelio Velasquez), Maan (Julien Leparoux), the supplemental nominee Black Rhino (Robby Albarado), Bless the Soldier (Jeffrey Sanchez), Overdriven (John Velazquez), Power World (Edgar Prado), and Jack’s in the Deck (Ramon Dominguez).

Sweet Ducky now with Benzel

Sweet Ducky, a multiple stakes-winning 2-year-old of 2010 who was sold privately earlier this year and raced in Dubai, is back in the United States, has been transferred to trainer Seth Benzel, and could show up in the entries later this meet.

On Thursday, Sweet Ducky worked four furlongs in 48.02 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, the fastest of 21 works at the distance. It was his fourth work since coming to Benzel’s care in the spring.

“This morning was the most forward work he’s had for us, yet he seemed to do it well enough,” Benzel said. “He seems like a class horse; just a pleasure to be around.”

Sweet Ducky won two listed stakes at Monmouth last summer when owned by George and Lori Hall and trained by Kelly Breen. After finishing second to Dialed In in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream in January, Sweet Ducky was sold to Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya. The horse went to Dubai, where he finished 13th of 14 in the UAE Derby.

Shortly thereafter, Sweet Ducky was shipped to Benzel, who was then based at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

“Upon arrival, we made some observations and decided to give him some time to put some weight on and to grow up a little bit,” Benzel said. “He’s done that, he looks fabulous. We’re really happy to have him and happy with his progression so far.”

Benzel said he would like to get Sweet Ducky started in an allowance race here and then take a look at races such as the Pennsylvania Derby or Indiana Derby later in the year.

Benzel enjoyed a wildly successful 2010 Saratoga meet, with 10 wins from 32 starters. He said he has a solid and diverse group of horses for this year’s meet. One horse he is hoping to debut here is Onepointhreekarats, a 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro who brought $1.3 million at the Keeneland September yearling auction. She is owned by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation.

Cribnote nearing return to racing

Two years ago, Cribnote was one of the rising stars of the 2-year-old division, having finished second after bearing out badly around the turn in the Grade 1 Hopeful and third as the tepid favorite in the Grade 1 Champagne. Cribnote has followed a strange path ever since, one that has brought him back to Saratoga, where he’s on the verge of trying to resurrect his once-promising career.

Cribnote took an important step toward launching his comeback here Thursday morning, when he worked a half-mile from the three-eighths to the mile pole in 48.62 seconds and galloped out five-eighths around the bend in 1:01.21 for trainer Rick Violette.

“That was a strong five-eighths he worked this morning, and it was a big jump up for him,” said Violette who has had Cribnote back in his barn for the past three months.

Knee issues first put Cribnote on the shelf following the Champagne. He was then discovered to have a rare disease that compromised his health even further.

“His knees were just not cooperating, and we had to do surgery,” Violette said. “Then we discovered he had a disease that only a small percentage of Thoroughbreds contract in which his body does not synthesize starches properly, causing him to tie up all the time.”

At that point, Violette and Cribnote’s owner-breeder, the Red Diamond Stable, decided to end the colt’s racing career.

“He wound up doing the show horse thing at that point, but he just wasn’t a happy camper with that life,” Violette said. “After all that time, however, his knees had healed and looked great, so we decided to bring him back to the track and try him as a racehorse again.”

And Violette said now that he’s back on the track, there isn’t a happier horse around than Cribnote.

“He loves what he does and he’s having a blast being back at the track again,” Violette said. “He was scary good as a 2-year-old, should have won the Hopeful if he didn’t blow the turn. Right now, we have zero expectations and I haven’t even looked at the book for a race, but if all goes well, I think we’ll see him run here before the end of the meet.”

Calabrese, Canani bring string

Frank Calabrese and Nick Canani, one of the most potent owner-trainer teams in the country, will have a small contingent bedded down at Saratoga for the first time this summer. Canani, who is winning races at a 31 percent rate in 2011, will operate out of eight stalls in barn 26 on the main track during the meet.

Calabrese and Canani wintered at Gulfstream Park and then remained in south Florida for the opening month of the Calder meeting before shipping their entire stable to Monmouth Park in June. Canani and Calabrese wasted little time getting into action locally, entering both Sending Love and Chosen Empire to compete on Friday’s opening-day program.

◗ Jockey Manoel Cruz comes off a suspension issued by the Churchill Downs stewards on Saturday, meaning he will be eligible to ride here beginning Sunday. He is named to ride two horses here on Sunday.

◗ Apprentice jockey Jaime Rodriguez, who won eight races at Belmont, will miss the first seven days of the Saratoga meet due to a careless riding suspension incurred at Aqueduct in March. Rodriguez initially appealed the suspension, but recently dropped that appeal.

– additional reporting by David Grening