03/17/2006 12:00AM

Semaphore Man aims for bigger target

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Jeff Coady / Coady Photography
Trainer Tim Ritchey is teaching Urban Guy to relax.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - One of the best sprinters on the grounds won't be running in Sunday's $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park. Semaphore Man has developed rapidly this meet, and his trainer, Kelly Von Hemel, said he is being considered for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at six furlongs at Oaklawn on April 13.

"We're very happy with where we are and how he came out of his last race, and that's definitely one of the options we're looking at," said Von Hemel.

Semaphore Man ran a career race last out. He stalked the pace and then powered to an 8 1/2-length win in an optional claiming race. He covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:09.35 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106. In his only other start at the meet, Semaphore Man won a two-other-than allowance on Jan. 27, covering six furlongs in 1:10.33 and earning a Beyer of 102.

He has been rationing his speed better in each of his starts this meet.

"That's something that we've worked on a lot in the mornings," said Von Hemel. "After he got to running last year, he got pretty aggressive on us and we took the blinkers back off the last couple of starts. I thought he relaxed better the other day than he did the time before, so that is something, consciously, that we've been trying to work on. With the blinkers off, they tend to relax a little more."

Semaphore Man is a strapping 4-year-old son of Formal Gold and the stakes-winning mare Semaphore Ms. Semaphore Man was stakes-placed last year at 3 and has won 4 of 9 starts. He races for Double Bogey Stable.

Options for Urban Guy

Another top sprinter on the grounds is the 3-year-old Urban Guy, who won the $50,000 Mountain Valley at six furlongs here Feb. 25. Urban Guy, who in his morning training had been taught to come from off the pace, showed the new dimension in the race. Urban Guy stalked the leaders and went on to a 5 1/4-length win under Robby Albarado.

"He sat back and relaxed, and then when Robby asked him, he just accelerated, finished, and was drawing away at the end," said Tim Ritchey, who trains Urban Guy. "I think he's going to be a very good sprinter."

There are no remaining Oaklawn stakes for Urban Guy. One race for which he could be considered is the Grade 3, $100,000 Lafayette at Keeneland on April 9.

"It's a possibility," said Ritchey. "If not, there's a lot of races on the East Coast for 3-year-old sprinters."

Ritchey cited opportunities at Pimlico, Delaware, and Monmouth.

Urban Guy is a son of Marquetry who races for Greg Warren.

Precocious Kat has eye on stakes

Precocious Kat, who has won her last four races by a combined margin of almost 20 lengths, should make her stakes debut soon. Trainer Jerry Calvin said her options are the $75,000 Goddess at Evangeline Downs on March 25 or the $100,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn on April 9.

In her last start, Precocious Kat stormed to a 5 3/4-length win in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer for fillies and mares at Oaklawn on Feb. 23.

"I was really tickled with her," said Calvin. "She just exploded when she was asked to run."

* Cougar Cat worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds Friday. He is a candidate for the Grade 2, $400,000 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 15, said his trainer, Ronny Werner.