03/28/2007 11:00PM

Slumping barn banks on Hotstufanthensome


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It has not been a memorable Gulfstream meet for Runnin Horse Farms and trainer Norman Pointer. But that could change Saturday when the star of the Fort Lauderdale-based stable, Hotstufanthensome, runs in the Grade 3, $150,000 Pan American Handicap. The Pan American is one of five stakes on the Saturday card, headed by the $1 million Florida Derby.

Runnin Horse has been a leading owner in recent years at Monmouth Park and has been very active at Gulfstream and Calder. But with just 2 wins from 25 starts this meet, the stable is relegated to the background, although Pointer, 61, does not seem overly bothered.

"It's just the cycle we're in," said Pointer, who last winter was idled for much of Gulfstream after undergoing extensive heart surgery. "This horse Saturday, he could salvage a little something for us."

For the last several years, Hotstufanthensome has come through on key occasions for the stable. A 7-year-old gelding by Awesome Again, he was purchased by Runnin Horse after winning a $32,000 maiden-claiming race at Gulfstream in February 2004 and has developed into a highly reliable stakes performer.

Hotstufanthensome won the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida Handicap last winter over the Gulfstream turf, which bodes well for his chances in the 1 1/2-mile Pan Am, though, as Pointer said, "he doesn't have to carry his racetrack with him."

Last fall, Hotstufanthensome underwent emergency surgery for colic. Given nearly six months between races, he returned Feb. 24 with a victory in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103. "He's better than he ever was," said Pointer.

Hotstufanthensome is part of a highly competitive Pan Am field. He will carry 117 pounds, three fewer than top-weighted Jambalaya, whose rallying triumph in his most recent race, the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park BC Turf on Feb. 24, could make him a slight favorite Saturday.

Other major contenders include Ramazutti, who was 30-1 when he led most of the way in the 2006 Pan Am before being nailed in the final yards by Silver Whistle, and Revved Up, a steady performer from the ever-dangerous Christophe Clement shed row. Revved Up had won his previous 3 races, and 5 of his previous 6, before finishing fifth behind Jambalaya in the Gulfstream Park BC Turf.P

Orchid: Time Ona stand-in for Clement

Orchid once was the dominant color at Gulfstream Park on Florida Derby Day, but no more. Some longstanding traditions were deep-sixed by the massive renovation this track underwent in recent years, including that light shade of purple worn ubiquitously by track officials and racing fans on Gulfstream's biggest day of the year.

What hasn't gone out of fashion, however, is a filly or mare fast and strong enough to win in Grade 3 company at 1 1/2 miles on turf, and thus the stakes race named the Orchid Handicap will be run Saturday for the 44th time. Gulfstream officials thought Royal Highness would start as the highweight and solid favorite in the Orchid, but when entries were released Thursday afternoon, trainer Christophe Clement instead had a different European import, Time On, as his lone stable representative for the $150,000 race.

Time On appears to be more than a decent stand-in. A 4-year-old filly by the great sire Sadler's Wells, she already is a group stakes winner, capturing the Group 2 Prix de Malleret last summer at Saint-Cloud in France when trained by John Dunlop. After ending her 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in a Group 1 race in Italy in October, the filly was sent to Clement - as so many stakes-caliber runners are - and has trained steadily in the interim, 90 minutes north of Gulfstream Park at Payson Park.

Edgar Prado, who rode Royal Highness to victory in the The Very One last month, jumps over to Time On for the Orchid.

Time On will start from post 6 in a field of seven fillies and mares, which also includes the uncoupled Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Safari Queen and Almonsoon as main contenders.

Safari Queen, with Chris DeCarlo to ride, was second to Royal Highness in the The Very One, while Almonsoon, with Rafael Bejarano to ride, is entered off a 3 1/4-length triumph in a second-level turf allowance.

Perhaps a decent longshot play would be La Dolce Vita, whose late-running style suggests she will appreciate the move to three turns. Based at Payson with trainer Mark Hennig, La Dolce Vita overcame early trouble to be along in the final strides to win her last start, a restricted stakes here March 1.

The Orchid goes as the seventh of 12 races on the card and is the first of five consecutive stakes.

Aventura: Street Magician can handle rise

Michael Trombetta has come a long way in his 21 years of training, having started with a small stable of cheap claimers in Maryland. Trombetta, 41, steadily climbed the ladder of success and is now one of the premier trainers on the Eastern seaboard, and last year he hit the pinnacle of his career when Sweetnorthernsaint went off as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and finished second in the Preakness.

It would be fair to say that Trombetta has cultivated an eye for a good horse, and that may not be good news for opposing horsemen in the $175,000 Aventura Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Trombetta firmly believes Street Magician, who exits a maiden race, is a star-in-waiting. The colt will be facing 3-year-olds with considerably more stakes experience in the seven-furlong Aventura.

"He's one of the few horses I've ever had that I don't have a real concern about him being able to handle this kind of class jump," Trombetta said.

Street Magician earned an eye-popping Beyer Speed Figure of 99 in winning his second start, a Feb. 10 maiden sprint at Gulfstream. Trombetta immediately eyed the Aventura as a short-term goal for the Street Cry colt and, he said, "to have squeezed in an allowance race in the meantime would have been a little counterproductive, I thought."

"So we just opted to train him into this, come in with him being fresh," he said.

Street Magician was bred by his owner, Larry Johnson, and although he was sold as a yearling for $100,000, the colt was returned to Johnson because he is a cribber, a horse who tends to bite or chew on anything around him.

"As cribbers go, his tendencies were really kind of minor," said Trombetta. "Obviously we're glad he was turned back in."

While Street Magician clearly is a talented colt, the question for handicappers is whether he is experienced enough to defeat what shapes up as a solid cast in the Aventura. Among the opposition are two Calder-based colts with 13 stakes starts between them - Green Vegas, an earner of $446,700, and Yesbyjimminy, a winner in 4 of 6 starts.