04/02/2010 12:00AM

Soft turf hurt Presious Passion's chances


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Not every trainer handles adversity in the same manner. Some who are often quite gracious in victory can be equally as difficult to deal with following a defeat.

They all should take a lesson from Mary Hartmann.

Win or lose, first or last, sometimes it's hard to tell with the classy Hartmann.

Hartmann could have brushed off any inquiries about Presious Passion's last-place finish in the recent Dubai Sheema Classic at the new Meydan Racecourse. Instead, as usual, she graciously talked about both the race and her experiences during her recent trip to Dubai.

"The good thing about all of this is that he came back fine," Hartmann said earlier this week. "I think he was pretty much a victim of a soft turf course over there. The Europeans had complained in the days leading up to World Cup Day that the turf was too firm, so they saturated the course prior to the races. When he came back to the barn his bandages were all green."

Hartmann said Presious Passion, who gained world-wide attention last fall with his gritty second-place finish behind defending champion Conduit in the Breeders' Cup Turf, would be given a little break before shipping to his summer home at Monmouth Park.

"We'll take him back to Monmouth and resume his regular routine there," said Hartmann. "Probably run him in the same races again this summer, including the United Nations, and try to have him ready next fall for the Breeders' Cup."

Presious Passion registered one of his two Grade 1 wins in 2009 in the United Nations. He also successfully defended his title earlier this winter here at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida.

Hartmann said the treatment both she and her horse received in Dubai was first rate.

"It was an interesting experience and nice to be able to see something different over there," said Hartmann. "The new racetrack itself is unbelievable. It's huge! You can fit two Belmonts inside of it. I had a great time but I probably wouldn't do it again."

Dirt marathon favors inside speed

When Friday's third race was carded at 1 1/2 miles it posed a real logistical problem for track management as well as jockeys and the gate crew. To run a 12-furlong race over the 1 1/8-mile main track here, the starting gate has to be placed at the three-eighths pole, midway on the turn.

Several alternative options were considered, although in the end, the riders agreed to make the best of the situation and start the race on the turn. And fortunately, everything went off without a hitch.

Anasheed Flash, taking advantage of post 2, went right to the lead and never looked back. Decaf Again, who broke on the rail, rallied up the inside to finish second. Mecke Me Free, who was forced to begin in a precarious position on the outside, was never a factor as the 8-5 favorite.

"If they run the race from that spot again they have to angle the gate a lot more sharply," said Manny Cruz, who took Mecke Me Free right back to last and over to the rail after the start of the starter allowance race. "It doesn't look good, but it's better for the riders and gives the outside horses a fairer chance. By having the gate the way they did, it gave the inside horses with speed too much of an advantage."

* Apprentice John Delgado won the first race of his career when he guided Enginery to victory in Thursday's opener. Enginery is owned and trained by former NFL running back Moe Williams.