09/28/2009 11:00PM

Speedy King starts with a win

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Jim Lisa
Joanie's Catch won her first stakes in Saturday's Brave Raj at Calder. The 2-year-old filly had trouble in the starting gate in her previous stakes tries, but was able to break sharply in the Brave Raj.

MIAMI - Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum does not race horses at Calder very often, but his colors were represented by both Quiet Emarati, third in the Needles Stakes, and Speedy King, an easy debut winner, on Saturday's Festival Preview program.

Quiet Emarati and Speedy King, both 3-year-olds, are trained by Michael Yates. Yates may be best known for having originally purchased Eclipse Award winner Stardom Bound as a yearling and then pinhooking her to owner Charles Cono and trainer Christopher Paasch for $375,000 as a 2-year-old at the March 2008 Ocala Breeders' Sales.

Speedy King, a son of Mr. Greeley, led throughout to register a 3 3/4-length victory when launching his career in Saturday's nightcap, a race originally scheduled for the turf but ultimately switched to the main track. Although visually impressive, Speedy King covered the mile in a slow 1:44 and earned just a 52 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Speedy King needed to go to the farm for a while to mature, and Joe Brocklebank recommended to the Maktoums that they send him to me in Ocala," said Yates, the proprietor of Shadybrook Farm. "I've had him about six months. He was training great, and I entered him a couple of times in short races but they weren't being used. So I worked him an easy mile - and he went great, did it like a gallop - put him in this race, and hoped it would come off the grass. I didn't think there was a 3-year-old maiden on the grounds that could beat him."

Yates, who said he also had Grade 1 winner Diamondrella on his farm earlier in her career, isn't sure at this point what plans the Maktoums might have next for Speedy King.

"I don't deal directly with the Maktoums, but through a stable agent and mostly by e-mail," Yates said. "I'll probably know in about a week or so what's next, although nothing has been said about moving the horse anywhere else."

Yates has had Quiet Emarati throughout his 3-year-old campaign. A son of Quiet American, Quiet Emarati began his career with Todd Pletcher and also ran twice for David Duggan before shipping to south Florida at the end of his 2-year-old season. Quiet Emarati finally won his maiden in an off-the-turf maiden special weight race here Aug. 1 and returned to capture his entry-level allowance condition under similar conditions six weeks later. He finished a distant third behind Temo's Dream and Cinnamon Road after stalking the pace in the Needles.

"I really wanted to win that race on Saturday, because my grandfather and father were both connected with Needles during his racing career," Yates said. "My grandfather, the late Roy Yates, managed the farm Needles was on and my father, Buddy Yates, who passed away recently, galloped and broke him as a baby."

Joanie's Catch puts gate problems behind her

Trainer Barry Rose always felt his 2-year-old filly Joanie's Catch had the potential to be a stakes horse, so long as he could get the homebred over her issues at the starting gate.

Rose's prediction finally came to pass Saturday, when Joanie's Catch broke like a seasoned pro en route to a convincing 4 1/2-length triumph in the Brave Raj Stakes. The performance catapulted the daughter of First Tour to the top of her division and stamped her as the one to beat in the $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes on Oct. 17.

Joanie's Catch had broken at or near the rear of the field in the majority of her eight previous starts. A poor beginning cost her a likely victory in the six-furlong Desert Vixen when she was beaten less than a length by Sweetlalabye. The situation was even worse when she dwelt at the break for the Susan's Girl three weeks later.

"After the Desert Vixen, we took her back to the gate about five or six times," Rose explained. "We stood her in the gate, broke her out, and finally worked her five days before the Brave Raj. We also decided to remove the blinkers and shadow roll. She was always closing in her races after the bad starts, so I figured she should go real well when sent a distance of ground as long as she broke with the field."

Not only did Joanie's Catch break alertly but to Rose's surprise, wound up dueling with Susan's Girl winner Rosebud's Ridge for the early lead in the Brave Raj before being eased back off the pace by jockey Daniel Coa in the run down the backstretch. Joanie's Catch then re-challenged on the final bend before readily drawing away through the stretch.

"I never expected her on the lead," Rose said. "I just didn't want her at the rear of the pack again, having to work her way through traffic in a 12-horse field."

Rose said he has no plans for Joanie's Catch beyond the My Dear Girl, since she's not nominated for the Breeders' Cup.

Eibar Coa moving tack to Calder

The local jockey colony will receive a big boost this week with the addition of Eibar Coa, who will begin riding here on a regular basis Saturday. Coa is a seven-time Calder riding champion, with his last local title coming in 2000.

Coa was tied for fourth in the Belmont standings with 12 victories, just three behind current leader Rajiv Maragh, when departing New York earlier this week. He is named on horses in nine of the 13 races on Saturday's card, including Cat Can Do for trainer Ralph Ziadie in the featured 11th race. His book will be handled locally by Tito Fuentes.