02/18/2008 12:00AM

Sporting Art ready for U.S. debut


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Sporting Art's chances of winning his U.S. debut in Wednesday's $43,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park got considerably better when Why Tonto won the Hallandale Beach Stakes on Saturday.

Why Tonto was entered in the Hallandale Beach and Wednesday's second-level allowance race on the turf. But even if trainer Todd Pletcher had considered running Why Tonto right back on short rest, the colt became ineligible for the condition by virtue of his stakes win.

Sporting Art is a 3-year-old son of Doneraile Court who launched his career in Great Britain with a pair of victories going six furlongs on the turf. He then stepped up into stakes company, finishing fourth in both the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes in early September and fourth when wheeled back just one week later against listed stakes opposition.

Sporting Art was sent to Christophe Clement's barn for his U.S. campaign and has been training steadily for his return during the past several months at Payson Park.

"He's a small horse but well balanced," Clement said. "He got a break after his 2-year-old campaign, but he's been training well. He seems to be training a little better on the grass, so that's why we went in this spot, although if the race comes off the turf he'll still run. He ran against decent competition in Europe. My main worries are if he can get the mile and one-sixteenth as well as the condition of the turf course. I would prefer it to be firm rather than on the soft side because that would make it less tiring for him."

Javier Castellano will ride Sporting Art, who races with Lasix for the first time Wednesday.

Pletcher will still be well represented in the race by Chitoz, a graded-stakes-placed colt who was scratched from the Hallandale Beach. Chitoz has not started since hanging on for a neck victory against entry-level allowance opposition over a yielding turf course at Churchill Downs on Nov. 15. Chitoz rallied from mid-pack to finish second, beaten a neck by Texas Fever, in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile last year over the Polytrack at Turfway Park.

The multiple-stakes-placed Run Sully Run, another member of the Hallandale Beach field scratched in lieu of this softer spot, will be making his turf debut if the race goes on the grass.