12/13/2004 12:00AM

Sprinter A Huevo to go long in Hooper


MIAMI - Owner Mark Hopkins and trainer Michael Dickinson nominated their 8-year-old gelding A Huevo to both Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Fred Hooper Handicap and seven-furlong Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap. But despite being considered a sprint specialist throughout his career, A Huevo will make his local debut around two turns in the Grade 3 Hooper.

"We've really been leaning towards the Hooper all along," said Hopkins. "We want an opportunity to see how he'll handle two turns after making the trip down from Maryland. We'll use the race as a gauge to see if he'll continue to run long or turn back to sprint races next season. If he were to run real well in the Hooper then we might even consider the Donn Handicap this winter at Gulfstream."

An assortment of injuries has limited A Huevo, a son of Cool Joe, to only 10 career starts. He was sidelined from October 1999 until August of 2003, when he returned to win Laurel's Grade 1 De Francis Memorial. He was laid up another 10 months after that victory, returned with a lopsided win in Charles Town's West Virginia Breeders Classic - a three-turn, 1 1/8-mile race - and failed to defend his De Francis title when he finished sixth last month at Pimlico.

"He had just about every leg injury imaginary, chips in both knees and hocks, a suspensory and a tendon, when we laid him up the first time," Hopkins said. "He pulled a tendon after winning the De Francis. It wasn't severe, but with his legs we made sure to give him plenty of time off. I'm not sure exactly what happened in his last start other than we know his blood count did not come back 100 percent after the race."

The Hooper and Kenny Noe Jr. handicaps are two of the four stakes races on Saturday's Grand Slam II program, along with the Grade 2 W. L. McKnight and La Prevoyante handicaps over the turf.

A Huevo will share highweight of 117 pounds in the Hooper with Super Frolic.

The race figures to come up much easier than the Kenny Noe when entries are drawn for the four Grand Slam races on Wednesday.

The Noe will feature an outstanding field of sprint specialists, led by starting highweight Weigelia. Among the others expected to start are Built Up, Coach Jimi Lee, Love That Moon, Silver Wagon, Twilight Road, and Medallist.

Silver Wagon will make his first start since his third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 14. Winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful, he had his final major prep for the Kenny Noe on Monday, working five furlongs in 1:01.20 from the gate.

"He's been away for a while but he's going into this race about 98 percent fit, and I'm not afraid of anybody in that field," said trainer Ralph Ziadie. "Right now, I think he's training as well as he did last year before winning the Hopeful."

Ziadie said his plans call for Silver Wagon to remain sprinting in 2005.

"A race like the Metropolitan Mile might be as far as we'll try him next year," said Ziadie.

Alix M tops D'Wildcat Speed

As expected, Alix M and D'Wildcat Speed separated themselves from the rest of the field and put on a pretty good show before Alix M. eventually edged away to a one-length victory in Monday's $40,000 Connie's Magic Stakes.

The win was the fifth in eight starts for Alix M, a 4-year-old End Sweep filly who did not begin her career until earlier this summer. Alix M was turning back off a game second-place finish behind Hopelessly Devoted in the 1 1/16-mile Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap to 6 1/2 furlongs in the Connie's Magic.

A Florida-bred, Alix M is eligible for both the Distaff and Filly and Mare Sprint on Magna Entertainment Corp.'s Sunshine Millions Day programs, to be run at Santa Anita and Gulfstream on Jan. 29.

D'Wildcat Speed was game in defeat, hanging tough when headed by Alix M into the stretch before finally succumbing near the wire. The start was the second in 18 days for the daughter of Forest Wildcat, who had returned from an 8 1/2-month layoff to dominate the Pocahontas Stakes on Thanksgiving Day.

Beginning Friday, live cards will consist of 12 races per day. The new schedule figures to tax the local horse population, not to mention the racing office, considering there are only three dark days between Friday and the end of the meet on Jan. 2.