10/26/2010 1:59PM

Square Deal gets back on main track


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Trainer Kristin Mulhall had Square Deal at the start of his career in the winter of 2007-08, long enough to grow attached.

When he was shipped back East by his then owners, Mulhall kept an eye on the gelding and bought the now 5-year-old privately earlier this year for “$40,000 or $50,000,” she said.

It was a good deal for the trainer and new partnership that owns Square Deal. He won a first condition allowance race over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on Oct. 2 and starts in an optional claimer on the synthetic main track in Thursday’s fifth race.

“After we bought him, we thought he might be a claimer,” Mulhall said. “Now, he’s getting better.”

Thursday’s race will be Square Deal’s first start on a synthetic track since Mulhall had him in January of his 3-year-old season in 2008. In a maiden race that year, Square Deal was third to Crown of Thorns, who was second by a nose in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Mulhall bought Square Deal this summer when he was racing at Calder with mixed results. He won two $25,000 claiming races and had been fifth in the Turf Sprint Handicap there in July before the deal was finalized.

In three starts for Mulhall at Del Mar, Square Deal was third, fifth, and second in optional claimers over five furlongs on turf, including a nose loss Sept. 6.

“Down at Del Mar, we were going to run him on Polytrack but we were stuck on grass,” she said. “After his last race, we were looking at him and thought, ‘Wow.’ He’s training better coming into this race.”

Square Deal, by Sky Mesa, is part of a field of seven Thursday, including two runners trained by Bob Baffert – El Martillo and Spaniard. El Martillo, a closer, was third in the Governor’s Cup Handicap at Fairplex Park on Sept. 22. Spaniard, who has speed, was second in the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 8 and second to the well-regarded 3-year-old Don Tito at Hollywood Park on Sept. 30.

Square Deal could fight for the early lead with Spaniard, but Mulhall insists her gelding is not one-dimensional.

“I don’t think he has to be on the lead,” she said.