04/18/2005 11:00PM

Steel Light primed for U.S. debut

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Handicappers trying to solve Thursday's $35,000 feature on the Gulfstream Park turf course have some interesting facts to sort out before deciding who they think might win the five-furlong allowance sprint.

For instance, five of the seven members of the field for this second-level allowance race have never won on the turf. Only two of the seven have won a race in 2005 and three have not even started since the summer of 2004. Two are shipping in from Tampa Bay Downs. It's anybody's guess where Cripple Creek has been training for this race because he shows no recorded works since his last start, nearly 10 months ago at Monmouth Park.

The most relevant fact, however - the one that points out the most likely winner - is that trainer Christophe Clement is sending out Steel Light in what looks like a good spot to win his U.S. debut.

, a well-bred son of Stravinsky, has been idle since June but has been training for his return at Payson Park, where he had two bullet works and has not missed a beat the past month.

Steel Light won 2 of his 7 starts, all on grass in Ireland, as a 2-year-old in 2003. He also finished fourth at 2 in Group 2 and Group 3 races.

Steel Light, 4, a Moyglare Stud Farm homebred, will race on Lasix for the first time Thursday. He also is running for a barn that since Jan. 1, 2004, has a 27 percent win rate with horses making their North American debuts.

Joe Bravo, who has combined with Clement for several grass winners this meet, has the mount.

is the only other member of the field with a win on grass. That victory came in his Gulfstream debut on March 20, when he led throughout and won by 1 1/4 lengths over slightly softer allowance competition. Lotsa Macho, an invader from Tampa Bay Downs, was the first horse his trainer, Cecil Stewart, ran at this meet.

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who sent out three grass winners here Sunday, hopes to instill some of his turf magic in Charming Jim, who will make his grass debut on Thursday. Plesa re-claimed Charming Jim for $50,000 last fall at Belmont Park after losing the son of Silver Charm for $75,000 seven weeks earlier at Saratoga.

is winless in two starts here this winter, both on the main track and against much tougher competition than he'll encounter Thursday. Richard Bracho, who rode all three of Plesa's grass winners on Sunday, will ride Charming Jim.