Updated on 09/18/2011 1:46AM

Sweetnorthernsaint targets Hal's Hope


MIAMI - Sweetnorthernsaint, the betting favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby and runner-up to Bernardini in the Preakness, is giving every sign he will be even better as a 4-year-old as he continues to prepare for his 2007 debut in the Jan. 6 Hal's Hope Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Sweetnorthernsaint worked five furlongs in 58.60 seconds under jockey Eddie Castro in company with stablemate Baena at Gulfstream on Saturday. The work was his first since his arrival in south Florida earlier this month.

"According to my assistant he worked extremely well," said trainer Michael Trombetta by phone from Maryland. "If he comes back and works this well again next weekend then we'll definitely look at the Hal's Hope."

Sweetnorthernsaint rose to the top of the 3-year-old division following his big win in the Illinois Derby on April 8. He was the slight favorite over Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby on the strength of that performance, but finished seventh following an eventful trip. To his credit, Sweetnorthernsaint was able to bounce back two weeks later to finish second in the Preakness.

"He needed some time off following the tough Triple Crown run, so I gave him a full 60 days off after the Preakness," said Trombetta. "In fact, he spent 30 days in my backyard doing nothing at all during that period. He finally went back to work in late August, and thus far everything has gone perfectly. I couldn't be happier with his development since he's come back to the races."

Sweetnorthernsaint has won his two starts on the comeback trail, at Laurel and Delaware Park, by a combined 13 lengths.

"Our two immediate goals are the Hal's Hope and then the Sunshine Millions Classic later next month," said Trombetta.

The $1 million Classic will be run on Jan. 27.

Premium Tap may soon be sold

Trainer John Kimmel confirmed Saturday that negotiations are ongoing for the potential sale of Premium Tap, the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Classic who concluded his 2006 campaign with a convincing victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24.

"All I can say at the moment is that Saudi Arabian interests are negotiating to possibly purchase the horse but that nothing will happen one way or the other until next week," said Kimmel.

Premium Tap is stabled at Payson Park, where he recently returned to galloping following his 7 1/4-length victory in the Clark.

"I basically gave him three easy weeks after the Clark," said Kimmel. "He probably won't breeze until the end of the month. Right now the Dubai World Cup is the major plan on the agenda. We have no plans before that and probably won't make any until a decision is made on whether he will be sold. It is my understanding, however, that even if a sale should transpire that I will get to keep the horse in my barn."

Take D' Tour preps for Stage Door Betty

Grade 1 winner Take D' Tour worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 and galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 1:14.60 at Calder on Saturday. Trainer David Fawkes made a last-minute decision to work Take D' Tour near the conclusion of training hours because of the threat of rain the following day.

"I just decided to work her now rather than wait and wind up catching a wet track on Sunday," said Fawkes. "As things turned out she went beautifully and couldn't be doing better coming up to her race next Saturday."

Take D'Tour is expected to be the heavy favorite in the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap, one of four stakes on next Saturday's Grand Slam III card.