01/05/2009 12:00AM

Target set for Notonthesamepage

Bob Coglianese
Notonthesamepage leads the field into the stretch of the Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream on Saturday. He won the race by 8 1/4 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 115, making him the fastest 3-year-old in the country at this early stage of the season

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Less than 24 hours after Notonthesamepage dominated the Spectacular Bid Stakes on Saturday's opening-day program, a decision has already been reached on where the speedy 3-year-old will start next. And, under the circumstances, the choice was really a no-brainer.

"He'll run in the Fountain of Youth," trainer Wesley Ward said Sunday morning.

Notonthesamepage ran away from his seven rivals to win the six-furlong Spectacular Bid by 8 1/4 lengths, while coming within .02 of a second of the track record. The performance earned him a 115 Beyer Speed Figure and made him, at least temporarily, the fastest 3-year-old in the country.

"We want to try to stretch him out, and the Fountain of Youth is at a mile this year, which should be perfect," Ward said. "The timing is also good, since I always like to give my horses at least four or five weeks off after a big race. And that certainly was a big race he ran here yesterday."

The Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, the final major local prep for the Grade 1 Florida Derby, will be run Feb. 28. The race will be decided at a mile for the first time in its long and storied history this winter.

Ward was one of four trainers who won two races during the opening weekend, along with George Weaver, Ken McPeek, and Todd Pletcher.

Bullsbay impresses Motion

Trainer Graham Motion said he couldn't have been more pleased with Bullsbay's second-place finish behind Delightful Kiss in Saturday's Grade 3 Hal's Hope. Bullsbay was making his graded stakes debut in the Hal's Hope, following a pair of impressive allowance wins to close out his 2008 campaign at Churchill Downs.

Bullsbay, who broke from post 13 in the 14-horse lineup, was shuffled back in the pack during the middle stages of the one-mile Hal's Hope before finishing with good energy under jockey Julian Leparoux to beat all but the fast-closing Delightful Kiss, who powered down the stretch to a three-length victory.

"I thought he ran great," Motion said. "The post hurt him, and he got into some trouble, but we probably weren't going to beat the winner anyway."

Motion said he's considering bringing Bullsbay back in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Jan. 31.

"We'll see how he does over the next couple of weeks, but I might bring him back in the Donn," Motion said. "At least we won't have to face Delightful Kiss again, although I'm sure there will be some other tough ones in there."

Delightful Kiss is slated to make his next start one week earlier in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic.

Motion also said he's planning on bringing the 10-year-old Better Talk Now down to his winter base at Payson Park sometime during the next several weeks.

"He's back jogging now at Fair Hill, but I'll probably ship him down here with me later this month," he said.

Timber Reserve dealing with problem

Trainer John Kimmel had hoped to run Timber Reserve in the Hal's Hope as a possible prelude to a start in the Donn, but those plans were put on hold due to a nagging respiratory problem that first developed during the fall.

"He got sick right before the Clark," Kimmel said. "I thought he was over it, but after we worked him here a couple of weeks ago it was obvious he still wasn't 100 percent. That cost us a chance to run in the Hal's Hope and probably of being ready for the Donn as well."

Timber Reserve, 5, winner of the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in his 3-year-old finale, went to the sidelines following a disappointing effort in the 2008 Hal's Hope. He looked like his old self once again late in the year after winning an allowance race at Saratoga and finishing third in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup.

Kimmel also reports that his top 3-year-old prospect Break Water Edison couldn't be doing better and is progressing toward his 2009 debut, which will likely come in the Grade 2 Hutcheson here on Jan. 30. Break Water Edison captured the Grade 3 Nashua in his 2-year-old finale.

"He's up at Payson right now and has put on 50 pounds since he's gotten down here," Kimmel said. "He's already got a good bottom on him, and I'll probably bring him into Gulfstream a couple of weeks before the Hutcheson to give him an opportunity to work over the track."

Plesa and Cruz win titles

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and jockey Manoel Cruz clinched their third Tropical at Calder championships and did it in style with big days on Friday's closing card of the 2008-09 meet.

Plesa won a pair of races on closing day to clinch the trainer's crown 20-17 over runner-up Bill White. David Fawkes finished third with 14 winners. Plesa took back-to-back Tropical titles in 2002 and 2003.

Cruz led all riders for the second year in a row and third time in the last four seasons after posting 64 victories, including four on the final card. He was followed by Elvis Trujillo (48) and Javier Santiago (31).

Plesa, whose Bee Cee Cee finished third behind Notonthesamepage in the Spectacular Bid, will have several of his big guns in action later this month, including Gottcha Gold in the Sunshine Classic and the red-hot Yesbyjimminy in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.