05/15/2007 11:00PM

Tomlinson listening to Kettleoneup


BALTIMORE - In his 17-year training career, Michael Tomlinson has never run a horse at Pimlico Race Course. He appears ready to make a smashing debut when he ships in Kettleoneup for Friday's Grade 2, $200,000 Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap at Old Hilltop.

Kettleoneup is one of 12 fillies and mares in the Grade 2 race, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the main track. But some are expected to scratch, including morning-line favorite Sugar Shake, who is not Breeders' Cup eligible and thus would be running for only half the duPont purse. She likely will run in Saturday's Shuvee at Belmont.

Tomlinson, a Kentucky-based trainer, wasn't necessarily looking to run in the duPont. But Kettleoneup came out of her dominant victory in last month's Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in such good shape, he figured why leave her in the barn.

"She was touting us so hard, she come out of that race so good, it just absolutely made us look for another option," said Tomlinson, who was going to wait for the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill on June 16. "Timing-wise, this race was perfect; it gives us 30 days to the Fleur de Lis."

Kettleoneup, a daughter of Victory Gallop, has finished first or second in 9 of her 11 starts. Tomlinson added blinkers to Kettleoneup prior to the Azeri Breeders' Cup, a race she lost by a head to the talented India. Then Kettleoneup romped in the Sixty Sails.

"[The blinkers] seem to focus her a little more," he said. "She doesn't seem to want to take herself quite as far back as she normally would without them."

Even without Sugar Shake in the field, there appears to be enough speed to set things up for Kettleoneup, who breaks from post 9 under Calvin Borel.

Larry Jones, the trainer of Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun, will send out Gasia in the duPont. In two starts this year, Gasia got used in a speed duel in the Azeri then won the Bayakoa from off the pace.

Trainer Allen Jerkens will ship in Grade 1 winner Swap Fliparoo. Best known as a closing sprinter, Swap Fliparoo ran third behind stablemate Miss Shop in the 1 1/8-mile Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream. Leah's Secret, who won the Anne Arundel at a one-turn mile at Laurel last fall, tries two turns for the first time.