01/04/2007 12:00AM

Trombetta hopes for a hot time

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Michael Trombetta decided to send a string of his large and successful stable to south Florida for the first time this winter. And thus far he has only one complaint.

"It's a little too hot down here," he said with a smile.

Trombetta is hoping things will be even hotter around his barn on Saturday when he sends out top contenders Sweetnorthernsaint in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap and Weigelia in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap.

"I wanted to branch out down here, try a new place and see where it takes us," said Trombetta, who left more than 30 horses behind at Laurel. "It's an opportunity for me, and it also helps make the winter go a little quicker."

Sweetnorthernsaint, who finished a troubled seventh as the 5-1 favorite in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness, returned from a summer freshening to score a pair of easy wins prior to shipping here in mid-December.

"It takes horses a little while to get used to the heat down here, and I'm glad we brought the horses down early," said Trombetta, who is using the Hal's Hope as a prep for the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 27 for Sweetnorthernsaint.

Weigelia is coming off an easy 4 1/4-length victory in Calder's Grade 3 Kenny Noe Handicap, and Trombetta is hopeful his speedster will be able to transfer his excellent Calder form to the Gulfstream surface.

"Like I've said before, he's a nice horse everywhere else and an exceptional horse at Calder," said Trombetta. "I think he ran over the old Gulfstream surface a couple of times but not over this new one yet, although he seems to like this one since he's gotten down here. He likes any track that's firm and fast."

Easy work for Miesque's Approval

Miesque's Approval breezed Thursday at Calder, marking the horse's fourth serious work since his upset victory in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Mile. The 8-year-old horse is gearing up for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 27 at Santa Anita, and went an easy half-mile in 50.60 seconds over a fast main track.

Trainer Marty Wolfson said one major enticement to running in the Sunshine Millions Turf, which Miesque's Approval won at 48-1 last year at Gulfstream, is the prospect of facing Lava Man, the California standout who last year swept the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic.

"I think it would made a great race," said Wolfson.

Forbidden Bear not running Sunday

Forbidden Bear is among the nominees for Sunday's Spectacular Bid Stakes, but will pass the race and instead point for the Sunshine Millions Dash.

Forbidden Bear, 3, rallied to an impressive three-length victory in his only start, which came over Woodbine's Polytrack on Nov. 30. He worked seven furlongs over the Palm Meadows turf course in 1:07 on Wednesday.

"He's got a turf pedigree, and someday we'll give him a whirl on the grass," said trainer Reade Baker, who was stabled at Gulfstream last year but moved to Palm Meadows this winter.

"He missed the break and was about eight wide around the turn in his first start and coasted in. He was pretty impressive, and I think he's going to be a really nice horse."

Baker, the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top trainer in 2005 and runner-up for the honor last year, also has stakes winners Bear's Kid and Vestrey Lady among the 10 horses he's stabling at Palm Meadows this winter.

Straight Faced heads Spectacular Bid

A small field is likely for the Spectacular Bid, headed by the Calder-based Straight Faced, who won his first four starts before finishing a tiring fourth in his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality Stakes on Oct. 14.

Others expected to start are James Wilfred, Buffalo Man, Voodoouthinkur, and one or more from trainer Anthony Sciametta Jr.'s trio of nominees Cowtown Cat, Out of Gwedda, and Storm Trust. Reata's Rocket is also listed as a possible starter.

Kenneally high on Kelly's Landing

Eddie Kenneally traveled south from Kentucky a happy man. Kenneally, a 40-year-old native of Ireland, is coming off easily the best year of his 15-year training career in the United States. His 2006 stable earnings of $1,786,418 nearly doubled his previous high, set in 2005.

While taking 18 horses to the Palm Meadows Training Center, Kenneally left another 12 behind at Turfway Park on his home circuit in Kentucky. The first major bullet that Kenneally will shoot in the new Gulfstream Park meet is Kelly's Landing, a multiple graded winner who figures as a major contender Saturday in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap.

Kelly's Landing finished 10th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after starting from the outside post in a field of 14. "The post hurt because it seemed like the track wasn't favoring horses out in the middle of the track," said Kenneally.

Kenneally pointed out that Kelly's Landing, an earner of nearly $500,000, loves the Gulfstream course, which was installed prior to the 2005 meet. Kelly's Landing won an allowance race in each of the last two meets here.

"He came out of the Breeders' Cup super, and he runs very well fresh," Kenneally said. "I'm looking for a big effort Saturday."

- additional reporting by Marty McGee