04/02/2008 11:00PM

Turf Classic lures Mott's millionaire

Email

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Silver Tree, a million-dollar earner from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and Lookinforthesecret, the top sprinter on the grounds, headline Saturday's fifth annual Florida Cup Day at Tampa Bay Downs.

Each of the six stakes on the card is restricted to Florida-breds and has a guaranteed purse of $85,000.

The 8-year-old Silver Tree makes his second start of 2008 in the 1 1/8-mile Turf Classic, and according to Mott, the old-timer still has that competitive spirit.

"He's been training well, he still loves to go to the track and train, and he's a joy to be around," Mott said from his south Florida headquarters. "We decided to send him to Tampa for a couple of reasons. Number one, the race is restricted to Florida-breds and there aren't many restricted races in this state to take advantage of, and, secondly, he won a race over that turf course. He seemed to like the footing up there, so that's another plus when you're shipping out of town."

Neil Poznansky will handle Silver Tree at 116 pounds. Although he's not well known in this country, Poznansky won the Eclipse and Sovereign awards for apprentice jockey in 1996. Since 2006 he has been mostly retired to work for Mott's stable.

"He gets on Silver Tree and several other of my better horses, and he's a very good hand on a horse," Mott said. "I have every confidence he'll give him a good ride."

Ballonenostrikes, who fell less than a length short of favored Cosmonaut in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup on the turf earlier in the meeting, tops the challengers to Silver Tree at 116 pounds with Rosemary Homeister Jr. abaord.

Fearless Eagle, from the barn of Eddie Plesa Jr., and Vanquisher, who moves up to stakes company after winning 2 of his last 3 starts, also merit respect.

In the day's other stakes:

Sprint: Lookinforthesecret moves back to the main track in search of his sixth straight win, and according to his trainer, he comes into the race in good shape.

"He's ready," said Jamie Ness. "He came out of his last in good shape and continues to train well. He just continues to amaze me."

Lookinforthesecret, a $12,500 claim last season here, has won 16 of 31 races. This winter, he has won the Pelican and Super stakes as well as the Turf Dash and a pair of allowance races.

The top threats are an uncoupled entry from trainer Kirk Ziadie - D'artagnans'spirit, a four-time winner locally, and Blue Pepsi Lodge, who goes for his fifth straight win.

Sophomore Fillies: In the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Awesome Dreamer, who faced top company in the Florida Stallion Series at Calder last fall, makes her 2008 debut for trainer Kathleen O'Connell.

Awesome Dreamer finished third in two restricted stakes at Calder, one on the dirt and the other on the turf, then was second in the $100,000 Three Ring Stakes before going to the sidelines in December.

Unfolding Wish, one of several good local runners, returns to a sprint after being unplaced in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks. She won her first three starts, including two here, before finishing a troubled third in the Gasparilla.

Turf Distaff: Christophe Clement sends out Bayou's Lassie in the Turf Distaff at 1 1/16 miles. Bayou's Lassie won a Grade 3 stakes on the main track at Calder and is 4 for 8 on turf.

Her challengers include Miss Tizzynow from the Graham Motion barn, another Clement runner, Captive Melody, and Cash's Girl, who will be making her turf debut.

Sophomore Sprint: Mr. Flatter will go for his second straight win locally in the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds. Last time out, Mr. Flatter smoked a decent field, drawing off by more than seven lengths after cutting out a half-mile in 44.88 seconds.

Wynn a Tour turns back in distance off a solid second against allowance runners and is a solid late-running threat. Repenting goes for his third straight win for the powerful Ness stable.

Sophomore Turf: El Poppie, a winner of two straight locally since he was switched to grass by trainer Lonnie Arterburn, must overcome post 9 in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.

His chief opposition figures to come from Highly Honored and El Sultry Sun, who were separated by a neck as the one-two finishers in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park a month ago.