04/06/2005 11:00PM

Turf debut makes Choose solid pick in Yankee Affair

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Anybody who watched Choose make his turf debut here last month will be hard pressed to bet against him in Saturday's $50,000 Yankee Affair Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 11-race program also features the return of Miss Matched, a Grade 2-placed 3-year-old filly, in an allowance race later on the card.

was hung five wide throughout a five-furlong open allowance dash here on March 16, but despite the loss of ground was able to dead heat with Tacirring for first in a race that established a course record of 54.89 seconds. The victory was the fifth in nine career starts for Choose, who was overmatched against the likes of Forest Danger and Saratoga County in two starts on dirt here earlier in the session.

"His first turf start was a big success," said John Forbes, who trains Choose for owner James Dinan. "He's a gritty, tough little horse who runs hard and has been doing well. I expect him to run well again Saturday."

Choose will carry 118 pounds under the allowance conditions of the five-furlong Yankee Affair, with regular rider Tommy Turner again in the saddle.

A pair of speedsters coming off easy five-furlong grass wins, Southern Cal and Procreate, may prove the ones to beat over a turf course that has favored speed in sprint races here this winter.

turned back off a steady diet of longer races to beat a field of $50,000 claiming foes by three lengths just eight days earlier, drawing off in the final furlong despite bearing out entering the stretch. The win was the third in six turf starts for Southern Cal, a homebred son of Halo's Image who has finished worse than second just once on grass.

also led throughout, despite stumbling at the break, to post a three-length victory over starter allowance company March 24 in his local turf debut. The win was the second in as many starts here this winter for Procreate, a 7-year-old son of Mt. Livermore.

Placido also stumbled at the gate in his last outing, but unlike Procreate could not recover in time. Placido's third-place finish behind Choose and Tacirring here last month halted a three-race win streak for Placido that began at Calder on Jan. 2.

True Love's Secret, another victimized by an unlucky start, could not menace Southern Cal in the pair's previous encounter, but can be a late factor with a luckier beginning in the Yankee Affair.

Completing the lineup are Little Red Rocket, Callthesheriff, Shake the Bank, Lotsa Macho, and Scattering Breezes.