01/17/2007 12:00AM

Turf showdown in the offing

Email
Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Miesque's Approval, here winning the Breeders' Cup Mile, will pass on the Sunshine Millions Turf and point to the Feb. 3 Canadian Turf, where he could meet English Channel.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Donn Handicap Day is already expected to feature likely Horse of the Year Invasor and top 3-year-old prospect Nobiz Like Shobiz, and it may get even better now that trainer Marty Wolfson is pointing Breeders' Cup Mile winner Miesque's Approval to the $100,000 Canadian Turf Handicap. The card will be run Feb. 3.

Wolfson had planned to send Miesque's Approval in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf one week earlier at Santa Anita, where the competition was expected to include Lava Man. But those plans changed after Wolfson was informed Miesque's Approval would be kept in training for another year.

"After the Breeders' Cup, we thought he might be sold as a stud prospect and the Sunshine Millions would be his last race," said Wolfson, who trains Miesque's Approval for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. "But since then, it's been decided to race him another year, and as a result I don't want to start out the season with a 3,000-mile trip, because he'll be doing plenty of shipping as the season goes on. Besides, right now, graded black type is more important than money."

The Canadian Turf is a Grade 3 race; the Sunshine Millions Turf is ungraded.

If Miesque's Approval goes in the Canadian Turf, he could have a rematch with English Channel, a fellow Eclipse Award turf finalist. Trainer Todd Pletcher said earlier this week that he may use the Canadian Turf as a prep for the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 29 for English Channel. English Channel beat Miesque's Approval by three-quarters of a length in last year's Canadian Turf.

With Miesque's Approval now passing the Sunshine Millions Turf, his older half-brother Revved Up could prove a strong replacement. A 9-year-old homebred, Revved Up is trained by Christophe Clement.

Splendid Blended retired at 5

Any question as to whether Splendid Blended would start in Saturday's Grade 3 First Lady Handicap was answered over the weekend by trainer Bill Mott, who announced her retirement.

"She's just wasn't doing good enough to make the race, and she was only going to run once more before being bred, so we decided to retire her," said Mott, who trained Splendid Blended for owner Peter Vegso. "She ran some big races during her career. She's also a big, good-looking mare, and hopefully she'll make a nice broodmare."

A 5-year-old homebred, Splendid Blended won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at 2 and Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at 3. She returned from an 18 1/2-month layoff to win two stakes in 2006, including the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap here last winter.

Malibu Mint works with eye on First Lady

One Grade 1 winner who will likely run in the First Lady is Malibu Mint, who worked a half-mile in 47.80 seconds here Sunday morning. A 5-year-old trained by James Chapman, Malibu Mint captured the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder last summer and concluded her campaign by winning the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct via the disqualification of Rahys' Appeal.

Premium Tap breezes half-mile

Premium Tap had his first work over the local strip since returning to south Florida for the winter, breezing an easy half-mile in 48.60 on Sunday. One of three finalists for an Eclipse Award in the older male category, Premium Tap remains a possible starter along with Invasor in the Grade 1 Donn.

Albertrani has high praise for Came to Pass

Trainer Tom Albertrani paid his promising 3-year-old Came to Pass the ultimate compliment shortly after Came to Pass overcame a slow start to win his career debut in impressive fashion here Saturday. Asked if the performance was reminiscent of Songster's brilliant debut win here a year earlier, Albertrani smiled and simply said, "No, Bernardini's."

Actually, Bernardini lost his career debut here during the opening week of the 2006 meet before returning eight weeks later to win his maiden by nearly eight lengths. But Albertrani's point was clear.

"Came to Pass has always showed a lot of talent," said Albertrani. "I thought of the dozen or so 3-year-olds I have in training at Payson, he was my best one going into the season, which is why we nominated him to all the early bird stakes closings before he had even started. He's got a nice, long, beautiful stride, and he showed it today, overcoming a tough start from the rail to win like he did."

Albertrani said Came to Pass is nominated to the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 27, but said that would probably be bringing him back a little too soon.

"We'll most likely look to stretch him out for his next start, but exactly when or where that might be is still uncertain," said Albertrani.

Songster ran seven furlongs in 1:21.59 when he won his career debut here last January and went on to win a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 stakes, but he has not started since finishing fifth in the King's Bishop at Saratoga. Albertrani said he gave Songster a break at the end of the summer, but that Songster is back at Payson and should be ready to run by the end of the spring.

Albertrani also reported that Deputy Glitters, who won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby before finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby, has been breezing at Payson, but that no race has been picked out for him yet.

Three wins already for DiMauro

Steve DiMauro has gotten off to the best start of all the Calder-based trainers during the opening two weeks of the Gulfstream meet. He sent out his third winner from only five starters when Dance Slightly got up to beat Uchita in the final strides to win Sunday's third race. Unfortunately for DiMauro, one of his two losers thus far was Straight Faced, a multiple stakes winner who finished a tiring fifth in the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes.

* J'Ray worked five furlongs in 48.60 over the Palm Meadows turf course on Monday. It was the fastest of 31 recorded works at the distance on that morning's tab. J'Ray is expected to make her next start in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Handicap on Feb. 3.