Updated on 09/16/2011 8:37AM

Turf sprinters must be road warriors


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Tim Hills said he has been up to Canada only once before - for a wedding - but on Sunday it will be strictly business when he saddles Joe's Son Joey in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine.

The Nearctic Stakes is a Grade 2 race with a purse of $250,000 Canadian, which is approximately $162,000 American.

Because turf sprints with large purses are rare on the East Coast, and in U.S. racing in general, turf specialists must log a good amount of travel miles in search of races. Joe's Son Joey has certainly traveled his share, with his last two races coming at Gulfstream Park on April 13 and Philadelphia Park on May 27. He will van out of the Monmouth backside Friday morning. Hills said he is not worried about the nearly 12-hour van ride for Joe's Son Joey.

"He's a real pro," he said. "He has no problem shipping."

Joe's Son Joey started out sprinting on the dirt as a 3-year-old last year at Monmouth before shifting to the grass. He won at five furlongs on the turf last summer before stretching out with not much success. Since being laid up for three months in Florida, Joe's Son Joey has emerged as a bona fide turf sprinter. He finished second to Texas Glitter in the $75,000 Yankee Affair Stakes at Gulfstream in his first start off an extended layoff and then turned the tables on his foe in the $100,000 Turf Monster Handicap at Philadelphia Park. The rubber match between the two could come Sunday as Texas Glitter is also expected to run in the Nearctic.

Nick Santagata rode Joe's Son Joey in the Turf Monster and will fly up to Woodbine with Hills on Sunday for the mount. Hills said the flight should only take 90 minutes.

Although Joe's Son Joey has been sprinting on the turf at five furlongs, Hills said six furlongs may be an even better distance for the late-closing horse, especially on the Woodbine turf course that has a long stretch. Joe's Son Joey raced at six furlongs on the dirt last year.

"Six furlongs is more of a tactical race on the turf than five furlongs," Hills said. "He's worked very well since his last race and this looks like a good opportunity for him."

SUV wash costs Alvarado time

Jockey Roberto Alvarado will be out six weeks because of a broken left hand suffered while washing his Ford Expedition last Sunday morning. Alvarado was standing on the wheel to wash the windshield, and slipped off the SUV and injured his hand. He took off his Sunday mounts, but at that time, he was not expected to miss any riding days because it was believed the hand was merely swollen.

But an MRI taken Tuesday in Philadelphia revealed a broken bone on the top part of the hand. Alvarado had also missed the first two weeks of the meet because of a torn rotator cuff and slight fracture of the eighth vertebra suffered in a spill at Philadelphia Park on May 4. Alvarado, who finished sixth in the jockeys' standings last year, ranks 10th in the standings this meet with seven wins in 63 starts.

Mile workout for Key Lory

Key Lory logged his second straight impressive workout Wednesday in preparation for the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap on the turf July 6. Key Lory, trained by Dennis Manning, worked one mile in 1:39.80 on the turf course with jockey Chuck Lopez aboard.

Key Lory broke from the finish line and covered the first quarter-mile in 25.80 seconds, then five-eighths of a mile in 1:02.40, and covered seven-eighths of a mile across the wire in 1:27.40. He finished up at the three-quarters pole. Key Lory only went faster as the workout progressed, getting the final furlong in 12.20 and galloping out very strongly.

Key Lory, an 8-year-old, is undefeated on the turf with four stakes victories dating back to last year's Grade 3 Oceanport. He won the Grade 3 Red Bank on May 25 in his last start. Last Wednesday, he worked out seven furlongs on the grass in 1:27.40 around the dogs.

"He's always been a good work horse," said Lopez, who rode Key Lory in the Oceanport but has not ridden him since. Harry Vega has ridden Key Lory in his last three starts. "He went fast, but did it leisurely; he always looks like he's doing it easy."

Crash Course worked one mile in 1:40.60 on a fast track Wednesday. Crash Course, trained by Jimmy Croll, was slated to prep for the United Nations in last Saturday's Oceanport Handicap, but he and six others were scratched when that race was washed off the turf. Crash Course's connections are on the fence about running in the U.N. He has not run since winning the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida in January, and they will decide on whether to run him after his one-mile turf workout next Wednesday.

Emergency Status goes for Choice

Emergency Status, winner of the Grade 3 Jersey Derby on the turf Memorial Day, will start in the $50,000 Choice Stakes for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf this Sunday. Emergency Status had been entered in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont last Saturday but trainer Derek Ryan scratched him when the course there came up soft.

Emergency Status wired the field in the Jersey Derby at 55-1 and he should be a much lower price, probably the favorite, in the Choice Stakes. Ryan said he entered Emergency Status in the Hill Prince because he didn't feel the race came up that tough, but scratched him because the soft course would not have helped Emergency Status's front-running tactics.

Roberto Alvarado rode Emergency Status in the Jersey Derby because Jose Ferrer, the listed rider, took a spill earlier in the card. But since Alvarado injured himself, Ferrer will be back aboard on Sunday.

* Apprentice jockey Bacarra Lynn Rice left the Monmouth riding colony and returned to Philadelphia Park on Monday to ride there this summer. She had been riding at Philly Park before coming to Monmouth. Rice did well here to start the meet but recently lost many mounts.