04/06/2010 12:00AM

United States clashes with Cuba


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - United States will try to defeat Cuba on Thursday. Not on a baseball field, in a basketball arena, soccer stadium, or even the boxing ring. This particular match-up will take place on the racetrack, where the lightly raced and regally bred 4-year-old United States meets the 9-year-old Cuba at a mile in a first-level optional $40,000 claimer that goes as race 3 on a nine-race program at Gulfstream Park.

United States, a $2 million yearling purchase by owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier at the 2007 Keeneland September sales, has started just twice in his career. A son of A.P. Indy, United States finished a troubled third when debuting at seven furlongs here on Feb. 13 before returning four weeks later to register an impressive nine- length maiden special weight victory when stretched to a mile for the first time by trainer Todd Pletcher.

"A mile is not really far enough. I'd rather run him a mile and one-eighth, but this was our only option right now," said Pletcher. "He got outsprinted a little the first time and got some dirt in his face and it took him a little time to settle and then he improved the second time for having a race. He's giving up a lot of seasoning to most of the horses in this field. That's always a concern. But if he's to continue to step forward he has to be able to handle these types of assignments."

Cuba was claimed for $32,000 by trainer Steve DiMauro from his most recent start, a third-place finish on Feb. 25. The old pro, who has won 13 races and earned more than $750,000, seeks his first win since defeating $25,000 starter allowance company here 15 months ago. Cuba registered his most noteworthy victory in the 2008 Maryland Million Classic.

Rehoboth, a multiple stakes winner earlier in his career, makes his second start since being haltered for $32,000 by trainer Peter Walder out of his 2010 debut in January. The 7-year-old's finest hour came at Calder on Nov. 11, 2006, when he captured the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic.

Causeway's Kin, like United States, is an up and coming 4-year-old who also exits an easy maiden special weight victory going a mile earlier in the meet.

Lonely Highway, who earned a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure defeating $25,000 claiming opposition in the slop on Feb. 24, and Star Player round out the six-horse field.