09/21/2009 11:00PM

Vivian again adept at picking spot


MIAMI - Trainer Dave Vivian knows a good horse when he sees one. He also knows a good spot when he finds one for his good horse. That combination worked out just perfectly last Saturday for Vivian and Soldier's Dancer, who easily defended his title in Philadelphia Park's $250,000 President's Cup with a come-from-behind three-length victory under regular rider Manoel Cruz.

"That was a sweet spot to fall into," admitted Vivian, who trains Soldier's Dancer for owner Herman Heinlein. "For that kind of money you'd have thought there would have been 12 horses in there, not six. But I'm not complaining, that's for sure."

Although Soldier's Dancer appeared to have a decided edge over his five rivals in the President's Cup, Vivian still had to worry about the lack of pace in the race for his late-running gelding. But even with an opening half-mile run in a trotter-like 53.46 seconds and six furlongs in 1:18.10, Soldier's Dancer had more than enough class to overtake the leader readily near midstretch and win going away.

"A hundred people must have come up to me before the race and asked me what instructions I was going to give my rider because of the lack of pace in the field," said Vivian. "And I told them all the same thing. I brought Manny up because he is a good rider, so I don't have to give him any orders. He knew there was no speed in there, kept him close and it worked out fine."

Although not the prettiest mover in the world when he trains in the morning, Soldier's Dancer has been good enough in the afternoon for Vivian and Heinlein to have amassed more than $1.4 million in earnings. Soldier's Dancer earned his biggest payday earlier this year by shipping to Santa Anita to capture the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf.

"He's a fantastic horse," said Vivian. "And everything just fell into place for us last weekend."

Vivian will be busy on the local front on Saturday when he sends out his newest turf star, Grand Cash, as the likely favorite in the $75,000 Needles, along with his newest acquisition, Golden Spikes, in a very competitive allowance race later on the 13-race card.

Grand Cash has not started since rallying to a half-length victory in the American Dreamer on July 11, the second stakes tally in the last three starts for Grand Cash, a 3-year-old son of Belong to Me.

"He hasn't run in a couple of months because there just haven't been any spots for him, but I've been laying him on the fence in the morning, so fitness won't be an issue," said Vivian. "He just needs some pace."

Vivian got Golden Spikes, a Grade 2 winner, into his barn earlier this summer and will be sending him out to battle for the first time on Saturday. Golden Spikes has not started since finishing fifth under allowance conditions at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. Golden Spikes won the Grade 2 Carry Back here last summer.

"He came in here in good shape and is training well," said Vivian, who sent out Golden Spikes to post a pair of bullet five-furlong works earlier this month. "I don't think he'll need a race, because he gallops so aggressively between works. If it was a graded stakes he might come up a little short, but with these horses he should have no excuse."

Festival Preview takes shape

The Needles is one of four stakes worth $75,000 on Saturday's Festival Preview card and drew a well-matched field of nine that also includes Cinnamon Road, Livingston Street, and the improving Regis.

The Judy's Red Shoes, the filly counterpart to the Needles, lured a full field of 12 plus a couple of also-eligibles and would actually be a strong race if it comes off the turf, with Royal Card, Sweet Repent, Garter Belt, and Hopeful Image in the lineup.

Two-year-olds will take center stage on Saturday in the Foolish Pleasure and Brave Raj stakes, both carded at a mile and 70 yards.

Bim Bam, who has futilely chased home division leaders Jackson Bend and Mr. Green in the opening legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes, will stretch out around two turns for the first time and face a group that includes Seacliff winner Wave Me By and the improving Thank U Philippe in the Foolish Pleasure.

Sweetlalabye and Rosebud's Ridge, winners of the opening legs of the filly division of the stallion series, will face off again in the Brave Raj. They will take on Gator Brew and The Isabella Angel, who finished noses apart in that order in the one-mile Lindsay's Frolic Stakes on Aug. 29.

Promising youngsters score

A couple of less-experienced 2-year-olds who could prove formidable in stakes endeavors here later this season registered impressive maiden wins on Sunday. Fly by Phil, a homebred son of Act of Duty trained by Kathleen O'Connell, cruised to an easy 11-length victory going a mile, while earlier in the card Simplifying withstood an early pace duel to earn his diploma at second asking for Steve DiMauro. Both horses are eligible for the $400,000 In Reality Stakes on Oct. 17.

* Gator Brew, who won her maiden in the Lindsay Frolic, blew out for the Brave Raj with an easy half-mile in 50.40 seconds in company with stablemate Tillie the Tigress on Tuesday. Tillie the Tigress, a distant fourth in the Susan's Girl, will also compete in the Brave Raj. Both horses are trained by Bill White.