Updated on 09/16/2011 7:40AM

Ward to Frankel: You'll be sorry

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - John Ward did a little politicking Wednesday morning while giving trainer Bobby Frankel food for thought regarding his plans to ship Lido Palace cross-country for next month's Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

Ward, trainer of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner and Donn probable Monarchos, believes Frankel would be making a mistake by shipping Lido Palace to Gulfstream Park because Ward expects Lido Palace will have to carry significantly more weight than Monarchos not only in the Donn, but possibly in future handicap races throughout the year. Ward is already planning on running Monarchos in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.

The Donn is scheduled for Feb. 9. Weights, which will be determined by racing secretary Dave Bailey, are due out on Feb. 2.

"I think he's risking a lot," Ward said outside his barn here. "It'll put him in at such a high weight compared to everybody else in the field and it would work to our advantage. It should be a great spread. I haven't won since last May and his horse has won multiple Grade 1's. If he beats us in the Donn, that'll make the spread even bigger in the Santa Anita Handicap, which I will definitely appreciate. There'll be such a big spread between the two of us, I might even pay his plane ticket."

Ward reasons that Lido Palace, who won Whitney Handicap and the Woodward - both Grade 1 events last summer - should be assigned 124 or 125 pounds for the Donn. He added that Monarchos should get in at 114. Monarchos has not run since finishing third in the Belmont Stakes.

When it was suggested to Ward that Lido Palace might not come if there was a 10-pound weight spread between the two horses, Ward said, "Doesn't matter. He's already subjected himself to the pen of the handicapper. If he beats me, what kind of spread will there be going into the Santa Anita Handicap? If I beat him they can only up me a pound or two.'

"Who's going to ride Red Bullet?

Frankel's decision to ship Lido Palace east for the Donn will send jockey agents flocking to Joe Orseno's barn in the coming days looking to pick up the choice mount aboard Red Bullet.

Jerry Bailey guided Red Bullet to a second-place finish behind Sir Bear in last Saturday's Skip Away Handicap. He is also the regular rider for Lido Palace, with whom he won both the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes last season.

Bailey's agent, Ron Anderson, confirmed Wednesday that his rider will be on Lido Palace in the Donn.

"Jerry came by to see me this morning [Wednesday] and said he'd only just heard himself that Lido Palace was coming here for the Donn," said Orseno. "More important, he also said Red Bullet felt like the Red Bullet of old in the Skip Away. I'm sure there will be plenty of good jockeys available to choose from if need be, if not here then in New York or California.

"Frankly, I'm more concerned about losing Jerry as my rider than facing Lido Palace in the Donn," Orseno said. "He's done a lot of traveling, going to Japan and back, and that kind of trip tends to knock a horse out. And mine has already had a race under his belt over this track for the Donn."

Creme Fraiche possibility for Sir Bear

Al Smollin, who along with his wife, Barbara, owns and bred Skip Away winner Sir Bear, said it is very unlikely the 9-year-old will wheel back in the Donn.

"That might be a bit soon coming off a hard race like he had on Saturday," said Smollin. "In fact I'm not sure if we'll run him back in the Gulfstream Park Handicap either. We might just take the easier route and go for the Creme Fraiche," a Grade 3 race on March 10.

Sir Bear is the defending champion in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Pleasant Divorce back to the turf

Trainer John Scanlan doesn't subscribe to the axiom, "`If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

After watching Pleasant Divorce finish first or second in four consecutive dirt races, the Maryland-based Scanlan has shipped his 4-year-old colt to south Florida for Sunday's $100,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

"The horse is doing so good on dirt let's try him on turf, maybe he'll even do better," Scanlan said Wednesday after watching Pleasant Divorce gallop over Gulfstream's turf course. "If it comes off the turf, I'm 1-9 in a three-horse field."

Pleasant Divorce won three optional claiming races at Laurel Park before finishing second in the Grade 3 Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 29. Scanlan maintains that Pleasant Divorce could have won the Gallant Fox had he not encountered traffic trouble entering the stretch, although he was beaten almost three lengths.

Scanlan believes the 1 3/8 miles of the Mac Diarmida will be an edge for Pleasant Divorce. He also said if Pleasant Divorce doesn't handle the turf, the race would serve as a good prep for the Gulfstream Park Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on March 30.

"The further he goes the better," Scanlan said.

Early in his career, Pleasant Divorce twice tried the turf, finishing eighth after getting left at the gate in his debut and finishing second, beaten a neck, in his next start.

"`It took this horse a lot longer to catch on to what he had to for a living than other horses," Scanlan said.

Hunt returns with a winner

Jockey Charlene Hunt, sidelined the past four weeks to undergo minor surgery that included laser eye surgery, wasted little time getting back to the winner's circle when she guided Nightingale to an upset victory in Wednesday's second race.

Hunt suffered through a roller coaster meet as an apprentice here last winter when she won five races but lost two other victories via disqualifications.

"I thought for a bug rider coming into a meet like this I did pretty well last year, considering I lost 24 days due to suspensions," said Hunt. "And I've really been looking forward to riding here again this winter. That's why I sacrificed the final month of the Tropical meet to have the surgery so I could ride throughout Gulfstream."

Hunt has fared well since losing her bug, wining 15 races from 126 starts at the Tropical meet before stopping to undergo surgery.

"I'm not cocky but I feel comfortable about how I'll do at this meet," Hunt said. "I have several clients to ride for and I don't think it will be as tough as everyone thinks. And winning with just my third mount is a big plus."

Aguilar still recuperating

Jockey Manny Aguilar, injured in a frightening spill during the running of last Friday's Escena Stakes, will remain sidelined until Wednesday, according to his agent, Manny Marrero. Aguilar was aboard Halo Reality, who clipped heels and lost her rider entering the clubhouse turn of the Escena.

"He has a little crack in his skull from getting kicked in the helmet," said Marrero. "He also suffered a pulled muscle in his left arm when the paramedics rolled him onto the stretcher to get him out of the way of the horses pulling up and that's what's actually keeping him from riding right now."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch