01/25/2011 11:38AM

Watch out for newcomers in Gulfstream turf dash


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Gulfstream Park turf course will play host to a pair of allowance races on Thursday. The best and easily most appealing of the pair goes as the fourth race, a five-furlong dash to be decided under second-level optional claiming conditions.

Deciding upon a favorite let alone picking the winner will be a chore for the best of handicappers, who are faced with a 10-horse field, a handful of whom have already had a race over the course this meet.

Two contenders who have never seen the local strip, Tobes the Man and Drunken Love, may prove the ones to beat.

Tobes the Man is the least experienced member of the field but could also be the most promising. The 4-year-old son of Concorde’s Tune has captured two of his three career starts but has not started since running away from entry-level allowance horses to a four-length victory at Laurel when making his turf debut in August. Tobes the Man has been working well over the main track since arriving in south Florida last month.

Drunken Love did the majority of his racing over the artificial surface at Woodbine in 2010. His lone try over dirt came at Fort Erie and resulted in one of his best performances of the year, a 6 1/4-length stakes victory for which he earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Drunken Love’s only start on grass also came at Fort Erie and ended with similar results, an overnight stakes truimph during the summer of 2009.

Havelock returns locally for the first time since overcoming a poor start and tough trip to win his maiden at first asking by a nose 11 months earlier. Havelock won once in four subsequent starts but has not raced since June.

Coach Billy G., Our Champion, Rusty Charlie, Dream of Atlantis and Our Friend Harvey all started over this course earlier this month.

Coach Billy G. lost his best chance when stumbling badly leaving the gate of a similarly conditioned allowance dash on Jan. 14. Our Champion will be turning back to a sprint off a steady diet of two-turn races. He was stakes-placed here last winter in the Grade 3 Palm Beach.

Rusty Charlie and Our Friend Harvey finished second and third against open $50,000 claimers on Jan. 12. Rusty Charlie was bogged down a bit in traffic on a couple of occasions in a race won by stablemate Triple E.