03/18/2008 11:00PM

Xchanger to return in sprint


Philadelphia Park didn't quite succeed in luring Xchanger from Maryland to make his 4-year-old debut earlier this week, but only because the multiple stakes winner isn't quite ready to race.

Trainer Mark Shuman nominated Xchanger to the $75,000 Bensalem, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes that was run Tuesday. Shuman reluctantly decided to wait for another spot, however.

"I liked this race because I do want to bring him back in a sprint, where he's 2 for 2 lifetime," Shuman said late last week, "but he's still about 30 days away from being ready to race."

Xchanger, who won the Grade 3 Barbaro at Delaware Park and the $100,000 Federico Tesio at Pimlico last year, and just missed in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Philly Park, has been off since finishing a distant fourth to Daaher in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 24.

He has been working over the synthetic Tapeta surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., including a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.80 last Saturday.

Xchanger's familiarity with Tapeta is a strong reason Shuman said he is considering bringing the colt to Kentucky to make his first start of 2008 over the Polytrack at Keeneland's spring meet.

Two possibilities are a six-furlong, $100,000 optional claiming race, also open to horses who haven't won $35,000 twice since Sept. 3, on April 9, and the Gradeo2 Commonwealth at seven furlongs on April 12.

Xchanger hasn't sprinted since winning his career debut going 5o1/2 furlongs and the Grade 3 Sapling at six furlongs as a 2-year-old in the summer of 2006 at Monmouth Park.

* Maryland shipper Eternal Star ($11) took the lead at the eighth pole and drew off by 2 3/4 lengths in Tuesday's Bensalem Stakes.

A 4-year-old colt ridden by Julien Pimentel for trainer Mike Trombetta and owners Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, Eternal Star is now 5 for 10 lifetime and 2 for 2 in 2008. He covered 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.80 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.