07/17/2008 11:00PM

Ziadie sends trio into Gene's Big Sky Stakes


MIAMI - Leading trainer Kirk Ziadie will gang up on the likely favorite, Asgoodasshelooks, when he sends out three of the 11 horses in Sunday's $55,000 Gene's Big Sky Stakes. The overnight test is carded for 3-year-old fillies going five furlongs on the turf.

Ziadie, who holds a comfortable advantage over his nearest pursuers, Eddie Plesa Jr. and Dan Hurtak, in defense of his Calder training title, entered Malitzin, Gaston A., and Rockin in the Rain for the Gene's Big Sky. Of that trio, Malitzin and Gaston A. are the strongest if the race goes as scheduled on the turf, always a question mark around these parts during this time of year.

Malitzin is the lone member of the field with more than a single victory on grass. Her two turf wins both came around two turns at Tampa Bay Downs during the spring. The daughter of Dynaformer and turf stakes winner Secret Partner has not raced since finishing sixth behind Ginger Brew following an eventful start in the Calder Oaks on April 26. A stretch-running filly, Malitzin should benefit from what figures to be a very fast pace if the field for the Gene's Big Sky holds together.

Gaston A. also has done her best on grass, as would be expected being a daughter of Concorde's Tune and a half-sister to the stakes placed and multiple turf winner I'mroyallymecke'd. Gaston A. raced on the lead when she earned her diploma going a mile on the grass here in early June, but figures to sit just off the early leaders turning back to five furlongs Sunday.

Asgoodasshelooks figures to go postward as the heavy favorite off her only previous try on grass, an impressive 6 1/4-length maiden special weight victory in her career debut June 13. The homebred daughter of West Acre wheeled right back on dirt while stretching to six furlongs three weeks later, but tired badly and dropped a tough nose decision after opening a seemingly insurmountable lead through midstretch of the high-priced optional claiming dash.

Asgoodasshelooks should have all she can handle on the lead if Freedom Afleet starts. Freedom Afleet is the lone stakes winner in the field but has never started on turf. She has kept a steady diet of stakes company this season, most recently finishing far back after chasing rapid fractions in the Grade 3 Azalea. Freedom Afleet captured the 5 1/2-furlong Snurb Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion during the spring.

Alpha Charmer works on dirt

Alpha Charmer, runaway winner of the Georgia Oaks Stakes on turf earlier in the meet, worked an easy half-mile in 50.60 seconds over the main track Friday for trainer Phil Gleaves. Alpha Charmer finished a distant third in her most recent start, the Sweettrickydancer Stakes, after that race was moved from the turf to dirt due to inclement weather.

Lopez notches riding hat trick

Apprentice Paco Lopez, who relinquished his lead in the jockey standings after missing 13 racing days due to riding suspensions that finally ended earlier this month, put himself back into contention for the title by registering a hat trick Thursday. Lopez's three wins moved him back within four victories of leading rider and defending Tropical at Calder champion Manoel Cruz entering Friday's card.