01/26/2009 12:00AM

Zito: Rocketing Returns up to task

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Break Water Edison

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Seven 3-year-olds, several of whom are already on the Kentucky Derby trail, will square off here at Gulfstream Park on Friday in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes.

Graded stakes winners Break Water Edison and Capt. Candyman Can will break from post positions 1 and 3, respectively, in a field that also lured Nashua runner-up Hello Broadway, Rocketing Returns, Z Day, Bee Cee Cee, and Salo Jak.

Capt. Candyman Can worked a half-mile in 49.75 seconds at Palm Meadows on Monday.

The Hutcheson is one of two Grade 2, $150,000 stakes on Friday's card along with its filly counterpart, the Forward Gal. Both races will be decided at seven furlongs. Gemswick Park and Frolic's Dream, first and third in the Grade 3 Old Hat earlier in the meet, will renew acquaintances in the Forward Gal against a group that also includes a pair of fillies who competed in the 2008 Breeders' Cup, C. S. Silk and Renda.

While Break Water Edison, Capt. Candyman Can, and Hello Broadway are already graded stakes veterans, trainer Nick Zito is hopeful his lightly raced but very promising Rocketing Returns can prove he fits in the mix. A son of Gone West, he has captured 2 of his 3 starts, with his lone setback a second-place finish that followed a tardy beginning in his debut last summer at Saratoga.

"I think this is the way to go with him, running in the Hutcheson instead of the Holy Bull on Saturday," said Zito, who trains Rocketing Returns for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Planation. "I love the fact he had that last race at Calder. It does horses really good to have a start over that track, and I really think he has a chance to improve and be a nice horse. And hopefully he'll prove down the road that he's going to be more than just a sprinter."

Dutrow sees big figure

Trainer Rick Dutrow is hoping the same thing about This Ones for Phil, who turned in a sensational performance winning Saturday's Sunshine Millions Dash. The effort earned This Ones for Phil a Beyer Speed Figure of 117.

"Time to sell, babe," was Dutrow's first comment when informed of the Beyer on Sunday morning.

This Ones for Phil was purchased privately by owner Paul Pompa Jr. and turned over to Dutrow last month.

His best previous Beyer had been an 81 earned last July in his maiden win.

When asked to explain This Ones for Phil's sudden improvement, Dutrow said one of the answers could be found in the little black bag sitting just outside the tack room. He then reached into his bag and pulled out . . . his training chart.

"I decided not to pound on him in the morning," he said. "See the chart. I just jogged him between breezes, then blew him out a little bit the morning of the race. He also just might like this track."

Dutrow said he has picked out the one-mile Fountain of Youth for This Ones for Phil's next start. That sets up the possibility of an intriguing match against Notonthesamepage, who had been the fastest 3-year-old in the country with a 115 Beyer Figure earned for his victory in the Spectacular Bid Stakes before being displaced by This Ones for Phil on Saturday.

Pick Six a go for Turf Handicap

The Gulfstream Park turf course was open for business and busier than usual on Sunday morning, with five horses getting officially timed workouts and more than a half-dozen others breezing but not making time. The temporary rail was out more than 60 feet, skewing the times to the point that a 53.20-second half-mile clocking posted by Pick Six was the fastest of the day.

No matter the time, the work was good enough to prompt trainer Shug McGaughey to confirm Pick Six as a starter in Sunday's Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

"That looked good to me," McGaughey said after the work.

Pick Six is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Ft. Lauderdale earlier in the meet.

"I had to put some works together in a hurry, and he wasn't all the way there for that race," McGaughey explained.

Pick Six will be among the outsiders in a stellar field for the Gulfstream Park Turf that could also include Kip Deville, Court Vision and Red Rocks.

One horse who will not run in the Gulfstream Park Turf is Gio Ponti, winner of Santa Anita's Grade 3 Sir Beaufort in his 2008 finale. Trainer Christophe Clement nominated Gio Ponti to the race but said he will keep him on the West Coast for the Grade 1 Strub at Santa Anita on Feb. 7.

Other notables to work over the local turf course Sunday included Waquoit's Love (four furlongs in 54.40 seconds), the recent winner of the Marshua's River Stakes, and Backseat Rhythm (four furlongs in 54.80).

Rider wins special raffle prize

When exercise/pony rider Lorna Chavez found out a painting by artist Nick Martinez called "Curlin at Saratoga" was being raffled off at Gulfstream Park on Saturday to benefit the Disabled Jockeys Fund, she took the afternoon off from ponying horses to attend the races and make sure she bought some tickets for the drawing. And why not? Chavez galloped and worked Curlin for her close friend, trainer Helen Pitts, up to the day the 2007 Horse of the Year was sold privately and transferred to Steve Asmussen shortly after his maiden win here during the winter of 2007.

And as luck would have it, Chavez won the painting. which was a gift from an anonymous donor in conjunction with the Florida Medical Pain Center.

"I can't believe the coincidence," an excited Chavez said moments after her named was pulled out of the drum. "I've known Helen since 1997. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding. And when Curlin was sold we both cried. I didn't even have a photo of him, but now I have this beautiful painting."

Expensive youngster wins debut

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he is inclined to come back in an allowance race with Dunkirk, the expensive auction purchase who defeated maidens in his debut on Saturday.

Dunkirk, 3, a colt by Unbridled's Song who cost $3.7 million, rallied from off the pace to win sprinting.

"He had trained very well, and obviously with a pedigree like he has, we have high hopes, and he didn't let us down Saturday," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said Dunkirk would be pointed to a two-turn race for his next start. He got a Beyer Speed Figure of 77 on Saturday.

"He gives me the impression that the farther he goes, the better he'll be, considering the way he finishes his works and the way he gallops out after his works," Pletcher said.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman