Wednesday, March 19, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 19, 2008 . . . More than four inches of rain fell on Northern Kentucky Tuesday and the slow-moving system is expected to continue through early evening Wednesday, but training at Turfway Park has continued uninterrupted and the Polytrack is ready to go for the Lane's End Stakes this Saturday.
"The Polytrack this morning looks great," said trainer Grant Hofmans, who sent his Lane's End entry Halo's King to the track Wednesday for an easy half-mile breeze. "If this was a dirt track we'd all be scrambling and panicking, but the Polytrack looks great.
"We wanted to get him on the track," said Hofmans of Halo's King. "He’s real aggressive, a big, strong horse, and we wanted to give him a little something to do to take the edge off coming into the race. He looked super—striding out well, finished up well, galloped out strong. I'm very happy with where we are."
On choosing the 1 1/8-mile Lane's End over the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway Stakes on the undercard, Hofmans said, "This time of year, with the graded money, [the Lane's End] is a great spot to take a shot, to hopefully step up and run big and get our foot in the door. He has always trained great. Since the first day we got him I knew this horse had ability. And he's going forward—these 3-year-olds change weekly. I'd say we have to finish in the top three to take the next step forward."
Of the seven post drawn by Halo's King, Hofmans said, "He sits off the pace in mid-pack, so I'm not too concerned about post position."
Hofmans' father, trainer David Hofmans, also has a horse in the Lane's End. Medjool will break from the outside post, which suits owner John O'Hara just fine.
"We love it," said O'Hara. "He's a one pace horse and he can't be stopped. The only time he's been in trouble was when he was down inside, so this is perfect."
Commenting on running against his father, Hofmans said, "We compete against each other and we still learn from each other. We call each other almost every day with questions. You know, 'I have a horse that's doing this or that, what do you think,' and he does the same. It's a lot of fun."
Macho Again will break from post 2, but the draw will not affect his strategy, said Clay Brittle, assistant to trainer Dallas Stewart. "The post position doesn't really matter," said Brittle. "He likes to come from out of it, and I expect he will be somewhere in the middle of the pack."
Brittle jogged Macho Again Tuesday and galloped him Wednesday after a breeze on Saturday. A son of Macho Uno, Macho Again was sixth in the LeComte Stakes behind Z Fortune and comes into the Lane's End off an allowance win at Fair Grounds.
Turf War also galloped Wednesday under the eye of Mark Casse's assistant, David Adams. "He went over the track very good," said Adams. "The exercise rider said he felt good." Turf War has trained and raced over Polytrack at Woodbine and over a similar surface in Florida during the winter.
Turf War finished ninth in the Southwest Stakes last month after finishing in a dead-heat for win in the Delta Jackpot in December. In both of those races he came from very far back—in the Southwest he was 24 lengths off the leader at the half—and Adams said he expects the colt will be closer to the pace on Saturday.
Turf War is owned in partnership by William S. Farish Jr.'s Woodford Racing LLC, William S. Farish, and George Bolton. The elder Farish owns and the younger Farish is heavily involved in the operation of Lane's End Farm, sponsor of the Lane's End Stakes. In partnership with E. J. Hudson Jr. and James Elkins, the elder Farish also bred Turf War, whose sire, Dixie Union, stands at Lane's End.
The Lane's End and the Rushaway Stakes will be carried live on ESPN Saturday from 6 to 7pm ET. Horse Racing Radio Network also will be on the grounds, broadcasting live from 5 to 7pm.