Turbo Speed and Our Commander, each exiting a disappointing effort going long in his first start as a 3-year-old, shorten up to six furlongs for Saturday's $70,000 Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel Park.
The Dancing Count, which drew a field of six 3-year-olds, goes as race 9 and is the first leg of the season's first Magna 5.
The Penn National-based Turbo Speed and locally based Our Commander both saw three-race winning streaks end in the Count Fleet, a mile and 70-yard race over Aqueduct's inner track on Jan. 2.
Based on his first three races, which he won by a combined margin of 14 1/4 lengths, Turbo Speed may be best suited to one-turn sprints. He ran evenly in his two-turn debut, finishing third.
Although Turbo Speed indicated his sharpness by working a best-of-24 five furlongs in 1:01 on Jan. 23, switching from a route to a sprint isn't a strong category for his trainer, Bernie Houghton, who is 0 for 4 with horses fitting that profile and returning in less than 30 days, according to DRF's Formulator.
Houghton, who worked in the Maryland Jockey Club racing office from 1993 through 2001, said he considered taking Turbo Street to next Saturday's Whirlaway, a 1 1/16-mile race at Aqueduct, but prefers the series of races for 3-year-olds in Maryland that get progressively longer. The seven-furlong Miracle Wood on Feb. 27 and the one-mile Private Terms on March 20 follow the Dancing Count.
"The horse is doing just great," said Houghton. "We thought this was a way to educate him and move him out in distance [later]."
Our Commander is 3 for 3 over Laurel's main track, including two victories when he has shortened up in distance. Those two wins, highlighted by the Maryland Juvenile Championship, are part of trainer Gary Capuano's 6-for-17 record with horses returning in less than 30 days while switching from routes to sprints.
Our Commander was never a factor in the Count Fleet, racing last of seven all the way around the inner track. He was an off-the-pace winner going a one-turn mile and 7 1/2 furlongs in his previous two starts.
The best last-race Beyer Speed Figure in the Dancing Count field belongs to Cole T, who comes off a maiden win. But his trainer, John Salzman Jr., is 0 for his last 5 with horses who won their maiden last time out.
Morumsco, who broke poorly while badly beaten by Our Commander in the Maryland Juvenile Championship, dominated the last two times he raced six furlongs. Both of those races were in the mud, however, and he has yet to run a Beyer better than 58 on a fast track.