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Friday, February 4
Roses in May using Donn as step towards Dubai

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Only one horse, Eclipse Award champion Ghostzapper, was good enough to defeat Roses in May in 2004. Both will return to race again this season, but anybody hankering for a rematch will have to be patient.

By the time Ghostzapper kicks off his 2005 campaign this spring, Roses in May could already have two races under his belt, the first of which will come Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $500,000 Donn Handicap.

The Grade 1 Donn will highlight an outstanding card that includes five other graded stakes: the Grade 3 Holy Bull, the first major test for 3-year-olds here this winter on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2; the Grade 2 Hutcheson; the Grade 2 Davona Dale; the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap; and the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes.

Roses in May won his first five starts in 2004, all at different racetracks, including the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. Three of those victories came at the same 1 1/8-mile distance of the Donn. Roses in May suffered his lone setback when he chased Ghostzapper from start to finish before settling for second in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Owned by Eclipse Award winners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Dale Romans, Roses in May will be using the Donn as a springboard to the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 26.

"It's hard to call a prestigious Grade 1 event like the Donn a prep for another race," said Romans. "But then again, when you're running for $500,000 and the next one is $6 million, I guess maybe you could."

Still, Romans said Roses in May is going in 100 percent and is ready to give a top performance despite not having started in more than three months.

"I backed way off him after the Breeders' Cup, but he never left the barn," said Romans. "I think he's going to run real well, and we're coming in Saturday to win."

Roses in May will carry high weight of 121 pounds including regular rider John Velazquez.

The Donn lineup is compact but full of quality. Along with Roses in May, the field will include Saint Liam, the Nick Zito-trained entry of Pies Prospect and Seek Gold, Eddington, and longshot Wishingitwas.

"Saint Liam is obviously the one to beat," said Romans, who got to see Saint Liam last fall at Churchill Downs, when the horse shipped into his barn before the Clark.

Richard Dutrow Jr., who trains Saint Liam, said he agrees with Romans.

"We've been pointing for this race since he won the Clark," said Dutrow. "It's a tough spot, and he's going to have to step up big time to beat Roses in May, but we're right on target. He's sitting on a big race. All he needs is a clean trip."

In the Grade 1 Woodward, Saint Liam got even closer to Ghostzapper than Roses in May did in the Classic, missing by a neck following a race-long battle. Dutrow gave Saint Liam 10 weeks off before he returned to close out the year with a win in the Clark.

Saint Liam raced in blinkers for the first time in the Clark and will run in blinkers again Saturday.

Both Roses in May and Saint Liam do their best when on or with the pace, and a potential battle between the two favorites may give the others their best hope of springing the upset.

Seek Gold finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Saint Liam in the Clark despite a rough trip precipitated by a very poor start. A son of Touch Gold, Seek Gold improved steadily during the final half of the year after proving no match for Saint Liam several months earlier in the Woodward.

Pies Prospect was a two-time Grade 3 winner in 2004. He closed out the campaign with perhaps his best race, an 8 1/2-length victory in Calder's Fred Hooper Handicap, after being outrun by Saint Liam and Seek Gold when seventh in the Clark.

Eddington had an even better 3-year-old season, hitting the board in three Grade 1 races, including the Preakness and Travers, but he will be making his first stakes appearance against older horses in the Donn. Eddington is unbeaten in four starts in south Florida and comes into the race off a huge effort Jan. 16, when he defeated a field of older allowance runners by nearly nine lengths.

Wishingitwas has not started since upsetting the Metroplex Mile at Lone Star on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

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