HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Trainer David Fawkes had been considering several spots for Duke of Mischief's next start, but there was little doubt where the Grade 3 winner was headed after he drilled five furlongs in 58.46 seconds and galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.12 shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday.
"He'll run in the Donn," Fawkes said. "I was very happy with the way he went this morning. He needed a sharp drill like that and he obviously likes this racetrack."
Duke of Mischief is coming off a game neck victory in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale here on Jan. 10. Fawkes kept his options open after that race by nominating the horse to both the Sunshine Millions Turf and the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.
Duke of Mischief was not the only Donn hopeful to turn in a sharp work after the second renovation break on Saturday. He followed Dry Martini, who breezed five furlongs in 58.88 seconds under exercise rider Kristen Troxell. Dry Martini posted fractions of 24.08, 35.32, and 47.16 before completing six figures in 1:11.58 around the clubhouse turn to the one-mile pole.
Trainer Barclay Tagg had also considered the Sunshine Millions Turf for Dry Martini, who finished fourth, beaten two lengths by Duke of Mischief, in the Ft. Lauderdale.
"He ran a big number, a 5, on the sheets, so we felt the extra week would do him good," said Tagg. "We know we're up against it with Quality Road in the race but our horse likes this track and he's doing well and when they're doing well you've got to run, especially in a race like this with so much prestige. If Quality Road has an off day and our horse has a good day it should be a good race."
A field of from six to eight is expected for the Donn. Delightful Kiss and Helsinki appear definite to start while the connections of Kiss the Kid and Mambo Meister are considering both the Donn and the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf, which will also be decided here Saturday. According to racing secretary Dan Bork, other potential starters include Le Grand Cru, You and I Forever, Timber Reserve, and Friesan Fire.
Buddy's Saint works
Buddy's Saint continued preparations for his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on Feb. 20 when working five-eighths in 1:01.23 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.93 here Saturday morning for trainer Bruce Levine.
Another notable name on Saturday's local tab was the 9-year-old Brass Hat, who went an easy three furlongs in 36.60 for trainer Buff Bradley. Brass Hat, winner of the 2006 Donn, has not started since finishing second in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington Park on Sept. 7.
General Maximus now 2 for 2
General Maximus, a 3-year-old New York-bred son of Freud, remained undefeated after leading throughout to win Saturday's second race allowance for jockey Javier Castellano and trainer Joseph Imperio. General Maximus had won his only previous start by four lengths against statebred company at Belmont Park on July 9.
General Maximus's victory came at the expense of hard-luck runner-up Afleet Express, who broke slow for the second time in as many starts and did well to finish second following a wide trip.
* Wildcat Frankie, runner up in the Spectacular Bid, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Calder on Saturday. Trainer Jim Hatchett said Wildcat Frankie could use a one-mile allowance race next weekend as a possible prep for the Fountain of Youth or seven-furlong Hutcheson.