Think Green: Paper Man and Hard Buck Prepping for Turf Starts

Edited from Gulfstream Park notes

Clinton and Susan Atkins' Paper Man worked a bullet half-mile over the Gulfstream turf course Wednesday morning as the coaches from D. Wayne Lukas' operation consider a start in Saturday's $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds. His most recent outing was a dismal 32-length loss in a first-level allowance race.

Assistant trainer Larry Kelly said a decision to start the son of Woodman in the stakes would be made following the workout and depends on weather conditions Saturday.

Clockers caught Paper Man breezing a half-mile in :49.

Team Victory's Hard Buck has definitively proven to trainer Ken McPeek that he is a turf horse through and through. Unfortunately, he showed it with a disappointing race last time out when the Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) was washed off the grass. Now the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred wants a second chance in Sunday's $250,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I).

Hard Buck hasn't lost on a grass course since coming to the United States last fall. His only two recent losses came in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) in Dubai and his fourth-place finish in the Canadian Turf. In between, Hard Buck won three straight stakes in Kentucky, including the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill to close out his 2003 campaign.

He's won on everything from soft to firm ground, but the key, according to McPeek, is that the ground must be grass.

"He needed to run because I couldn't wait on him anymore," said McPeek. "I just didn't know how he was going to run in the mud. We found out. I do think he got a lot out of the race, though."

Hard Buck won the Linneo de Paula Machado Grand Prix (Brz-I) at 1 1/2-miles. Sunday's race will push him back out to 11 furlongs--farther than any of his stateside efforts so far. That means there will be some changes in his running style from his last race.

"I think that he went out there too fast in his last race," said McPeek. "Prado might have been a little too aggressive. We'll make sure that he doesn't get pushed too early this time around."

McPeek has pointed to a return to Dubai as a winter goal, but after Hard Buck's last performance the pressure will be on.

"He needs to win," said McPeek. "He needs to run well if we want to go back (to Dubai)."

Hard Buck worked on the Gulfstream turf course Wednesday morning, drilling a half-mile over the firm ground in :49 4/5.

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