Halo Najib Among 11 for American Turf S.

Halo Najib Among 11 for American Turf S.
Photo: Louise E. Reinagel
Halo Najib to make his turf debut in the Crown Royal American Turf May 2.
Zayat Stables' Halo Najib appears to be on the outside looking in as far as making the 2008 Kentucky Derby field. Barring a last-minute defection, he's more likely to make his turf debut in the $150,000 Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs May 2, the day before the Derby.

The Halo's Image colt is one of 11 3-year-olds entered for the American Turf, which is to be contested at 1 1/16 miles on grass. The field also includes the Triple Crown contenders Blackberry Road and Cannonball. A Bill Mott trainee, Prussian, a graded winner on turf in Canada at 2, shoulders top weight of 123 pounds.

Halo Najib, who drilled five furlongs on the Churchill turf April 29 for trainer Dale Romans, sits 21st on the list of graded earners and would need one horse to drop out before the 10 a.m. draw April 30 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands in order to make that field.

The Florida-bred finished second in the Lane's End (gr. II) March 22 at Turfway Park before a seventh-place showing three weeks later in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland, both races coming over Polytrack surfaces.

Kent Desormeaux, who would ride Halo Najib in the American Turf, was aboard the chestnut for his grass drill, which was timed in a leisurely 1:05 for five furlongs on firm going around the dogs.

“I just wanted to let him run down the lane and let Kent see if he’s got a quick turn of foot on him,” Romans said. “I love it when I see my horses come back after a work and it doesn’t look like they even did anything.”

Halo Najib, breaking from post 6, owns an overall record of 2-2-1 in eight starts and leads the field in earnings with $273,416.

Trainer Wesley Ward moves Cannonball back to the turf -- where he has two wins and three third-place finishes in five starts -- after a sixth-place effort when extremely wide in the Lane's End. Alex Solis has the return engagement here and they break from post 3.

Bred in New York by his owners, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the Catienus gelding has not won in three starts in 2008 while picking up third-place checks in both the Hallandale Beach (gr. IIIT) and Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) on grass this winter in Florida. Cannonball also ran third in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on a yielding Monmouth Park course last fall.

Prussian went favored in the off-the-turf Transylvania (gr. III) at Keeneland April 4 but faded in the stretch after setting a modest pace to finish fourth in his first start of the year. Owned by Gary Knapp, the 3-year-old Danzig colt won Woodbine's Summer Stakes (Can-III) as a 2-year-old. John Velazquez takes over for Desormeaux aboard Prussian.

American Turf contender Boss Lafitte surged past Prussian to win the Transylvania on Polytrack in his graded stakes debut for trainer Tom Amoss. Marc Winston and Robert Levy's Uptown Stables owns the Dynaformer colt, who is ridden again by Robby Albarado.

Dogwood Stable's Blackberry Road, who ran in four stakes on this year's Triple Crown trail in Arkansas and Louisiana for trainer David Carroll, makes his turf debut with Julien Leparoux aboard for the first time.

The Gone Westcolt is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II). He began the year with three consecutive starts at Fair Grounds, where he wound up second in the LeComte (gr. III), fifth in the Risen Star (gr. III) and fourth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).

Sailor's Cap, a Distant View colt owned by Team Valor International, scored a three-length allowance win for trainer James Toner on a yielding Keeneland turf course April 6.

$150,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:47 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Free Fighter (IL), 117, Miguel Mena
2. Nistle's Crunch (NJ), 117, Calvin H. Borel
3. Cannonball (NY),     121, Alex O. Solis
4. Processor's Turf (KY), 117, Mike E. Smith
5. Tizdejavu (KY), 117, Garrett K. Gomez
6. Halo Najib (FL), 117, Kent J. Desormeaux
7. Blackberry Road (KY), 117, Julien R. Leparoux
8. Prussian (KY), 123, John R. Velazquez
9. Sailor's Cap (KY), 117, Edgar S. Prado
10. Boss Lafitte (KY), 117, Robby Albarado
11. Cape of Storms (NY), 117, John McKee

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