Formal Gold's 1 1/4-length victory over Skip Away in the 1 1/8-mile Donn Handicap came after a similar layoff. In the '97 Donn, Formal Gold was making his first start since finishing fifth in Alphabet Soup's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
Julian Demarco and Richard Disano's North East Bound worked three furlongs in :36 2/5 seconds on Thursday while breezing on a fast track at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old gelded son of D'Accord is preparing for his return to the races in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at the South Florida oval on Feb. 3. In his most recent race, North East Bound finished second, a neck behind War Chant in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT)."I sent him to the Circle S. Farm (in nearby Davie) for a rest after his Breeders' Cup race," trainer Bill Perry said. "I brought him here to the track several weeks ago and put him back in serious training. He worked three furlongs this morning in :36 2/5 and was well within himself. I was very pleased with the work."North East Bound has compiled a record of 10 wins from 24 career starts and earnings just shy of $1 million. The adaptable runner has earned stakes win on turf tracks listed as firm and good and dirt tracks labeled fast and sloppy."He's a versatile horse and won his previous start on the dirt when he won the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II)," said Perry. "That's why I think the Donn Handicap will be a good spot for him. If everything goes as planned then that'll be his next start."Perry, who conditioned 1997 Donn winner Formal Gold, doesn't feel the extended layoff will pose a problem for North East Bound."He was off almost six months when he won that stakes race at Pimlico (Charlie Eckman Mile Stakes on May 7) last year and he set a track record doing it," Perry said. "He's a good colt that's getting better with age and he runs well off a layoff."