LAUREL -- Scotty Schulhofer has the short-priced favorite in the Hutcheson Stakes in Florida tomorrow, and a 3-year-old on the West Coast who might be even better.
"Well, it's possible he could turn out that way," the veteran trainer said. "But Scan would have to be awfully good, because Fly So Free has something about him that's . . . just exceptional."
Fly So Free will be 3-2 or so in the seven-furlong Hutcheson at Gulfstream, to be simulcast as the 12th race at Laurel. It is the first step of the Florida series leading toward the Triple Crown.
Fly So Free will be 1990's official 2-year-old champion when the Eclipse Awards are announced on television next Saturday. The Hutcheson is his first race since he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile by three widening lengths at Belmont on Oct. 27.
"I haven't honed him for this race," said Schulhofer, "but he ought to be able to beat this bunch, just on class. The only way he'd get beat is if it's not enough distance for him."
The 10-horse bunch includes To Freedom, a Blue Ensign colt trained by John Tammaro who won all four of his races at 2. "I didn't think much of his last one, at Saratoga," Schulhofer said. On Aug. 3 To Freedom, as the 3-5 favorite, lasted by a head to win the Saratoga Special, at six furlongs. He has not raced since.
Richman, by Bet Big, is considered a threat, but not by Schulhofer. He won seven races at age 2, the last five in a row. "But they raced him in Kentucky," Scotty said. "Don't you think they'd have brought him to New York if he was that good?"
Scan, a Mr. Prospector colt, won the Cowdin and Remsen at Belmont last fall. "If he'd been ready I'd have put him in the Breeders' Cup too," Schulhofer said.
Scan is at Santa Anita in the care of Schulhofer's son, Randy. He will start in the San Vicente on Feb. 10. He is out of a Nijinsky mare, meaning his breeding is of the highest quality.
"He's very good," Scotty said. "But Fly So Free has a little charisma about him, I guess you'd say, that makes him stand out. Yes, I think he's the best I've had at this stage."
Schulhofer has trained horses like Smile, MacDiarmida, Crytoclearance, Tappiano, Sewickley and (his favorite) the weight-carrying filly Ta Wee.