04/16/2007 12:00AM

Adore the Gold shakes off illness


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Adore the Gold, who finished a tiring seventh after forcing the early pace in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, is back in training after spending more than a week on the sidelines due to illness.

Trainer Mike Gorham said Adore the Gold returned to the track for the first time last Wednesday and will remain on the grounds here through the weekend.

"He got sick for a few days and ran a temperature right after the Florida Derby," Gorham said. "I guess he must have been fighting off some kind of infection that was probably coming on at the time of the race, and the effort of the race itself really set it off. Obviously it's a disappointment that we probably didn't get to see his best performance at such an important time, but it's just one of those things you have to expect in this business."

Gorham said he has nothing picked out for Adore the Gold, who put himself on the Kentucky Derby trail after winning the Gradeo2 Swale Stakes and finishing a courageous fourth from a tough post in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth earlier in the meet.

"Originally I was going to ship him right up to Delaware Park shortly after the Florida Derby, but I didn't want him making the van trip while he was still sick," said Gorham. "Now I'll just leave him here with the rest of the horses I've kept behind and send him north with that group after the meet ends. There's a chance he could breeze once more in Florida before he leaves, and there will be plenty of options available for him once he's back on a regular schedule. That could even include the Preakness. We'll wait and see how the Derby shakes out and how he's doing before making any definite decision."

Long-absent maiden winner Rondo returns

Wednesday's program marks the return of Rondo, a $2.9 million 2-year-old purchase during the winter of 2005 who has not started since winning his maiden by 9 1/2 lengths at Saratoga on July 26. Rondo, a son of Grand Slam out of the Storm Cat mare Dama, received a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for his maiden win.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor and owned by Godolphin Racing, Rondo has wintered at Payson Park, where he shows six recorded works dating back to March 1, including a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.80 on March 31. He will go 6 1/2 furlongs under entry-level allowance conditions in his 2007 debut.

Two sharp sprinters clash in feature

Bound Notebook and Without a Doubt, both of whom are coming off well-graded victories, may vie for favoritism in Wednesday's $48,000 feature, a six-furlong race open to second-level allowance horses and $50,000 claimers.

Bound Notebook rallied from last to a 2 1/4-length entry-level allowance win on March 26, earning a career-best 97 Beyer in the process. The victory was the second in 13 lifetime starts for Bound Notebook, trained by Stanley Hough.

Without a Doubt has not started since outfinishing Cherion by a neck to post a game neck decision under a $50,000 claiming tag on Feb.o19. The win came in the 8-year-old Without a Doubt's first start since he was claimed for the same price by trainer Peter Walder five weeks earlier. A former stakes winner, Without a Doubt earned a 98 Beyer for the victory, his best number since he finished second against higher-priced optional claiming opposition last summer at Arlington Park.

Other key contenders include Tour of the Cat and the lightly raced, Calder-based pair of B L's a Runner and R Fast Favorite.