03/24/2007 12:00AM

Adore the Gold throws down gauntlet


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Adore the Gold served notice that he'll be a force to reckon with in the $1 million Florida Derby after he worked five furlongs in 57.74 seconds here on Saturday.

Adore the Gold, a game fourth after forcing Stormello's pace from the outset of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, had a busy morning. Trainer Mike Gorham first sent the son of Formal Gold out to jog and hack around for nearly a half hour in the quarter-mile chute adjacent to his barn. Then after waiting for the renovation break, Adore the Gold came back on the track under exercise rider Carlos Reyes and went in fractions of 12.90, 24.52, and 35.13 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:10.90. He was under mild urging through the latter stages of his work while completing a final quarter-mile split in an eye-catching 22.61.

"The track was pretty fast this morning, which is why I waited for the second break, hoping the harrows might soften it up a bit," said Gorham. "But that's what happens sometimes when it rains and then tightens up, and I think his final time was more a factor of the track condition than him working too fast. The most important thing is that he finished strong and galloped out good."

Gorham said he's hoping for a little better luck at Wednesday's post-position draw for Saturday's Florida Derby than he had when he pulled the extreme outside for the Fountain of Youth.

"He can go either way, but I wouldn't mind seeing him off the pace if we draw a better post and don't have our hand forced like it was in the last one," said Gorham.

Gorham said that while the Kentucky Derby is obviously in the back of his mind, the Florida Derby remains the major goal at the moment.

"For us, this race is a big deal," said Gorham. "We'll worry about this one now and hopefully he'll run well enough where we can then start thinking about the Derby."

Stormello works before trip to Florida

Stormello also had his final major tuneup for the Florida Derby on Saturday, working five furlongs in 58.20 at Hollywood Park. The drill was the fastest of 67 at the distance on the morning's tab. Stormello is scheduled to fly to south Florida along with fellow Florida Derby contender Notional on Tuesday.

A field of 10 is expected for the Florida Derby and should also include Scat Daddy, Bold Start, Boogie Boggs, Chelokee, Hal's My Hope, Imawildandcrazyguy, and Johannesburg Star.