02/02/2009 12:00AM

Also-rans ponder their options


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While the winners of last weekend's important 3-year-old preps here, Capt. Candyman Can and Saratoga Sinner, continue to celebrate, their victims retreated to assess the losses and plot future strategies along the Kentucky Derby trail.

Last Friday, Capt. Candyman Can outfinished a game Hello Broadway to win the seven-furlong Grade 2 Hutcheson, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. Saratoga Sinner ran down fellow longshot Bear's Rocket to capture the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Holy Bull on Saturday, with the more highly regarded trio of West Side Bernie, Beethoven, and Danger to Society finishing third, fourth, and seventh.

Saratoga Sinner received a 96 Beyer for upsetting the Holy Bull, 23 points higher than his number for winning his maiden here just three weeks earlier.

Trainer Barclay Tagg was disappointed he did not win the Hutcheson but pleased with Hello Broadway's performance, especially since the race did not unfold as he had hoped.

"I was happy with his effort but I really wanted him to come from where the winner did, off the pace," Tagg said. "But he broke too sharp and wound up on the lead. What I'm trying to do right now is find out if he's a good horse or not. I thought seven-eighths was a good place to start, but I was hoping to find out if he'd take back and finish. He just broke so good he couldn't do it."

Tagg said Hello Broadway would probably come back in the one-mile Fountain of Youth on Feb. 28. Capt. Candyman Can is expected for the race, too.

"We'll know better where we stand with him after he goes a mile rather than seven-eighths," said Tagg. "Actually, I'd like to put him somewhere he can win, but if a suitable allowance race doesn't come up we'll try the Fountain of Youth."

Break Water Edison was the biggest disappointment in the Hutcheson. An impressive winner of the Nashua in his 2-year-old finale, Break Water Edison finished sixth and last in his 3-year-old debut after breaking from the rail, always a disadvantage out of the seven-furlong chute.

Kelly Breen, the trainer of West Side Bernie, and John Ward, who trains Beethoven, were both satisfied with the performance of their horse in the Holy Bull considering the circumstances. The two graded stakes winners had to carry 122 pounds and concede weight to the rest of the field while breaking from posts 9 and 10 at a distance that has a very short run to the clubhouse turn.

"I thought it was a decent effort," said Breen. "I think the racetrack had something to do with the outcome since it seemed to carry speed on Saturday. We didn't break as sharp as we'd have liked and Elvis [Trujillo] did all he could to save some ground. He made a nice move on the turn but just couldn't make up any ground through the stretch over that track."

Breen pretty much ruled out the Fountain of Youth as the next option for West Side Bernie and said he will now sit and wait until his other Derby prospect, Atomic Rain, runs a week from Saturday in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs before plotting a course for either 3-year-old. Both horses are owned by George and Lori Hall.

Breen said he would ship Atomic Rain to Tampa on Tuesday or Wednesday and give him a work over the track next weekend in preparation for the Sam Davis.

John Velazquez will have the mount.

Ward echoed Breen's sentiments.

"The weight and the post positions were significant and so too was the fact the rail was very good on Saturday," said Ward. "Except for not getting the graded money we were looking for I was very pleased. And the next time the winner comes back he'll have to carry the 122 pounds instead of us."

Ward had originally planned on using the Holy Bull as his lone prep for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28, but says those plans are now subject to change.

"I'm going to look at the Fountain of Youth as an option," said Ward. "I haven't totally ruled it out because of the money and because it's probably best I get another race under his belt before the Florida Derby. I'll be looking at the allowance conditions of that race and the weights everyone will carry very closely."

Another 3-year-old who put himself into the Derby picture here Saturday was Take the Points, a cleverly named son of Even the Score who won a first-level allowance at a mile by two lengths over Masala.

Both Take the Points, who received a career-best 93 Beyer for his second victory, and Masala are trained by Todd Pletcher.

"We gave him a little break after his maiden win, freshened him up, and the time off did him well," said Pletcher of Take the Points. "He'll definitely come back in a stakes sometime around the first week of March, so that gives us a lot of options. I'd really like to try him around two turns next, but I'm not completely ruling out the Fountain of Youth either."

Smooth Air tunes up for Tallahassee

Smooth Air, winner of the 2008 Hutcheson, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Calder on Sunday. It was the final work in preparation for Smooth Air's expected 2009 debut in Saturday's Tallahassee Stakes on the turf.

Paco Lopez, winner of the Eclipse Award as top apprentice rider in 2008, will be aboard Smooth Air for the first time in the one-mile Tallahassee.

Donn card handle way up

The ontrack handle for Saturday's Donn/Holy Bull doubleheader of $1,254,814 was up a whopping 21 percent from a year ago. Overall handle on the 10-race card was in excess of $13.8 million, which was up 14.5 percent from Donn Day 2008.

Saturday's program also included the much publicized appearance of Nicanor, Barbaro's baby brother, who finished 10th in his career debut.

* Gulfstream Park presented the Jockeys' Guild a check for $22,000 on Saturday for its injured jockeys fund. The donation was made possible, in part, by a state-tax credit program that the guild put together in conjunction with the track.