02/05/2004 12:00AM

With Anticipation third in return

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - With Anticipation didn't win Thursday's one-mile allowance feature on the turf, finishing third behind Del Mar Show and the highly regarded Chilean-bred Host, but trainer Jonathan Sheppard came away smiling nonetheless.

"He ran well and did it with enthusiasm," Sheppard said. "We knew the race wasn't going to set up well for him, especially at that distance, but he handled himself nicely and Pat [Day] gave him a well-judged ride."

With Anticipation was making his first start since finishing seventh in the United Nations Handicap on July 5. A five-time Grade 1 winner, he suffered a minor tendon injury while training for a defense of his title in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Handicap last summer at Saratoga.

He was beaten 5 1/4 lengths on Thursday.

"He had a lot of long gallops and slow works on the farm, and I wanted to get a good work into him after he finally got here last week," said Sheppard. "Then they closed the track on me for two days this weekend because of the weather, so I had to change plans a little. Today was a test to see how he would come back, and I thought he passed it quite well."

Sheppard said he would now point With Anticipation to the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap on Feb. 22.

Trainer Todd Pletcher was also pleased with the performance of Host, who was beaten a length by the multiple graded stakes winner Del Mar Show in his U.S. debut.

"When you take a horse who won't turn 4 until August, hasn't run in six months, and never raced in this hemisphere before, and put him up against horses like Del Mar Show and With Anticipation, it's hard not to be happy with a race like that," said Pletcher.

Pletcher said his main goal for Host is next month's UAE Derby in Dubai. The derby is run on dirt for 3-year-olds, and Host, considered a 4-year-old here, is eligible for the race since he was foaled in August in the Southern Hemisphere.

"The plan is to take him to Dubai," Pletcher said. "The only question is whether he runs here again one more time before he goes or not."

Del Mar Show, a 7-year-old trained by Bill Mott, paid $4.80 as the favorite Thursday. He entered the race winless in his last seven starts, dating back to a Keeneland allowance victory in April. In his prior start, a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance on Jan. 11, Del Mar Show was beaten a nose by Request for Parole, who returned to win the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida Handicap on Jan. 25.

Vanguardia wires field in U.S. debut

Vanguardia, returning from a two-year absence and making her U.S. debut, led throughout in a strong field of third-level allowance fillies and mares Thursday, winning the turf race by 3 3/4 lengths.

Vanguardia was purchased privately by owner Earle Mack and turned over to trainer Angel Penna Jr. six months ago. A 6-year-old daughter of Roy, Vanguardia had been training sensationally at Palm Meadows.

"She's a very good filly," Penna said. "She had hip problems, which was why she was off so long. I was pretty confident she would run well today the way she had been training, but two years is two years, so you just never know."

Vanguardia was ridden to victory by John Velazquez, who told Penna the mare did it easily despite running greenly during parts of the race.

"Even though she's 6, she's been away a long time, and all this is new to her over here," said Penna. "I'd like to get away with another condition race for her if I can, but if not then we'll have to start looking for a stakes."

Lukas looking for a race for Day Trader

Day Trader has not started since finishing sixth as the 6-5 favorite in the 2003 Mr. Prospector Handicap here 13 months ago, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas wasn't about to bring him back against the likes of Cajun Beat and Gygistar in Saturday's Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap.

"He's ready to run, but I'd like to get a little softer spot than that," Lukas said shortly after entries were drawn for the Deputy Minister. "He's doing really well, but if nothing comes up soon, then I guess I'll have to consider bringing him back against stakes company."

Day Trader, who finished 11th behind stablemate and Eclipse Award winner Orientate in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint, has trained exceptionally well here this winter. His latest work came on Thursday morning, when he went five furlongs in 1:00.

Lukas, who has won two Florida Derbies and three Fountain of Youth Stakes over the years, has a full barn stabled on the grounds again this winter, but he said that at the moment he has nothing earmarked for the big 3-year-old races.

"I won't be sending in anything for the Fountain of Youth or Hutcheson," Lukas said. "We've got a lot of options out here at the same time. It is possible we could ship something down there later in the meet."

Second of June works sharply

Second of June, who has emerged as the top 3-year-old based in Florida this winter, continued his aggressive training with a sharp mile workout in 1:41.60 on Thursday morning at Calder Race Course, where he is based.

The time was six seconds faster than the next best at the distance on Thursday. Four horses worked one mile at Calder.

Thursday's work was the last drill Second of June will have before the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 14, said trainer Bill Cesare. He used a similar schedule before last month's victory in the Holy Bull Stakes. Second of June worked twice at one mile in between the What a Pleasure Stakes and the Holy Bull, with the final work 10 days before the Holy Bull. In preparation for the Fountain of Youth, Second of June again has worked a mile twice at Calder.

"It was a nice, open gallop is all it was," Cesare said.

Second of June will be seeking his fourth straight victory. He had five weeks between the What a Pleasure and the Holy Bull. This time, he will be racing 28 days apart.

"I wish it was more than 28 days," Cesare said. "I'd rather have more days."

Cesare said Second of June would not have a schooling session at Gulfstream next week. "We'll just come over cold and run," Cesare said. "We'll just go with the flow."

The Fountain of Youth is Gulfstream's major prep for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 13. Also expected for the Fountain of Youth are Blushing Indian, El Prado Rob, Frisky Spider, Read the Footnotes, Sir Oscar, and perhaps Silver Wagon.

Man From Wicklow feeling fine, trainer says

Trainer Rick Violette reports that Grade 1 winner Man From Wicklow came out of his 11th-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf none the worse for wear. The start was Man From Wicklow's first in nine months.

"They just ran too fast for him; he had no chance," said Violette. "He doesn't have that kind of cruising speed to keep up going a mile and one-eighth."

Proud Man rallied off fractions of 46.50 seconds and 1:09.87 en route to setting a course record of 1:45.69, winning the Sunshine Millions Turf by a half-length over the pacesetting Hear No Evil.

Man From Wicklow "came out of the race terrific, and I'm thinking about the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap for his next start," said Violette. "That distance is more his style." The race is a Grade 1 at 1 3/8 miles.

* Funny Cide visited Gulfstream Park on Thursday for a schooling session prior to the day's first race. The 3-year-old champ of 2003 will be back on Saturday to take on Medaglia d'Oro in the Donn Handicap.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman