01/17/2006 12:00AM

Barbaro to try dirt in Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Michael Matz ended any further speculation as to if and when the undefeated Barbaro might try the main track by naming the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes here on Feb. 4 as the 3-year-old's next objective.

Barbaro is unbeaten and untested in three starts, all of which have come on grass. His most recent triumph came in his 3-year-old debut, an easy 3 3/4-length victory in Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on New Years Day.

"He's always worked well on the dirt," Matz said shortly after Barbaro breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:02 at Palm Meadows on Monday morning. "Whether he'll run as well on dirt is something we have to find out. I believe he will, but it also remains to be seen whether that still makes him good enough against the other top 3-year-olds in the division."

Matz said his assistant trainer and Barbaro's regular exercise rider Peter Brette was aboard Monday but that jockey Edgar Prado will come up to Palm Meadows for the colt's next work.

"He went real easy this morning and galloped out good," said Matz. "It was just a maintenance work. I'll have Edgar work him next time. He's been doing well since his last start, and the timing is good to try him on the dirt. Most of the big turf races for 3-year-olds aren't until the spring and it makes sense to find out right now whether he belongs on the dirt or if he'll stay on the grass the rest of the year."

Zito praises Hesanoldsalt

Trainer Nick Zito has a few 3-year-olds of his own who could make some noise before the meet is out, although the Hall of Fame trainer remains cautiously optimistic, as always .

"It's January 16," he said to a visitor to his barn on Monday morning. "See me on April 16, and then we'll talk about where we stand."

Zito had reason to joke on Monday, a day after sending out one of his promising 3-year-olds, Hesanoldsalt, to an upset over 4-5 favorite Sunriver going 1 1/8 miles in a first-level allowance race on Sunday. Sunriver is a full brother to Ashado.

The victory was the second in a row, both around two turns, for Hesanoldsalt, a son of Broad Brush and a half-brother to Donn Handicap winner Mongoose.

"He's come to hand well," said Zito. "The Broad Brush's are all pretty durable and want to go long, and I thought this race was impressive since Ashado's brother was in there, and he has to be a good horse since he already has beaten [Count Fleet Stakes winner] Achilles of Troy."

Hesanoldsalt is owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. Zito teamed with Live Oak here last season to win both the Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby with High Fly.

"Mrs. Weber's obviously got a pretty good operation going on to keep producing these type of horses," said Zito.

Meanwhile, Zito hopes Fabled will rebound from his first setback in three starts, a second-place finish behind Rehoboth in Saturday's fourth race.

"I was disappointed, but the bright spot is that the horse came out of the race well and can now go forward into the Hutcheson," said Zito. "He got into a little trouble, but whether he got a trip or not he might not have beaten the winner. The one thing we found out about this horse earlier is that he must be in the clear."

Zito also said he is planning to send his undefeated 3-year-old Doc Cheney to Tampa for the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes on Jan. 28, while remaining undecided over what is next for Hemingway's Key, who is undefeated in two starts.

"Hemingway's Key is one of my favorites," Zito said. "I'm very high on him, but I need to get a two-other-than allowance race to go for him around two turns."

Dutrow pair runs twice in 48 hours

Trainer Anthony Dutrow didn't allow any grass to grow under the feet of his turf specialists Sabre Baby or Peace Emblem over the holiday weekend.

Peace Emblem and Sabre Baby finished eighth and ninth in Saturday's eighth race, then wheeled right back and ran against one another again in Monday's fifth race. This time, it was Sabre Baby who came out on top, drawing off to an easy victory under jockey Cornelio Velasquez with Peace Emblem finishing eighth and last in the field of eight mid-priced claimers.

The win was the second in the last three starts for Sabre Baby, who had not started since Oct. 28 before running Saturday.

* Funny Cide worked four furlongs in 47.80 at Gulfstream Park on Tuesday. The work was his first since the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner finished seventh making his 2006 debut in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector Handicap on Jan. 7.