02/13/2003 12:00AM

Biancone sending in stellar cast


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In addition to Whywhywhy, who will run in Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes, trainer Patrick Biancone brought three other runners to Florida from California, and he will have a fifth horse join them in the next two weeks. All are 3-year-olds.

Most prominent among Biancone's supporting cast will be Stellar, a filly who had a productive summer at Saratoga last year. She won her debut, was second in the Adirondack Stakes, and fourth in the Spinaway Stakes.

"She had a stress fracture of her right humerus," Biancone said Thursday morning. "It explains why she never wanted to change to her right lead in her races. Once we found it, we gave her plenty of time. She has been training with Bobby Scanlan in Ocala. We will bring her here in a couple of weeks."

Biancone's other Florida-based runners have been training or racing at Santa Anita in recent weeks.

Prince in Command was a maiden winner at Saratoga last summer, and has not raced since his second start in October. He is being pointed to an allowance race at Gulfstream.

Smokey Blue, a filly, won her second lifetime start at Santa Anita on Jan. 24. As with Prince in Command, she is eligible for first-level allowance races.

Tarkovsky finished fifth in his lone start at Santa Anita on Jan. 26. He is entered in Saturday's first race at Gulfstream, in which he drew the outside post in a field of 10 going 1 1/16 miles.

Biancone's horses will be supervised by assistant Cyril Desplanques.

Nicks leaves Mott to be a jockey agent

Ralph Nicks, long-time assistant to trainer Bill Mott, will trade in his helmet and chaps for a pencil and condition book when he begins a new career as jockey agent for Mark Guidry on March 4. Nicks, the son of veteran Midwestern horseman Morris Hicks, has worked for Mott for the past 13 years. Among the horses in his care during that period were Cigar, Paradise Creek, and Escena.

"I've been in the same routine now for a long time and just decided it was time for a change," said Nicks. "I'm 36 years old and I felt it was time to do something for myself, whether it be going out to train on my own or become an agent. I'd be lying if I said training horses wasn't in my blood, but becoming an agent will afford me more personal time and it isn't a large investment. And working for Mark is an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Nicks said he informed Mott of his intentions to leave the barn in January.

"Bill's been a great boss and a very good friend," said Nicks. "The man has been nothing but good for me, and I've had a lot of doors opened because of him. Working for Bill has been one of the best learning experiences and given me about as much exposure as anyone can have in this business."

Nicks listed numerous highlights during his long and successful association with the Mott stable. "Being around all the champions we've had in our barn was great, although I think winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff with Escena at Churchill Downs probably felt the best since she was more on hand with me than any of the others," said Nicks.

Nicks will inherit a hot jockey when he takes over Guidry's book next month. Guidry is currently sixth in the local standings and is the regular rider for both San Dare, already a two-time stakes winner at the meet, and Offlee Wild, who will be among the favorites in Saturday's Grade 1 Fountain of Youth. Guidry's book is currently held by veteran agent Richard DePass, who also handles Cornelio Velasquez.

"This move is nothing against Richie," Guidry said. "He's always on top of his game and did a great job for me. But I have to think of the long term, and agents are not allowed to have two veteran riders in New York. So if Cornelio and I both wind up at Saratoga later this year, I'd rather make a change now than have to make one later."

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Ken Ramsey said the reason he named his Fountain of Youth runner Ten Cents a Shine is because, as a youth, he used to shine shoes for a dime a pair at the train depot in his hometown of Artemus, Ky.

"On a good Saturday, I could make two dollars," Ramsey said. "The population then was about 500. There was no red light. I know they have a stop sign now."

Ramsey has come a long way from his shoe shine days. He made a fortune in the telecommunications industry, and now has an extensive racing stable based in the Midwest and East. He also loves to handicap and back his opinions at the mutuel windows.

"Now we're riding high, wide, and handsome," he said, laughing. "I get nervous when the phone rings. I'm afraid the trainers will have bad news. So I've told them that if everything is okay, the first thing they need to say is, 'The horse is all right,' then tell me what's going on."

Ramsey will be at Gulfstream on Saturday, then will go to New Orleans on Sunday to watch his unbeaten colt Badge of Silver in the Risen Star Stakes.

* Mandy's Gold continues to work toward her 2003 debut. On Thursday, the Grade 1 winner worked six furlongs here in 1:14.40, completing her final quarter-mile in 23.40 seconds.

"Right now, I'd say my first main objective could be the Hurricane Bertie on March 16," said trainer Mike Gorham.

* Keats, who is a probable starter in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 22, breezed a half-mile in 50.80 seconds on Thursday morning at the Payson Park training center.

Team Shuman-Gill seeks Grade 1 win

Even for the most brazen of claiming outfits, putting up $100,000 for a 7-year-old is a risky proposition. The team of owner Michael Gill and trainer Mark Shuman did it twice within five days last month.

Their first six-figure claim, Wertz, got beat a neck in an optional claiming race on Thursday. Their second $100,000 claim, Sardaukar, will jump into Grade 1 company in Sunday's $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Sardaukar finished second in that Jan. 24 optional claiming/allowance race, falling a half-length short of Boastful. It was his first start since last October.

"The horse ran a huge race," Shuman said. "Jerry [Bailey] came by and said he wanted to ride him back, but he's out of town that day."

Though he won a 10-furlong race in Europe as a 3-year-old, Sardaukar's most recent success has come in races under nine furlongs. Shuman said the distance is a concern, but "he has a big turn of foot. If everything falls right he could get it. It's a bit of an experiment but why not take a shot?''

Defending Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Cetewayo and W.L. McKnight Handicap winner Man From Wicklow top the field. Others expected include Williams News, Della Francesca, Riddlesdown, Stokosky, Just Listen, and Whata Brainstorm. Rouvres and Rochester are listed as possible runners.

Padua moves two horses to Pletcher

Satish Satan's Padua Stables have moved two horses, Defy Logic and Feisty Step, from trainer Nick Zito to Todd Pletcher.

Defy Logic, a 3-year-old son of Saint Ballado who cost $1.55 million at auction, has a second and two thirds from three starts. Pletcher said he would look for another maiden race in the next two weeks.

"We're trying to determine what his best distance is," Pletcher said. "Expectations have been high for the horse all along. He drew a lot of attention at the sales and based on the odds-board he's been well liked in his races."

Feisty Step, a 3-year-old filly who won her maiden and finished third in the Demoiselle, was scratched out of an allowance race on Feb. 3 after she flipped in the gate, unseated her rider, and got loose. Pletcher said he wanted to work with Feisty Step before settling in on her next start.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Mike Welsch