02/07/2002 12:00AM

Bond pick-ups return him to spotlight


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In several seasons of racing, Behrens took trainer James Bond to the biggest races across the country, even halfway around the world to Dubai. But after that durable, multiple stakes-winning horse was retired at the end of 2000, Bond found himself, as he puts it, "at a dance, but without a bride."

"It's kind of lonely on the sidelines," Bond said Thursday morning from his base at Payson Park. "No one sends you flowers."

Bond had best put on a new pair of dancing shoes. He's back in the major races. Christmas came early last December for Bond, who on Dec. 1 had horses owned by Gary and Mary West transferred to his care from trainer Bill Mott. Included in that group were *, both of whom are entered in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

"It was a gift," Bond said. "These horses were self-made. Billy did an awesome job with them. I just have had to keep them fit and happy. It was fortunate for me. I felt bad for Billy, but what can you do? Business is business."

The entry of Mongoose and Ubiquity is 6-1 on Daily Racing Form's morning line, behind 5-2 favorite Red Bullet and 4-1 Graeme Hall. In a wide-open race in which several of the runners may be past their prime, Mongoose and Ubiquity are legitimate, intriguing contenders.

Mongoose was considered by Mott to be his best 3-year-old one year ago, but the colt was a disappointment in the spring. He lost his first six starts of the year. By the fall, however, the talent Mott believed was there finally began to emerge. Mongoose won two straight races in New York to end the year, both against allowance company, but his development, and his pedigree (by Broad Brush out of a Cox's Ridge mare) were indicative of a horse who could progress further this year.

But two weeks after Mongoose's final start of 2001, he was moved to Bond.

"I just went right on training him after I got him," Bond said. "I trained him for about 10 days before I worked him. I asked the client for the veterinarian records, just to keep everything on the right page."

In his first start for Bond here on Jan. 19, Mongoose romped by 6 1/4 lengths in an upper-level allowance race that turned out to be the final start for 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

"I thought he had that kind of race in him, because he had been training that way," Bond said.

Running in the Donn, however, was an afterthought. Bond said he decided to run in the race after conferring with jockey Edgar Prado, whom Bond jokingly said "twisted my arm."

Ubiquity, a 5-year-old son of Colonial Affair, won two of his final three starts of last year, including the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23. This will be his first start for Bond. Last Sunday, Ubiquity worked five furlongs at Payson in 1:01.80, a terrific time over that deep track. "He's working very well," Bond said.

Bond spends the winter at Payson Park and ships his horses to Gulfstream on the day of their races. Gulfstream's main track has been deeper than in year's past, and Bond believes training at Payson has been an advantage.

"Just look at the training standings there," he said. Atop the list are Mott and John Kimmel, both of whom, like Bond, are based at Payson.

While Bond uses Behrens and another of his previous stars, Will's Way, as benchmarks, both Mongoose and Ubiquity have a chance to usurp Behrens in at least one area. Behrens won the Gulfstream Park Handicap in 1999 and 2000, but he never won the Donn. He finished second in the Donn in 1999, and was third in the race in 2000. Bond is hoping Mongoose or Ubiquity dance right into the winner's circle, where a blanket of flowers will be draped across their withers.



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