03/26/2007 12:00AM

Can lightning strike twice for Zito?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Boogie Boggs will be among the longest prices on the board and appears ambitiously placed when he runs for trainer Nick Zito in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. But one need only look at the results of the eighth race here last Saturday to understand why Zito plans to give Boogie Boggs a chance in the Grade 1 event.

Zito won with Compromise, who paid $193.40 after improving dramatically off a ninth-place finish in his career debut to win going a mile in a field of promising 3-year-old maidens.

"That's what can happen this time of year with a 3-year-old," said Zito. "Especially when you start stretching them out. Sometimes the extra distance will make a huge difference. How many times have I run longshots in big races who win or finished second? Better to give them the chance now than find out later they really want to go longer."

Zito said he believes Compromise may have been the highest priced winner he has ever saddled.

"For certain during the modern era," said Zito. "I might have had one pay that kind of price when I first started out, but I don't think so."

Boogie Boggs will enter the Florida Derby having had just three prior starts. Owned by My Meadowview Farm, Boogie Boggs won his maiden at first asking last summer at Saratoga when he rallied from far back to take a 5 1/2-furlong sprint. He has started twice here this winter, finishing fourth and second against first-level allowance competition. The 1o1/8-mile Florida Derby will mark his first try around two turns and first beyond 7 1/2 furlongs.

Zito hoped to follow Compromise's surprising maiden win Saturday with a big performance from Forefathers in the Lane's End at Turfway Park. But after racing in good position behind the early leaders for nearly six furlongs, Forefathers stopped abruptly and was eased to the wire.

"He flipped his palate severely during the race," Zito reported Sunday. "He locked down pretty good. He got bumped around between horses going into the far turn and it must have really shook him up. Looking back, I'm not so sure the same thing might have happened to him to a lesser degree in the Hutcheson after he turned his head, broke slow, then had to rush up and check in traffic."

Zito said Forefathers was scheduled to be examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle Clinic in Lexington, Ky., on Monday.

"He's too good a horse for him to have run that poorly in the Lane's End," said Zito. "Fortunately everything else seems okay, but once he gets over this we'll have to re-program him before getting him back to the races."

Blue Bullet appears likely for Aventura

Trainer Allen Jerkens had been leaning toward holding Blue Bullet out of Saturday's Aventura Stakes and waiting until he returns to New York to run the undefeated 3-year-old. But after watching Blue Bullet work a bullet five furlongs in 58.40 seconds on Sunday morning he's beginning to have second thoughts.

"It looked like he was starting to have a little problem handling the heat, but the way he worked it appears he's doing fine, and if that's the case I'll run him Saturday," Jerkens said after training hours on Monday.

Jerkens could cap off what has already been an outstanding winter with a pair of stakes wins on Saturday. Blue Bullet is likely to go off the favorite if he does run in the $175,000 Aventura and the much improved Political Force will be among the choices in the $150,000 Skip Away Handicap.

Political Force, who worked seven furlongs in 1:26.60 on Sunday, won a pair of allowance races earlier in the meet.

"We always thought he was a race horse but he never had any luck earlier in his career," said Jerkens. "He was bad in the gate but seems to have settled down. It's going to get tougher on Saturday but he's already been the distance and he really seems to like this track."

Park Avenue Ball awaits Artax

Trainer Jim Ryerson said he has decided to leave his multiple Grade 3 winner Park Avenue Ball in south Florida for the $100,000 Artax Handicap on April 7.

Park Avenue Ball is coming off a fast-closing second behind the undefeated Half Ours in the Grade 2 Richter Scale Handicap on March 3. Park Avenue Ball worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 here Monday.

"He did great this morning and he really seems to like it here," said Ryerson. "I could have brought him up north for the Carter or the Commonwealth but this should be a much easier spot so we'll just keep him in town and see if we can win one.

"What he does in the Artax will probably dictate what we do with him once getting back home, although the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park is probably the main goal right now."

Round Pond preps for Apple Blossom

Round Pond, the Breeders' Cup Distaff winner who finished fourth as the 2-5 favorite when making her seasonal debut in the March 11 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream, had her first workout since that race when she breezed a half-mile Monday morning in 48.60 seconds, handily, at the Palm Meadows training center near Boynton Beach.

Trainer Michael Matz said he is pleased with how Round Pond has rebounded from the Rampart, despite how she performed in that comeback race, and that he is pointing the 5-year-old mare to the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 7 at Oaklawn Park.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee