02/01/2007 1:00AM

Cough keeps Buffalo Man out of Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Buffalo Man, who likely would have been the third choice in the Holy Bull Stakes to Nobiz Like Shobiz and Scat Daddy on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, was not entered in the race because he came down with a cough, trainer Cam Gambolati said Thursday morning.

Buffalo Man coughed once on Wednesday, then five more times on Thursday after a routine gallop, Gambolati said.

"We've got a small problem, but it could have been a big one if he had run," Gambolati said at his Gulfstream barn.

Buffalo Man, owned in part by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, has won 4 of 6 starts, including the Spectacular Bid Stakes here on Jan. 7.

Gambolati, who won the 1985 Kentucky Derby with Spend a Buck, said he would consider the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 10, or the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay on Feb. 17 as the next possible start for Buffalo Man if he recovers quickly.

"I wouldn't want to get backed up too much," Gambolati said. "I'd like to run here in the Fountain of Youth," on March 3.

Buffalo Man was being treated Thursday morning by veterinarian Dr. Mark Cheney, who was using a new machine designed to clear mucus. Called the Vibra VM, it was stuck in one nostril of Buffalo Man, and emitted strange noises that sounded like the soundtrack from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"It uses sound waves to remove mucus," Cheney said. "It makes increasingly loud sounds and it pulsates. It thins out the mucus and helps it come out, instead of it being thick and laying in there."

Worker nearly run down

A potentially disastrous incident was averted during training hours on Friday when an electrician carrying an extension cord walked across the track, head down and oblivious to the dozens of horses galloping and one who was even breezing at the time.

The unidentified worker was halfway across the track in the vicinity of the sixteenth pole as a 2-year-old filly trained by Helen Pitts named If You Love Me turned into the stretch in the midst of a five-furlong work. Fortunately, cries from several onlookers alerted the dazed fellow, who quickly scurried across the track and under the inside rail just as If You Love Me and her rider, Lorna Chavez, passed by.

"It was crazy," Chavez, a former steeplechase rider in her native England, said at Pitts's barn about an hour after the incident. "I saw him as I passed the eighth pole and I knew once he saw me he'd probably drop everything and run. I grabbed my horse a bit and moved out as best I could, and luckily for all of us she is a very smart filly. Another horse might have dug its toes in when they saw the man."

Chavez said the incident was the wildest she has experienced in her nine years galloping here in the U.S. but nothing like what can occur in her native England.

"Horses get loose here on the track all the time, but I've never seen anyone just wander out onto the track like that over here," said Chavez. "Back home nutty things happen all the time when you're out galloping on the moors or around the countryside. I've even had streakers run up to me while galloping a horse at home."

The wandering electrician said: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever done. I know better. It won't happen again."

* Street Sense, last year's Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male, breezed a half-mile in 50.80 seconds on Thursday morning at the Palm Meadows training facility for trainer Carl Nafzger. It was his second work in four days.

* Jockey Eduardo Nunez won the 2,000th race of his career when Cash McCool held on to win Thursday's seventh race at Gulfstream Park.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch