01/10/2005 12:00AM

Diamond Wildcat serves notice

Wildcat Heir, here winning the Icecapade at Monmouth, may start next at Gulfstream Park.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Diamond Wildcat won't be mentioned on anybody's Kentucky Derby list, but he just may be a 3-year-old to keep an eye on in middle-distance races this winter and spring.

Diamond Wildcat made a successful foray around two turns on Sunday when he led gate to wire to take an entry-level allowance race at Aqueduct. Under Stewart Elliott, Diamond Wildcat, took some early pressure from Heza Storm, and then drew off to a 1 1/2-length victory over Byanosejoe while running a mile in 1:38.66. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

While perhaps aided by the speed-favoring nature of Aqueduct's inner track, Diamond Wildcat won while failing to change leads through the stretch. It was the third straight race in which he failed to do that.

"He hung on his left lead the whole way," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "It seems like he runs in spurts a little bit."

That immaturity plus the size of the field were why Perkins didn't enter Diamond Wildcat in the Count Fleet Stakes, a race that will be run this Saturday after having been postponed when last Saturday's card was canceled after the third race. Perkins was also considering running Diamond Wildcat in Monday's Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at six furlongs, but preferred the idea of Sunday's two-turn mile race, one put up by the racing office only after the Count Fleet overfilled.

"He's out of a Quiet American mare, and of all the Forest Wildcat's we bred he's the one that always looked like he'd have a shot to stretch out a little more," said Perkins, who trains Diamond Wildcat for Ebby Novak's New Farm, which raced Forest Wildcat.

Perkins said that if all goes well between now and Feb. 12, Diamond Wildcat will most likely run in the $75,000 Whirlaway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. That race is supposed to be the 3-year-old debut of Galloping Grocer, the talented New York-bred who was beaten a neck in the Remsen.

The disappointment of Sunday's allowance race was Benjamin Baby, who finished a well-beaten fifth after chasing the pace. His connections will most likely cut him back to sprints.

Wildcat Heir may try Sunshine Millions

Perkins said he has not yet made a decision on whether Wildcat Heir will run in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. Wildcat Heir, who won the Grade 1 De Francis Dash at Pimlico in November, was recently certified as a Florida-bred after having been mistakenly registered as a Kentucky-bred.

"We're kind of thinking about that, but we're not 100 percent sure," Perkins said. "We were going to stop on him and give him a little time and bring him back in the spring or maybe get one more start out of him. We'll make up our minds this week."

Wildcat Heir is currently in training at Gulfstream Park where Ben Perkins Sr. is overseeing a four-horse string of his son's horses.

Pre-entries for the Sunshine Millions are due on Jan. 19, with post positions drawn Jan. 24.

Trainers like postponement

At least two horsemen were happy that the $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes was postponed when the jockeys refused to ride after Saturday's third race. The Count Fleet will be redrawn on Thursday and run this Saturday.

Tom Bush, the trainer of Tani Maru, said he most likely would have scratched out of the Count Fleet after watching how poorly his two runners performed earlier on Saturday's card.

"I was totally relieved," Bush said. "I was probably going to scratch him after I ran that horse in the third."

Bush was referring to Cockeyed Optimist, who finished ninth of 11 in the third.

Seth Benzel, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, also liked the fact the Count Fleet wasn't run Saturday. Killenaule had run once over a wet track and finished third. Also, Benzel wasn't crazy about Killenaule's post 8 draw.

The postponement "might help us out a little bit," Benzel said. "We got a chance to work again, a better track hopefully, a new draw. The outside wasn't going to be a terrible thing for him, but at the same time let's try it again and see where we end up."

On Monday, Killenaule put in a sharp five-furlong work in 1:00.94 over the Belmont Park training track. Perhaps the most impressive part of the move was how strongly he galloped out. The exercise rider could not pull him up until he entered the far turn.

Coast Line may be Laurel-bound

Coast Line, who won his fourth consecutive race when he wired an allowance field here Friday, could make his next start in the $125,000 John B. Campbell Breeders' Cup Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 19, Benzel said. Another option is the $200,000 General George Handicap there two days later.

The Campbell is run at 1 1/8 miles, while the General George is at seven furlongs.

"We're leaning toward the mile and an eighth race to see if handles a little more distance,'' Benzel said. "Everything he's shown us so far indicates he'd be able to handle it."

Benzel said that jockey Richard Migliore told him that "he had a lot of horse and had him on idle toward the end. When he asked him he kicked in and gave him quite a response.''

Last Friday, Coast Line ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.99 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98. Benzel said the timing of the Campbell makes more sense than wheeling Coast Line back in the Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 22. Besides, Benzel will have Tales of Glory to saddle in the Aqueduct.

* Migliore rode six winners last week, bringing him to 3,991 for his career.