02/02/2008 12:00AM

Dirt, not distance, is Titan of Industry's test

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Titan of Industry has shown potential around two turns on grass. Now trainer Rick Violette needs to find out if his promising 3-year-old can run equally well on dirt, a question that should be answered Monday when Titan of Industry makes his main-track debut in a 1 1/8-mile entry-level allowance at Gulfstream Park.

Titan of Industry, a son of Giant's Causeway, has made all four career starts on turf. He won his maiden at second asking going a mile at Aqueduct, finished third after encountering trouble on the far turn in the Laurel Futurity, and most recently checked home fifth following a very slow start in Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby. Both the Laurel Futurity and Tropical Park Derby were won by Cowboy Cal, another turf specialist whose connections plan to try him on dirt in the near future.

"He breezes well enough on dirt," Violette said of Titan of Industry. "And before we give away his whole 3-year-old career, we're supposed to investigate and see if he'll go two turns on dirt. If we're going to find out that's the case, I'd rather find out in February than October."

Violette sent Titan of Industry back to the gate for some additional schooling following his misadventure at the start of the Tropical Park Derby.

"He was just awful out of the gate at Calder and gave up far more ground than he got beat that day," said Violette. "I rarely break horses from the gate once they've started, but I need to see if this was going to be an issue."

Violette said he gave Titan of Industry a work from the gate with two other horses on Jan. 24.

"He broke like a jackrabbit and opened up five lengths right off the bat. Hopefully he'll break equally as well on Monday."

Titan of Industry will face seven other 3-year-olds, including Aquarian, who makes his first start since winning his maiden when stretched to nine furlongs for the first time in his 2-year-old finale at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. Trained by Nick Zito, Aquarian has worked steadily and at times spectacularly for his return, with a pair of bullet half-mile works at Palm Meadows in January.

The stretch-running Titan of Industry and Aquarian will both benefit if Atwell and Mambo Meister engage in the same type of speed duel that burned out both of them when they met at a mile here on Jan. 4. Atwell and Mambo Meister finished fifth and sixth behind Visionaire following an early pace battle.