02/12/2007 12:00AM

'Doldrums' will target Gotham


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Three years after making it to his first Kentucky Derby, trainer Rick Violette may be headed down the Triple Crown trail yet again.

Summer Doldrums, a non-descript 2-year-old, had his coming-out party last Saturday at Aqueduct, rolling to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Whirlaway Stakes. He ran 1 1/16 miles in a stakes-record 1:42.23 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106, the best number of any 3-year-old routing this year.

"That's the horse I thought I was running in the Remsen,'' said Violette, referring to Summer Doldrums' seventh-place finish behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in last November's Grade 2 race. "He came around. We liked this horse from day one. I was pointing him out to [trainer] Eoin Harty at Palm Meadows in February and March of last year.''

Summer Doldrums, a son of Street Cry, ran third and second, respectively, in his first two career starts - both at 5 1/2 furlongs. He won a one-turn mile maiden race by 1 1/2 lengths on Oct. 14 at Belmont before finishing 19 1/2 lengths behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Remsen, a performance that prompted Violette to leave the colt in New York this winter despite sending a string to Florida.

"In Florida, an a-other-than can be like a Grade 1 sometimes,'' Violette said. "We were thrown for a loop why he ran so poorly in the Remsen; we still don't have a good answer for it. As mild as the winter was until recently, we saw no reason to ship him down to Florida.''

Violette entered Summer Doldrums in the Count Fleet here on Jan. 5, but scratched when the horse drew an outside post position. One week later, Summer Doldrums won a mile-and-70 yard allowance race by 8o1/2 lengths, coming from three lengths off the pace. Saturday, Summer Doldrums dueled head and head with Sports Town through six furlongs in 1:11.35 before pulling away in the stretch under Mike Luzzi.

"He can go to the lead, stalk, split horses, he's a pretty handy little dude,'' Violette said.

Violette plans to keep Summer Doldrums in New York and point to the Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham Stakes, run under the same conditions as the Whirlaway. Violette is somewhat concerned that four weeks could be running back too quick off such a huge speed figure, but he isn't enamored with the alternatives.

"There's every bit a chance he could go backwards off the Whirlaway, but maybe we could still get the job done,'' Violette said.

Three years ago, Violette trained Read the Footnotes, who ended his 2-year-old campaign with a huge win in the Remsen and began his 3-year-old season with a big-figure, gut-wrenching victory in the Fountain of Youth. After bouncing and finishing fourth in the Florida Derby, Read the Footnotes finished seventh behind Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby, was injured in that race, and never ran again.

"Going into the [far] turn we were right behind Smarty Jones and Robby [Albarado] is sitting chilly,'' Violette said, recalling the 2004 Derby. "An eighth of a mile later he's scrubbing on him and we run evenly thereafter. If you put me at the same place at the half-mile pole [of this year's Derby] and we have to depend on the health of the horse to get me home, I'll take it any day.''

Sir Whimsey and Sports Town, the respective second- and third-place finishers from the Whirlaway, are also pointing to the Gotham. Michael Miceli, the trainer of Sir Whimsey, said he was very pleased with the trip his horse received under Eibar Coa.

"I thought everything went well for him,'' said Miceli, a former jockey who rode in the 1974 Kentucky Derby. "He broke well, he was positioned nicely, Coa saved ground going into the first turn and he made one run with him, which is kind of what we wanted. Before, he would make two moves in a race, and I think it took away a little bit from his finish.''

In his first start around two turns, Sports Town dueled outside of Summer Doldrums and "he just got tired,'' according to assistant trainer Tonja Terranova.

Two taking a pass on Stymie

Mayan King bounced back from a disappointing fifth in the Aqueduct Handicap with a gritty neck victory in an allowance race here last Friday. In that same race, the veteran gelding Evening Attire ran a respectable third in his first start in almost nine months.

Despite the solid efforts by both horses, neither one is expected to run back in the $65,000 Stymie Handicap here on March 3.

Mayan King made most of the early pace in the allowance race, was passed by Monopoly Pricing in midstretch, but came back along the rail to earn a half-length victory.

"I thought he was back,'' trainer Gary Contessa said. "I thought he ran good. I would have been very disappointed if he didn't come back and win that race, because I thought I brought over the best horse and he certainly showed his class, and that's what good horses are supposed to do.''

Contessa said that Mayan King would probably need plenty of time to recover from that race and that he would look to see the next condition book before determining where to run him next.

Meanwhile, trainer Pat Kelly was happy with Evening Attire's third-place finish. The 9-year-old gelding was last early, but came with a solid outside stretch run on what has been an inside-speed-favoring surface.

"I had no thoughts of winning even going into it,'' Kelly said. "He ran really great. He broke so good, they sawed him off and then they ran away from him a little bit.''

Kelly said he may wait for the opening of Aqueduct's main track before running Evening Attire again. The horse is 5 for 7 over the main track with four stakes wins.