01/13/2007 1:00AM

DQ sours Zito's good mood


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hesanoldsalt's final prep for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap should have put nothing but a smile on the face of trainer Nick Zito after the son of Broad Brush turned in a courageous effort to edge a dead-game Better Than Bonds in Friday's featured ninth race at Gulfstream Park.

Instead, Zito had all he could do to control his anger after the stewards disqualified Hesanoldsalt and placed him second for interfering with Better Than Bonds through the stretch of the $57,500 allowance race.

Hesanoldsalt finished a neck in front of Better Than Bonds following a stretch-long duel in which the pair brushed several times. Jockey Rafael Bejarano was on the outside aboard Hesanoldsalt, sticking his horse right-handed, and Edgar Prado, astride Better Than Bonds, was hitting left-handed from nearest the rail. Following a claim of foul by Prado and a stewards' inquiry, the original order of finish was reversed.

"Anyway you want to put it I am upset," Zito said several minutes after the race became official. "I think it's a disgrace. I didn't see any foul. I respect the stewards but I didn't respect that call. I just don't think after watching the videotape several times there was any conclusive evidence that my horse caused a foul. My question is if the other horse had beaten me after what happened through the stretch, would they have put up an inquiry and taken him down? It's a controversial call and the stewards have to be held accountable."

Bernie Hettel, serving his first winter in the Gulfstream Park stewards' stand, explained the reasoning behind the disqualification.

"At the top of the stretch the two horses were in the four to five path, and Nick's horse bore in under right- hand pressure, and by the time they came to the wire they were in the one path," said Hettel. "In deeper stretch they bumped and brushed consistently to the wire, and given the finish was less than a head, in our opinion that was enough to make a disqualification."

Hettel said Bejarano was given a three day suspension for careless riding as a result of the incident.

Despite losing the win, Zito was delighted with Hesandoldsalt's performance and hopes the effort sets him up well for the Donn on Feb. 3.

"He was carrying 124 pounds out there today, the other horse was coming out into him and he still managed to win," said Zito. "He's a fighter and he's got to drop lots of weight for the Donn, being only a Grade 3 winner going up against a multiple Grade 1 winner like Invasor."

Prado off to a solid start

Edgar Prado was credited with his fourth win of the day when Better Than Bonds was elevated to first following the disqualification of Hesanoldsalt.

"I thought the result was close enough that the little incident at the top of the stretch and what happened all the way through the stretch warranted me claiming foul," Prado said. "I have to look after the best interests of the people I ride for in cases like that. If the other horse had blown by me and won by a couple of lengths, it might have been a different story."

Prado has gotten off to a good start during the opening week of the 2007 meet. He also won the first two stakes of the meet, the Mr. Prospector and Ft. Lauderdale.

"We've still got a long way to go but I'm happy with the way we've started," said Prado. "Right now I'm still looking for a Derby horse. Last year I had Barbaro, but unfortunately those kind don't come around too often."

Prado is one of the three finalists for an Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2006.

Nobiz Like Shobiz works swiftly

Nobiz Like Shobiz turned in his fastest work since he returned to serious training earlier this month when he breezed five furlongs in 58.72 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.18 under jockey Cornelio Velasquez on Saturday.

"I didn't want him to go that fast, but he did it pretty easily and we've got to get a fast work into him at some point," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "As long as he comes out of it okay on Sunday we'll keep on plugging."

Nobiz Like Shobiz is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3.