02/28/2006 1:00AM

Dry track should suit Suave

Suave will try to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Donn when he runs in the Gulfstream BC Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Paul McGee believes Mother Nature is to blame for Suave's poor performance as the favorite in last month's Donn Handicap. Unable to handle a sloppy Gulfstream Park main track, Suave faded to sixth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Donn.

With Suave having come out of that race no worse for the wear and with no rain in the forecast for Saturday, McGee will give Suave a chance to redeem himself in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Though Suave had won the Northern Dancer Stakes as a 3-year-old over a sloppy Churchill Downs track, McGee said he believes that no two off tracks are identical. When jockey Edgar Prado got off Suave in the Donn, he told McGee that Suave was simply spinning his wheels.

"I know he had won on a sloppy track, but these are two different sloppy tracks, and I really don't think he handled that track at all," McGee said Tuesday from Louisville. "He was doing so good going into it and he came out of it so good I just have to draw a line through that race."

Suave had a very productive 4-year-old campaign in which he banked $624,900. He won the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup, finished second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, and was beaten a head in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap. He also finished fifth, beaten three lengths by Saint Liam, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Since the Donn, Suave has worked twice at Gulfstream Park, including a solid 1:01 move Sunday, a strong move for a horse who normally doesn't work fast.

With Prado committed to ride Funny Cide, Rene Douglas has picked up the mount on Suave. Douglas is 2 for 5 on Suave, including victories the last two times he has ridden him.

In addition to a fast track, the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Gulfstream Park Handicap should benefit Suave, who has run well in races beyond nine furlongs.

Trainer Nick Zito said Tuesday he is leaning toward starting Sun King in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Sun King, last year's Pennsylvania Derby winner, would be the starting highweight at 117 pounds, followed by Suave (116), O'Connell's (115), Whos Crying Now (115), Funny Cide (114), Harlington (114), Contante (113), and Zoffinger (112).

Brothers: First Samurai losses solid

As impressive as First Samurai was in winning his first four career starts - including the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 1 Champagne - trainer Frank Brothers said he believes First Samurai has been just as impressive in his two defeats.

First Samurai, who gets his first two-turn test in Saturday's Fountain of Youth, finished third in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile to end his 2-year-old campaign and second in last month's Hutcheson Stakes to begin his 3-year-old season.

In the Breeders' Cup, First Samurai was fractious at the gate, got away slowly, and was in ninth position in the early stages of the race. That he closed so well to be third after having raced on or near the lead in his first four starts was noteworthy to Brothers.

"I think the Breeders' Cup might have been his best race," Brothers said while sitting in his Gulfstream Park barn office Tuesday. "He was taken out of his game, and many young horses when they're taken out of their game, that's it. I thought that was the mark of a pretty good horse."

In the Hutcheson, First Samurai chased Keyed Entry through hot fractions and was never able to catch him in the slop, losing by 1 1/4 lengths. The final time of 1:27.12 was a track record for 7 1/2 furlongs.

"My horse did everything right other than he didn't win," Brothers said. "He ran a dynamite race off the bench, which isn't a given. His stride was good at the end. He stayed on and kept fighting, which was a good sign."

First Samurai is expected to face nine in the Fountain of Youth, none of whom has won a stakes race on dirt. Can't Beat That won the Hallandale Beach on turf. Great Point, My Golden Song, Flashy Bull, and Itsallaboutthechase, the second-through fifth-place finishers in the Holy Bull, are expected to run, as are Corinthian, Jazil, Hemingway's Key, and Rehoboth.

On Tuesday at Palm Meadows, Corinthian and Itsallaboutthechase both worked four furlongs in 48.20 seconds.

Tagg maiden winner heads for stakes

Trainer Barclay Tagg said he plans to send impressive maiden winner Showing Up directly into stakes company in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Swale for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

Showing Up, a son of Strategic Mission, overcame significant trouble to win his debut here Feb. 11 by four lengths under Javier Castellano. After breaking slowly and being forced to check on the backstretch, Showing Up rallied wide to win going away. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.68 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

"He had a very good number first time out, and he does things so easy, the jock never asked him to run at all," Tagg said. "I wouldn't put him in a high-pressure race if I thought it was high pressure."

On Tuesday, Showing Up worked a half-mile in 48.20 seconds at Gulfstream under Castellano.

Magna Graduate, Host to Dubai

Todd Pletcher confirmed on Monday that Magna Graduate will run in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 25 at Nad Al Sheba. Pletcher will also send Host to Dubai for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free.

Pletcher had once considered the Santa Anita Handicap for Magna Graduate, but in the end the allure of a $6 million pot won him over. On Monday, Magna Graduate worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Palm Meadows. Magna Graduate will likely breeze on Sunday and will ship to Dubai on March 14.

Pletcher will send Host to Dubai despite his eighth-place finish in the Appleton Handicap here on Feb. 11.

"The ground was really hard. He never seemed to fire," Pletcher said. "He came out of it fine. I guess you can excuse him for one bad race."