01/02/2003 1:00AM

Early zip favors Day Trader


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Day Trader, who is at his best when racing clear on an early lead, could find the pace scenario to his advantage when he takes on five rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Also on the 12-race program is the Grade 2 Appleton Handicap.

Day Trader led throughout to post his most important victory in 2002, a 3 1/4-length decision in Turfway Park's Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint. The win was one of three on the year for Day Trader, a son of Phone Trick who also posted a second-place finish behind Xtra Heat in the Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup.

Day Trader, who finished 11th behind stablemate Orientate after being forced to check at the break in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, closed out his 3-year-old campaign finishing fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the Great State Challenge Sprint at Sam Houston.

"The pace scenario was all wrong for him in Texas," said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Day Trader for Overbrook Farm. "There was nothing but speed in that field."

Pat Day, who rode Day Trader to two of his three wins last year, including the Kentucky Cup Sprint, will be back aboard for the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector.

Only three pounds separates the highweight Out of Fashion from the lowest weighted in an evenly matched Mr. Prospector. The race lost defending champion Hook and Ladder due to a throat ailment just prior to entry time.

Out of Fashion will tote top weight of 115 pounds, which is 13 fewer pounds than he carried to a fourth-place finish in the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct in his only start outside of Delaware in 2002. Out of Fashion, claimed by owner Mike Gill for $16,000 in his 2002 debut, won three of his last four starts prior to finishing just two lengths behind the winning True Direction in the Fall Highweight.

The remainder of the Mr. Prospector line-up is Bet on Joe, Baileys Edge, Harmony Hall, and Friendly Frolic.

Bet on Joe has shipped in from the Midwest, where he closed out 2002 with a 7 1/4-length win in an optional claiming race at Hawthorne. He received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

Baileys Edge is another Midwest invader. His lone victory last year came over a muddy track at Keeneland.

Harmony Hall, third here a year ago in the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes, comes off a win in Calder's restricted That's Our Buck Handicap.