03/24/2008 11:00PM

Elysium Fields gets his work


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Tuesday was a busy morning for trainer Barclay Tagg. But when it was over, the man who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby with Funny Cide had gotten important works into two of his three current Derby prospects, including Elysium Fields, who will be among the favorites in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby were scheduled to be drawn Wednesday. Among Elysium Fields's main opponents will be Big Brown, Hey Byrn, and Fierce Wind.

Tagg's hectic Tuesday began at Gulfstream, where Elysium Fields worked five furlongs in 1:00 over a racetrack that had finally dried out and was rated fast following several days of heavy rain. It ended a couple of hours later about 45 miles up the turnpike at Palm Meadows, where Tale of Ekati breezed a half-mile in 47.80 seconds from the gate as he continues to prepare for his start in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct.

Tagg had hoped to work Elysium Fields on Monday but a sloppy track foiled those plans. Fortunately, conditions were much more conducive Tuesday morning, the final window of opportunity Tagg had to breeze Elysium Fields if he was to run as scheduled in the Florida Derby.

"It was down to crunch time because I really prefer to run him here," Tagg said. "He's doing super. In fact, all three of my potential Kentucky Derby starters are doing well. I really couldn't be luckier."

Along with Elysium Fields and Tale of Ekati, Tagg has Tampa Bay Derby winner Big Truck under consideration for the Kentucky Derby.

Elysium Fields, a homebred owned by Robert Evans, began his 3-year-old campaign a maiden but has blossomed this winter after Tagg added blinkers for the colt's 2008 debut. A son of El Prado, Elysium responded with an impressive eight-length maiden special weight victory going 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 19, then came back to finish a game second from a tough outside post position behind Cool Coal Man in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth five weeks later.

"He's the perfect type of horse for the Triple Crown," Tagg said of Elysium Fields. "He's got the breeding, the size, the strength, and the way he moves gives him all the attributes a horse needs for those types of races."

Elysium Fields was one of three Florida Derby hopefuls to work around south Florida on Tuesday morning. Big Brown, undefeated, untested, and the latest sensation of the 3-year-old division, worked five furlongs in 59.20 at Palm Meadows. The move was the fastest of 39 at the distance on Tuesday's tab.

Smooth Air, winner of the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes here in January, also worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:02 over a fast but cuppy racetrack at Calder.