02/04/2004 1:00AM

Eurosilver shines in 2004 bow


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Eurosilver began his quest for a start in the 2004 Kentucky Derby with a five-length victory over Tenace and three other outclassed rivals in Wednesday's third race at Gulfstream Park.

Eurosilver was making his first start since his convincing victory in the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 4. Under regular rider Javier Castellano, Eurosilver contested the early pace three wide before asserting his superiority and drawing well clear of Tenace in the final furlong of the seven-furlong dash, which was run under second-level allowance conditions.

Eurosilver, a son of Unbridled's Song, paid $2.40 after covering the distance in 1:24.45 over a fast track.

"Whenever you wait four months to bring a horse back there's always a little anxiety," said Nick Zito, who trains Eurosilver for the Buckram Oak Farm. "This was a good race for him. The track was a little on the heavy side today, and he got a little tired at the end."

Zito said he plans to bring Eurosilver back in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at seven furlongs on the undercard for the March 14 Florida Derby.

"He's already gone two turns and I know he can handle it, so I think giving him another seven-furlong race is a good option," said Zito. "It gives me five weeks to get him ready, and there should be a lot of fast horses in the field, which hopefully will allow us to sit off the pace. If all goes well, he'll go on to the Blue Grass and then the Kentucky Derby."

Zito also laid out plans for his other three Kentucky Derby candidates.

"I'll bring Birdstone back in a second-level allowance race going a mile and 70 yards a week from Saturday on the Fountain of Youth undercard," said Zito. "El Prado Rob will run in the Fountain of Youth, while The Cliff's Edge could possibly return in Tampa's Sam Davis on Feb. 21."

Silver Wagon suffers stone bruise

The news wasn't as good for Buckram Oak's other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Silver Wagon. Trainer Ralph Ziadie said Silver Wagon suffered a stone bruise in his right front foot over the weekend and has not been to the track to train since Sunday.

Silver Wagon was scheduled to run in the Fountain of Youth, but may miss the race.

"We'll take things day by day," said Ziadie. "We've been treating the foot three times a day and, hopefully, he'll be able to return to the track Friday or Saturday. But I don't know if we can still make the Fountain of Youth. We're not going to force the issue. He's too good a horse and it's too long a year to take any chances."

Silver Wagon won the Grade 1 Hopeful at 2 and is coming off a second-place finish behind Second of June in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes earlier in the meet.

Strong allowance race on Friday

Did Cellars Shiraz need her last two starts, or has she had it? That is the question that could be answered in Friday's featured ninth race, a turf allowance race at about one mile in which Cellars Shiraz will attempt to rebound from two dull tries.

A multiple stakes winner, Cellars Shiraz faced 19 runners in two starts since returning from a seven-month layoff. She finished behind 18 of them. Now, however, she returns to the Gulfstream turf, over which she has never finished worse than second in four starts, and is taking a significant drop in class.

In her most recent start, Cellars Shiraz beat one horse in the Sunshine Millions Distaff on dirt. Her last two races have been uncharacteristic for a mare who has won 10 of 29 starts, with seven second-place finishes.

Stay Forever is another with back class who is capable of improving on her recent form. She beat one horse when she returned from a nine-month layoff in December's My Charmer Handicap at Calder.

Delta Princess, the runner-up in the Violet Handicap at The Meadowlands in October, is unbeaten in two starts at Gulfstream.

A longshot to consider is Paga. Her front-running style figures to be enhanced with the turf rails scheduled to be set at 30 feet.

Friday's feature anchors a surprisingly strong card that includes four allowance races and two races for maidens, including the sixth, in which the Storm Cat filly Platinum Heights, a $2.8 million yearling purchase, makes her debut.

Society Selection gets Bailey

Society Selection will have a new rider, Jerry Bailey, when she launches her 3-year-old campaign in Saturday's Davona Dale Stakes.

Bailey worked Society Selection five furlongs here Wednesday in 1:00 shortly after the second renovation break. She went in fractions of 36.59 seconds and 48.14, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.46.

Bailey replaces Ray Ganpath, who rode Society Selection in each of her three 2-year-old starts. Society Selection, a daughter of Coronado's Quest owned by Irving and Marjorie Cowan, won a maiden race and the Grade 1 Frizette before concluding her 2003 campaign with a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Allen Jerkens was originally planning to work Society Selection seven furlongs earlier in the week but had to change his schedule after weekend rains left the racetrack in poor shape for several days.

"I really wanted to work her further because she hasn't run in so long," said Jerkens. "But I still don't think she'll need a race. It may just depend on how hot it is Saturday. Some horses just don't like the heat."

Jerkens said he is taking it one race at a time with Society Selection, although the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss on March 6 would be a logical option for her next start if all goes well Saturday.

"I'd like to run her in the two races here and then take her to New York for the 3-year-old series up there," he said. "The Kentucky Oaks is probably not a consideration at this point unless the Cowans decide they want to go there."

Well Fancied going to General George

Well Fancied worked five furlongs in 59.60 under jockey Edgar Prado Tuesday, matching Eclipse Award winner and fellow New York-bred Funny Cide's time for the fastest work of the day at Palm Meadows. But Well Fancied's trainer, Dick Dutrow, was quick to dispel any notions about throwing his horse to the wolves in Saturday's $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap here.

"I'm sending him to the [$200,000] General George at Laurel the following weekend," said Dutrow. "It's a lot more money against a lot easier competition. This race here is coming up awfully tough."

The 6 1/2-furlong Deputy Minister field is expected to include Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat, Grade 1 winner Gygistar, 2002 Fall Highweight winner True Direction, Alke, and Coach Jimi Lee.

"I'll send him right up to New York after the General George," said Dutrow. "He's been training like a freight train down here, but he likes Belmont and I want to have him fresh and ready for the New York-bred races this summer."

Aside from Funny Cide, Well Fancied was the king of the New York-breds last year, with easy victories in the Evan Shipman and General Douglas MacArthur handicaps and a half-length win over Gander in the Empire Classic.

Dutrow is making a similar move with Saint Liam, passing Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap to await what he believes will be a much easier spot in the New Orleans Handicap on Feb. 29. Saint Liam is coming off a pair of allowance victories, including a four-length win here Jan. 18 that earned him a career best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

"It took a little while to figure out things with him, but I really like the way he's come around," said Dutrow. "The Donn is too close to his last start and too tough. By going to Fair Grounds, I can fly him out Wednesday, give him a couple of breezes over the track, and get him to the race the right way. This might be the best horse I've ever had."

Dr. Kathy: Trip for nothing

Dutrow also voiced his displeasure that the $60,000 Gaily Gaily Stakes, which was canceled along with the last eight races on Sunday's program, would not be brought back.

"I shipped Dr. Kathy down from New York specifically with that race in mind and now they're not going to use it," said Dutrow.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman