01/20/2003 1:00AM

Familiar feeling for McPeek

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Ken McPeek has to be wondering what he's got to do to win the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes.

McPeek was on the short end of a tough beat in the Holy Bull for the second straight year after Powerful Touch dropped a head decision to Offlee Wild on Saturday. A year ago he suffered a similar fate when Harlan's Holiday was beaten three-quarters of a length by Booklet in the Holy Bull, the first major Kentucky Derby prep of the local season.

McPeek did wind up having the last laugh last winter when Harlan's Holiday rebounded from his narrow defeats to Booklet in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth Stakes to win the $1 million Florida Derby.

"Last year I got beat in a photo by [Jorge] Chavez in the Holy Bull and this year I've got Jorge on my horse and I get beat in a photo again," McPeek said with a smile. "But seriously, I couldn't be more pleased with my horse's effort. I knew two turns was going to be a good thing for him, and I think he's only going to improve, especially if he learns to relax a little more. Jorge had a little trouble getting him to settle down during the early stages of the race, but the horse showed a lot of heart."

McPeek said Powerful Touch will follow in Harlan's Holiday's footsteps and likely make his next start in the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth on Feb. 15. He was less certain of what path he will take with his other Kentucky Derby candidate, Ten Cents a Shine, who has yet to make his 3-year-old debut.

"I'm still undecided what I'll do with him next," said McPeek. "The Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby are both possible goals for both my 3-year-olds, as is the Blue Grass and Wood, and I'd probably look to keep them separated for as long as possible."

No excuses for Added Edge

The biggest disappointment in the Holy Bull was the previously undefeated Added Edge, who finished 13th and last as the 9-5 favorite.

"He bled just a touch, but I really don't have any excuse for the way he ran," said trainer Mark Casse. "I thought he trained great and looked great going into the race but Saturday just wasn't his day I guess. If he got beat one length or two lengths I might have thought he just wasn't good enough. But after he got beat like that I just have to throw the race out all together, because I know he's much better than that."

Despite the poor showing in the Holy Bull, Casse said he plans to wheel Added Edge back next month in the Fountain of Youth.

"He'll race on Lasix the next time," said Casse. "This one hurt, but we're not finished yet."

Bham may Skip Fountain of Youth

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he also had little excuse for Bham, who finished a tiring third as the 5-2 second choice in the Holy Bull. He said the Fountain of Youth was an option but he would probably be inclined to look elsewhere for his horse's next start.

Funny Cide also suffered his first setback in four starts on Saturday but distinguished himself in defeat, finishing fifth in the Holy Bull despite being forced to race extremely wide after breaking from post 13.

"Actually, I was pleased he ran as well as he did," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "He was forced out to about the 18 path going to the seven-furlong pole and there was no recovering after that. He could have just tossed in the towel and quit once that happened, but he didn't."

Tagg remained uncommitted as to his future plans for Funny Cide.

"I have the Fountain of Youth, Louisiana Derby, and Florida Derby to choose from, and we'll probably go in one of them," said Tagg.

Sky Mesa, another potential Fountain of Youth candidate, worked for the first time this winter going three furlongs in 39.20 seconds at Palm Beach Downs on Sunday.

"He went right back to the track and galloped this morning and I was very pleased with him," trainer John Ward said Monday of the undefeated Sky Mesa.

"Fountain of Youth day will probably provide us with the first opportunity to run him, but whether it will be short or long I'm not sure yet. We'll let him tell us."

Mt. Vaughan to have surgery

One of the most impressive performances by a 3-year-old on Saturday's card came early in the day, when Mt. Vaughan drew off to an impressive maiden allowance win around two turns.

Unfortunately, trainer Nick Zito's joy was short-lived as his promising 3-year-old colt pulled up lame and had to be vanned off after the race.

"He suffered a condylar fracture in his left hind leg and will be operated on this week," said Zito. According to Zito, jockey Eibar Coa said the break "happened when he stumbled after the wire."

Mt. Vaughan, a son of Mt. Livermore, is owned by Marylou Whitney.

"Even though he is by Mt. Livermore, I had a feeling he wanted to go long," said Zito. "I think Marylou's husband, John Hendrickson, summed it up best. He said the highs in this business are so high but unfortunately sometimes they last for only a few seconds."