02/16/2006 1:00AM

First Samurai working fast

First Samurai finished second in the Hutcheson in his 2006 debut.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - First Samurai worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds here Thursday morning, after which trainer Frank Brothers said the colt remains a candidate for the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4.

First Samurai, with Brothers's wife, Donna, aboard, completed his final eighth in under 11.60 seconds. It was the first work for First Samurai, a two-time Grade 1 winner, since he finished second to the undefeated Keyed Entry in his 3-year-old debut in the 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson Stakes on Feb. 4.

"I thought he worked well," Frank Brothers said shortly after First Samurai finished cooling out. "I think he came out of his last race as good as a horse could come out of a race like that, especially considering it was his first start off the bench and they ran fast over a fast racetrack. He hasn't missed an oat and has been very sharp since the race."

Brothers continues to contemplate two options for First Samurai's next start, either the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth or the 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 18.

"If the next breeze is good, he comes out of it okay, and he has a couple of good weeks, we'll probably go to the Fountain of Youth," said Brothers.

Edgar Prado replaced the recently retired Jerry Bailey aboard First Samurai in the Hutcheson, and Brothers expects Prado to be aboard again if First Samurai runs in the Fountain of Youth. Prado is also the regular rider for the undefeated Barbaro, whose connections have indicated that he, too, could possibly run in the Fountain of Youth.

"As far as I know now I'm okay in that spot with Edgar," said Brothers.

Zito starts spotting his 3-year-olds

Trainer Nick Zito will run two of his top 3-year-old prospects, Hesanoldsalt and Little Cliff, in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday. He also has mapped out tentative itineraries for several of his other good 3-year-olds, including Great Point, runner-up to Barbaro in the Grade 3 Holy Bull earlier this month.

"Great Point is definite for the Fountain of Youth," Zito said. "There's an outside chance I might run Hemingway's Key in there, too. I'd really prefer a two-other-than allowance for him, but those races just haven't gone. He's not as bad a horse as his effort in the Holy Bull would indicate. He should run much better next time. I don't think he liked the off track that day."

Hemingway's Key, a son of Notebook, won his first two starts but finished 11th after showing brief speed in the Holy Bull.

Zito said he's also looking at a "high-level" allowance race on the Fountain of Youth undercard for Superfly, who finished second after contesting most of the pace going seven furlongs over a sloppy track in his 3-year-old debut. Superfly won his maiden in a stakes race at Delaware, and finished third in the Champagne and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 2.

"The Fountain of Youth is a little too soon for him," said Zito. "He got a pretty good schooling as a 2-year-old, so I don't need to rush him into a race like that, seasoning-wise."

Ailing Barbican out of Southwest

Trainer Eoin Harty said that his 3-year-old Barbican is suffering from an ulcer on his epiglottis and will miss his scheduled start in Monday's Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

"He's being treated with medication. He doesn't need surgery," said Harty. "Hopefully, he can get over it in a week or 10 days."

Barbican, who is stabled at Palm Meadows, has won 2 of his 3 starts, including a first-level allowance race by four lengths on Jan. 15.

Buckram Oak Farm gets going again

It will be business as usual again beginning this weekend for Buckram Oak Farm, according to stable manager Mohammed Moubarak. Buckram Oak suspended operations following the death of owner Mahmoud Fustok on Feb. 9.

"I received a call last night from Mr. Fustok's brother Ahmed, who said to start entering horses again for Saturday," said Moubarak. "He said everything will continue as it was before."

Buckram Oak's top horse is Silver Train, the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner. He is scheduled to make his 2006 debut in the Richter Scale Handicap here on March 4.

Moubarak also said a gathering to honor the memory of Mahmoud Fustok will be held at 4300 North Ocean Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale from 5-8 p.m. on Feb. 25.

"All of Mr. Fustok's family will be in attendance," said Moubarak. Fustok's body was flown back to Saudi Arabia for burial following his death.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman