02/10/2007 12:00AM

Forward Gal may be next for Silver Knockers

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Nick Zito, who has already had a dozen second-place finishes during the opening five weeks of the Gulfstream Park meet, told his help earlier this week he needs a "Ruffian" to get out of the rut.

Silver Knockers may not be Ruffian just yet but the 3-year-old filly was good enough not only to get Zito back in the winner's circle but to keep her record perfect by beating a strong field of entry-level allowance rivals here Thursday. The field included the previously undefeated Panty Raid, a highly regarded Todd Pletcher filly.

Silver Knockers, a daughter of Silver Deputy, is owned by the Elk Manor Farm of Jimmy and Matt Moran. They are the son and grandson of Betty Moran, who campaigned 1985 Belmont Stakes winner Creme Fraiche. She is also the breeder of current Kentucky Derby hopeful Hard Spun.

"Silver Knockers is a good filly, although how good I really can't say just yet," said Zito. "That was a pretty salty field she beat the other day. There were some nice horses in there besides Todd's filly."

Zito said he's not sure what he will do next with Silver Knockers.

"I'll look at the Forward Gal," said Zito, referring to the seven-furlong, Grade 3 Forward Gal on March 10. "I guess if we go in there we'll probably wind up meeting some of the fillies coming out of the Old Hat on Saturday. Aside from Dreaming of Anna, of course."

Wait for Scorpius was worthwhile

Trainer Eoin Harty and the Darley Stable were rewarded for their patience when Scorpius outsprinted a strong field of older maidens to win his career debut in Friday's finale.

Scorpius, a 4-year-old son of Five Star Day, broke in stride from the rail under jockey Fernando Jara and never looked back en route to an easy win over the more experienced and highly regarded Hunting, a Shug McGaughey-trained horse. The victory was a culmination of more than two years of waiting for Darley Stable, which purchased Scorpius for $400,000 as a yearling at the 2004 Keeneland September sale.

"He's had two years worth of problems and was on the farm all that time until they finally decided to take a chance and sent him to me in November," said Harty. "He's shown quite a lot of ability from day one and is bred to be fast. That was a pretty tough field he beat. Going in, I would have been happy to finish second to Shug's horse."

Mo Cuishle returns in feature

Mo Cuishle, who registered easy victories in her first three career starts - including the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks - before suffering her only defeat in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap, launches her 4-year-old campaign against five other fillies and mares in Monday's optional claiming feature. The one-mile event will be decided under third-level allowance conditions, and is also open to horses entered for a $75,000 claiming tag.

Mo Cuishle, trained by Todd Pletcher, won her first three starts by a combined 15 lengths. She was the even-money favorite in the Top Flight but was bumped at the start, then stopped badly and finished last after prompting the pace for a half-mile. She has been training steadily for her return at Palm Meadows.

Sciametta downplays his success

Anthony Sciametta returned to his regular job as Pletcher's assistant after winning 20 races, nine more than Bill Mott, during the first five weeks of the meet. Pletcher ran horses in his own name for the first time in 2007 on Saturday.

"Even though my name was on the program it was really a team effort," said Sciametta. "It could have been any of the four assistants Todd has down here this winter. Our goal at the barn, after Todd told us he was taking the days, was to try to keep the program at the high level it's usually at, and I think we succeeded in meeting that goal."