03/10/2004 12:00AM

Frisky Spider adds unexpected speed


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Rick Violette's best dream and colleague Todd Pletcher's worst nightmare were realized Wednesday when Frisky Spider was among the late entrants that swelled the starting lineup to 10 for Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Violette will saddle morning-line favorite Read the Footnotes, while Pletcher sends out his main rival, Value Plus, in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby. Violette had been fearful Value Plus might steal the race if allowed to relax on the lead but the presence of the speedy Frisky Spider should assure an honest pace in the Grade 1 race.

"I'm thrilled Frisky Spider is in," said Violette. "It makes it unlikely anybody is going to get loose and makes Value Plus's job a little tougher. It's supposed to take one of my nightmare scenarios away."

Violette was also pleased with the fact Read the Footnotes will break from post 3 in the 10-horse field.

"We should be forwardly placed on the inside," said Violette.

Pletcher was not only disheartened by the news Frisky Spider had been entered in the Florida Derby but also the fact he and Value Plus will break adjacent to one another. Value Plus drew post 8 and Frisky Spider the 9 at Wednesday's post position draw.

"I heard Frisky Spider was also going to be cross-entered in the Swale and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he decided not to run in this race," said Pletcher. "Obviously I'd prefer to be loose on the lead. Ideally I'd also rather be on his outside than inside, but there's not much I can do about that."

Frisky Spider suffered his first defeat in four starts when he finished seventh behind Read the Footnotes after setting the early pace in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He will race in blinkers for the first time Saturday, and trainer Bob Durso is making no bones about his Florida Derby strategy.

"This horse is going to be tough the first part of it with the blinkers on. He'll be whistling at every crossing," which was Durso's way of saying to expect his horse to be on the lead.

Tapit enters the race idle since his victory in the Laurel Futurity on Nov. 15.

"He's not going in 100 percent fit and I'd be happy if he finished third," said trainer Michael Dickinson.

Sir Oscar was transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson after suffering his first defeat in seven starts in the Fountain of Youth. He was found to have bled in the race and runs on Lasix for the first time in the Florida Derby.