01/07/2004 12:00AM

Frisky Spider chip off the old block


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Seven years ago, trainer Bob Durso shocked the racing world when he sent out Frisk Me Now to upset Gulfstream Park's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes to the tune of a $213 mutuel. Frisk Me Now went on to earn more than $1.7 million and won races at distances up to 1 1/4 miles.

Wednesday, Durso was back in the Gulfstream winner's circle with Frisky Spider, a son of Frisk Me Now who outgamed the Grade 1 stakes-placed Notorious Rogue in the opening division of a split entry-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds. The win was the second in as many starts for Frisky Spider, who was ridden by Eddie King Jr.

"Just like old times," Durso said. "He's a spitting image of his father, only bigger, and I think he might turn out to be even better than his dad. He's so intelligent, loves to run, and is much more advanced than his father was at this point even though he's less experienced. He's done everything right since last summer."

Durso will be hoping history will repeat when Frisky Spider makes his next start in the Grade 2 Hutcheson on Feb. 14.

"He'll definitely head for the Hutcheson next, although we're not going to sneak up on them this time," said Durso. "He's not going to be 99-1."

Even more impressive than Frisky Spider was the performance of Blushing Indian, who easily won the second division by 7 1/4 lengths over the 8-5 Pollard's Vision. Blushing Vision, a son of Cherokee Run trained by Dale Romans, covered six furlongs in 1:22.86, which was more than a full second faster than the opening split.

The victory was the second in seven starts for Blushing Indian, who finished second behind Chapel Royal in the Grade 2 Sanford and third in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs.

Nonsuch Bay awaits a spot

Trainer Frank Alexander was eager to get his Grade 1 stakes winner Nonsuch Bay back to action as soon as the meet opened. But he was unable to do so when an allowance race failed to fill for her on Sunday.

Nonsuch Bay has not started since finishing second in the Turnback the Alarm Stakes on Nov. 1 at Aqueduct and has run just twice since finishing a distant third behind Sightseek in the Go for Wand on July 27.

"She needed a little freshening after her last start," said Alexander. "We had considered selling her and put her in the Keeneland September broodmare sale but pulled her out after deciding to race her for another year."

Nonsuch Bay worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds for the second time in the last eight days on Tuesday morning as she prepares for her first major race this season, the Grade 3 Sabin on Feb. 15.

"She's doing well and I'm pointing her for the Sabin, but that's a long way off and I'd like to get a race into her first," said Alexander.

Nonsuch Bay won her last two starts here in 2003, including the Banshee Breeze Handicap by 4 1/4 lengths. It was her final victory of the year.

"She's run great over here but kept running into the bears after we left Florida last year," said Alexander.

Alexander is also about ready to get his handicap star Windsor Castle back into the entries. Windsor Castle, who won a pair of Grade 3 races in 2003, including the Hal's Hope here in his season debut, worked a half-mile in 48.80 on Wednesday.

"He had a little suspensory, nothing bad, so I gave him some time and he's on the way back now," said Alexander. "It's too bad we missed the Hal's Hope. That was his race last winter, but if all goes well he should be able to run by Feb. 1."

Second of June breezes a mile for Holy Bull

Until this year, the Florida Derby series for 3-year-olds started each January with the Spectacular Bid Stakes. But that race has been such a non-producer of top contenders that Gulfstream racing secretary Dave Bailey dropped it from the series, replacing it with the Holy Bull Stakes - a race that has been a more realistic starting point, anyway.

The variance between the races is apparent again this year: the $100,000 Spectacular Bid, to be run Saturday at six furlongs, pales in significance with the $100,000 Holy Bull, a 1 1/16-mile race set for the following Saturday.

The Holy Bull is shaping up as a rematch between Second of June and Silver Wagon, the one-three finishers in the Dec. 13 What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder. Silver Wagon was favored in that race, making his first start since a win in the Grade 1 Hopeful, but Second of June proved easily best that day.

Second of June, trained by Bill Cesare, had a major workout for the Holy Bull when he breezed a mile in 1:41.60 at Calder on Wednesday. Clockers caught him going his last six furlongs in 1:13 and change.

Other early probables for the Holy Bull include Friends Lake and Smoocher.

The Spectacular Bid is expected to get just five or six horses, led by Excellent Band, winner of the Huntington and Steward Mitchell stakes, and possibly Smokume, winner of the Cowdin in October. One other solid contender is Saratoga County, a 9 1/4-length winner at Saratoga in late August.

The only other stakes here this weekend is the $100,000 First Lady Handicap, a Grade 3, six-furlong race expected to match Grade 1 winners Harmony Lodge and House Party.

Tiger Heart awaits 3-year-old debut

Like so many other trainers at this time of year, Ken McPeek is hoping that one of his 3-year-olds will make enough progress to become a Kentucky Derby contender.

McPeek believes he has two live prospects in Tiger Heart and Mr. Trieste. Tiger Heart, a sharp maiden winner at Churchill Downs in November, was tentatively scheduled to race in one of the entry-level allowance races that were run here Wednesday, but the colt's owner, Buckram Oak Farm, already had two other horses (Classy Migration and All True) for those races.

"It's just as well," said McPeek. "Now we'll point him to a two-turn race on Jan. 24. I want to go ahead and see how he'll handle a distance anyway."

Mr. Trieste is nearing his first breeze after being away since May, when he posted an impressive maiden triumph at Churchill Downs.

McPeek has had three Derby starters, the last being Harlan's Holiday, seventh in the 2002 running.

A special family moment for Fullers

Former rider turned trainer Abigail Fuller-Catalano saddled her first Gulfstream Park winner when she sent out Petesamassbred to capture Sunday's second race with her longtime friend, jockey Tammy Piermarini, aboard.

Fuller-Catalano was the regular rider for Mom's Command, a homebred owned by her father, Peter Fuller, who captured New York's Triple Tiara series for 3-year-old fillies in 1985. Like Mom's Command, Petesamassbred is owned and bred by her dad.

"This is as excited as I've been in a long time; as excited as when I won all those races with Mom's Command," Fuller-Catalano said after Petesamassbred's victory. "To win my first race at Gulfstream Park with a horse owned and bred by my father is such a thrill."

Fuller-Catalano was a regular rider, trainer, and paddock personality at Suffolk Downs until she relocated to south Florida with her family on a permanent basis last year. Her husband, Mike Catalano, is a former trainer and now assistant at Gulfstream for Dominic Galluscio.

"It's too bad dad couldn't have been here," said Fuller. "He was probably watching this race at Seabrook and buying root beers for everyone after his horse won."

Piermarini, who also won a race for Fuller-Catalano last week at Calder, decided to try her luck here this season when Suffolk closed for the winter and is considering staying around south Florida on a regular basis.

"I really don't know anybody here but Abby and a few of the old Boston people, but a couple of agents have already approached me," said Piermarini, who formerly rode under her maiden name, Tammy Campbell. "I'll wait and see if I can get enough business and then decide whether to stay for Calder or return to Suffolk when they reopen this spring."

Agent's great run of success continues

Put another feather in Ron Anderson's cap. The veteran agent will have represented five of the last six Eclipse Award-winning jockeys if Jerry Bailey wins another Eclipse on Jan. 26, as is widely expected.

Anderson, who began working as a jockey agent in 1973 at Santa Anita, represented such riding stars as Fernando Toro, Gary Stevens, and Chris Antley before moving east in early 2000 to begin working for Bailey. The move clearly has paid off: Bailey has won the Eclipse Award every year that Anderson has worked for him.

Anderson also represented Stevens in 1998, the only year Stevens won an Eclipse. The 1999 Eclipse winner was Jorge Chavez, who then was represented by Richard DePass.

* Funny Cide turned in another bullet work, a half-mile in 47 seconds, at Palm Meadows on Wednesday.

* Gulfstream was quick to correct the oversight that existed for the first few days of the meet: Mark Shuman, whose 87 wins last year set a track record, has been added to the list of annual leading trainers on the black-and-gold honor roll in the racing office.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee