01/15/2005 12:00AM

Gotta Rush in no hurry to peak yet


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Her name is Gotta Rush, but rushing is the farthest thing from trainer Lloyd "Pete" Palmer's mind as he prepares his Wild Rush filly for her 3-year old campaign.

On Saturday, a solid group ran in the six-furlong Sandpiper Stakes, the first leg in Tampa Bay Challenge Series for 3-year old fillies, but Gotta Rush wasn't in the lineup.

"Our ultimate goal here is the Florida Oaks and we want her to have two races going into that race," Palmer said. "She's going to be better the farther she runs so we're pointing for the Gasparilla on Feb. 6 at seven furlongs, then the Suncoast at a mile and a sixteenth [Feb. 26] before the big race."

That's pretty much the same road that Gotta Rush's mother, Silver Stocking, took. Silver Stocking won both the Gasparilla and Suncoast but unfortunately didn't make it to the Oaks. Now her daughter is poised to try and outdo her.

A dazzling winner at first asking at Delaware Park, Gotta Rush finished third next out before coming from well off the pace over that speed-favoring oval to score her second win. She returned in the Selima Stakes at Pimlico and ran third to Hear Us Roar in a race that lacked much early pace.

"After that race we just gave her some time," Palmer said. "She's making the progression from a little girl to a maturing young lady very nicely. She's not quite as big as her mother, but she's very bright and has a bit more common sense.

"Now we just have to wait to see how far she'll take us."

Umana named jockey of the week

Jockey Juan Umana was voted jockey of the week at Tampa Bay.

Umana has won 7 races from 38 mounts from Jan. 1 through Friday, and went into Saturday with 12 winners at the current meet.

A quiet fellow, Umana is a solid example of what hard work and perseverance can produce. The Eclipse Award-winning apprentice in 1993, Umana has almost 1,400 career winners.

At the top of the leader board, Jesus Castanon and T.D. Houghton, who has been on a tear of late, are locked up in a tight battle for leading rider.

Through Friday's card Castanon had 27 winners and Houghton, who got off to slower start than Castanon, had 26.

Training horses a Cataldi family affair

Trainer Tony Cataldi has been visiting winner's circles since the days of Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs. So when his daughter, Sandy Cataldi, sent out her first winner as a trainer here last week, Tickle My Rib in a maiden claimer on Tuesday, she knew the drill.

Sandy Cataldi, 39, has had only a handful of starters, but she is no stranger to the business, having spent 12 years as farm manager of an Ocala, Fla. breeding operation. She also has worked as secretary to the racing secretary at Gulfstream. While her victory with Tickle My Rib was officially her first as trainer, she deputized for her ailing father part of last year.

"My dad had put too much time and work into the stable to let it go down the tubes," she said.