02/03/2005 12:00AM

Gotta Rush second coming for Palmer


OLDSMAR, FLA. - Can one catch lightning in a bottle twice in one lifetime?

Trainer Lloyd "Pete" Palmer had in Silver Stockings a filly he felt had championship potential. She won the 2000 Gasparilla and Suncoast stakes, then suffered an injury that led to her retirement after a career in which she won 6 of 12 races and $162,000.

Palmer and his partners in Inwood Farm bred Silver Stockings to Wild Rush, and the result of that pairing is a filly who will make her 2005 debut on Saturday. She is Gotta Rush, a winner of 2 of her first 4 starts and third in the Selima Stakes in her final start as a 2-year-old last year. On Saturday, Palmer goes after the $60,000 Gasparilla again, with Gotta Rush, and she is one of the intriguing entrants in the seven-furlongs stakes.

"She's not as big as her mother but has a bit more common sense and has made the transition from youngster to a maturing young adult very nicely," Palmer said. "We've laid out a schedule similar to the one Silver Stockings followed, which would have her in the Gasparilla, then the Suncoast at a mile and a sixteenth [on Feb. 26], then the Florida Oaks on March 19. There is always that other Oaks [the Kentucky Oaks on May 6] in the back of our minds, but right now it's one race at a time."

Gotta Rush won at first asking at Delaware Park, came back to be third in her next start, then used a strong late rally for her second win, again against allowance rivals at Delaware.

Tested in stakes company and around two turns for the first time in the $100,000 Selima last Nov. 20 at Pimlico, she rallied through the late stages and was gaining ground when third. She was beaten just over two lengths, in a paceless race in which the opening half-mile was run in a dawdling 49.69 seconds.

Gotta Rush has been training brilliantly for her 3-year-old debut with works that include a sparkling half-mile of 47.60 on Jan. 2 and a three-furlong blowout Tuesday in 35.60 seconds. She galloped out in 49 and change, according to her exercise rider, Lisa Johnson.

While Gotta Rush is one of the local favorites, there are several others in Saturday's field that could be tough, including Cool Spell, a Grand Slam filly who makes her first start since finishing third behind Classic Elegance in the Grade 2 Debutante at Churchill; Joyous Song, third in the Sandpiper here despite trying to close ground over a surface that was speed-favoring; and Southern Serenity, who ran third in the Three Ring Stakes at Calder two races back in her 2004 finale.