03/01/2003 1:00AM

Gygistar's prep plans uncertain

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Mark Hennig plans to run his top sprinter, Gygistar, in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad Al Sheba on March 29, but he's not sure if the 4-year-old gelding needs another prep before then.

If the answer is yes, then Gygistar will start in Saturday's $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap at Gulfstream Park. If the answer is no, then Gygistar will have another work or two at Gulfstream before boarding a plane on March 15 for the trip to Dubai.

As of Saturday, Hennig said Gygistar was "50-50'' to run in the Richter Scale, formerly known as the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap.

"We're pointing toward that race [in Dubai]. It's just a matter of deciding if we want to take a shot at taking anything out of him for the race over there,'' Hennig said Saturday, shortly after watching Gygistar drill five furlongs in 59.20 seconds, the second-fastest of 29 moves at the distance.

Hennig obviously wasn't satisfied with Gygistar's fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap on Feb. 9, his first start since winning the King's Bishop last August. Gygistar was hampered by a severe foot injury that knocked him out of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Hennig does not believe the foot was a factor in Gygistar's Deputy Minister performance, noting that the gelding failed to switch off his left lead in the race.

"If his foot was bothering him, he would have wanted to have gotten off that lead,'' Hennig said.

In hindsight, Hennig said, Gygistar may not have been as tight as he needed to be for the Deputy Minister, especially when you consider the winner, Native Heir, ran fractions of 21.41 seconds and 43.54 en route to a track-record equaling performance of 1:15.17.

"I certainly wasn't preparing him like that was the last race of his life,'' Hennig said. "I thought we'd get a race in him and take him to Dubai. I thought I had done enough with him and that he could win anyway. He was caught up in chasing that 43-and-change. I don't think he was racing fit to do that.''

Hennig said Gygistar trained well before the Deputy Minister and has continued to train well since. But he is worried about Gygistar running a big race in the Richter Scale and then regressing for the Golden Shaheen.

"There's no confidence problem to running him, it's just a matter where we want to fire the bullet,'' he said. "The fact one is $200,000 and the other is $2 million is a factor.''

Binthebest and Fire and Glory, the second- and third-place finishers from the Deputy Minister are expected back in the Richter Scale. Trainer Mark Shuman said he would definitely run Highway Prospector and either Native Heir or Boston Brat.

Devil at the Wire retired

Devil at the Wire, who won Friday's $74,200 Gaily Gaily Stakes, suffered a fractured sesamoid bone in her right foreleg in the race and has been retired, trainer Ken McPeek said.

"It was a freak deal,'' McPeek said. "Mark [Guidry] said she felt great until she switched leads galloping out on the turn.''

Devil at the Wire, purchased for $18,000, won 3 of 8 starts and earned $126,011 for an ownership group led by Mike Goetz and Brian Griggs. Devil at the Wire finished second in the Tropical Park Oaks and third in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes.

Meanwhile, McPeek confirmed that Hard Buck, a Grade 1 winner in Brazil that he recently acquired, will run in the UAE Derby on March 29 at Nad Al Sheba. Hard Buck is considered a 3-year-old for Southern Hemisphere racing, but will be considered 4 when he runs in North America, similar to Lido Palace when he finished third in the UAE Derby in 2001 before shipping here.

Zito becoming a ladies man

This is the time of year when trainer Nick Zito is usually grooming his 3-year-old colts for the Triple Crown. This year, Zito is light on colts, but may be a player in the 3-year-old filly division with the likes of Holiday Lady, Bird Town, and Glorious Miss.

Holiday Lady won an entry-level allowance race on Feb. 3 and is being pointed to the Bonnie Miss Stakes here on March 14. Bird Town romped to a 12 1/2-length victory in the Feb. 23 Charon Stakes. Zito said he would probably skip the Forward Gal with Bird Town and point her to a race at Keeneland.

"I thought she ran very, very hard,'' Zito said. "To me, you'll probably see her again at Keeneland or some type of conditioned race maybe before we leave here.''

With Bird Town skipping the Forward Gal, Zito may still be represented in the race with Glorious Miss, who is 2 for 7 lifetime and comes off a third-place finish in the Old Hat Stakes earlier this meet.

Zito is no stranger to success with fillies. In 1996, he trained Storm Song and All That Jazz to a one-two finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Storm Song was voted champion 2-year-old filly.

Earlier in his career, Zito trained graded-stakes-winning fillies Chelsey Flower, Lady D'Accord, Ride Sally, and Jade Flush.

Spin Control may try Bonnie Miss

Spin Control, who won a nine-furlong maiden race by 13 1/2 lengths here Feb. 23, may make her next start in the Bonnie Miss Stakes on March 14, trainer Graham Motion said. Motion added that the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on March 16 is also a possibility.

Spin Control, a 3-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy, had displayed talent in her first two starts, finishing second to the subsequent stakes winner Boxer Girl in her debut at Laurel last December and third behind Buy Out Time in her first start going long here on Jan. 19.

"I'm not set on running her in either one of those stakes, but I'm going to nominate her to both and see how they come up," Motion said. "This is the time of year to find out what you've got."