02/24/2006 1:00AM

Healthy Barbican works well

First Samurai breezed a mile as a prep for the Fountain of Youth.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Barbican, who missed his scheduled start in Oaklawn Park's Southwest Stakes after developing an ulcer on his epiglottis earlier this month, appears well on the road to recovery after working a half-mile in 48 seconds at Palm Meadows training center on Friday.

"He went very well," said trainer Eoin Harty. "I was very pleased with the work and he came back fine."

Barbican was included in the pool of Kentucky Derby contenders after posting back-to-back victories following his arrival in south Florida during the fall. A son of A.P. Indy, Barbican won his maiden by 1 1/2 lengths at Calder on Dec. 3 then returned with an easy 4 1/2-length first-level allowance win going a mile at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 15, earning a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Fortunately, we caught it early," said Harty of the ulcer. "This shows why it pays to scope horses on a regular basis. If you miss something like this and don't stop on a horse right away, the throat can become more and more irritated and eventually lead to paralysis."

Harty said if all continues to go well with Barbican he would probably look for a race on March 18, with Oaklawn Park's Rebel and Aqueduct's Gotham Stakes his most likely options. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.

"I'm picking those races more for the distance limitations rather than the time frame," Harty explained. "They only have mile and one-eighth races at Gulfstream, and even though we didn't lose much time we lost some, and I just didn't think I could have him tight enough to go nine furlongs right off the bat."

Harty reported that his impressive maiden winner Burmilla also suffered a minor throat ailment recently, forcing her to miss her next scheduled start this weekend.

"It was just a minor infection and she's in the process of recuperating, but it was enough to keep her from running this weekend," said Harty. "Hopefully she'll be ready to make the next one-other-than allowance race going short."

First Samurai breezes a mile

First Samurai had his final major work for next Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes here on Friday, breezing a mile in 1:37.60 with Donna Barton Brothers aboard. First Samurai, who was upset by the undefeated Keyed Entry making his 3-year-old debut in the 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson Stakes last month, went in fractions of 49.40, 1:01.60, and 1:13.60.

"He worked fine," said trainer Frank Brothers. "He lost interest in the stretch but young horses will do that."

First Samurai should be the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth in a field that is expected to include Great Point, Corinthian, Flashy Bull, Itsallabouthechase, My Golden Song, and Rehoboth.

Silver Train could meet Bandini

The Fountain of Youth will highlight the March 4 Spectacular Saturday III card, which includes five other stakes. But the best race of the day could turn out to be the Grade 2 Richter Scale, which might match up reigning Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Silver Train and trainer Todd Pletcher's Grade 1 winner Bandini.

Both horses worked six furlongs at Palm Meadows on Friday with Silver Train going in 1:14 under jockey Edgar Prado and Bandini a tick slower in 1:14.20.

Pletcher has nominated Bandini to the Richter Scale but has not yet committed to the race. Bandini won the 2005 Blue Grass but has not started since finishing far back in the Kentucky Derby.

Test for strangles negative

An unidentified 2-year-old stabled at the Calder training center suspected of having contracted strangles has tested negative for the disease, according to state veterinarian Dr. Mary Scollay.

The horse had been isolated from the rest of the population at the training center and neither Calder nor Gulfstream accepted any horses from the facility for several days, until the tests results were confirmed.