02/08/2003 12:00AM

Hennig has division covered


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - On the same day that trainer Mark Hennig was preparing to say goodbye to Mystic Lady, he was ready to welcome back Gold Mover, Raging Fever, and Summer Colony, all of whom figure to give Hennig a strong hand in stakes races for older fillies and mares throughout the year.

Mystic Lady finished fifth while making her final start in Saturday's Sabin Handicap. She will be sent immediately to the breeding shed, though Hennig said that owner Lee Lewis had yet to select a mate for Mystic Lady.

Gold Mover, a Grade 1 winner who has earned more than $1 million, will be the first of Hennig's comebackers to race this year. After a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 on Saturday morning with exercise rider Juan Tapia, she is set for Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap, with Jerry Bailey riding.

"Seven furlongs is probably her best distance," Hennig said, referring to the Shirley Jones distance. "And she's undefeated sprinting at Gulfstream. The only time she lost here was when Latour beat her in the Davona Dale going a mile and a sixteenth two years ago."

Gold Mover, now 5, has not raced since a victory in the Safely Kept Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. She has won 11 times in 25 starts, including last year's Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. She won three times in four starts last year at seven furlongs.

Both Raging Fever and Summer Colony, like Gold Mover homebreds owned by Ed Evans, are farther away from a race. Summer Colony, the only horse to ever finish in front of Horse of the Year Azeri, had her progress delayed this winter by an eye infection.

"She had a fungal infection in her left eye while she was at Payson Park," Hennig said. "We sent her up to the University of Florida to treat her. There's still a little cloudiness in the eye, but it seems as though she can still see out of it. We weren't sure if she was going to lose some vision, but we haven't seen any change in her training.

"She wasn't training when it happened. She was at Payson for some R and R after the Breeders' Cup. There was a little inflammation around the eye. Horses can be susceptible to fungal infections down here. They can be nasty. The University of Florida has experience dealing with it."

Hennig said that With Ability, another top mare he trained in recent years, had a fungal infection that left her with "impaired vision for the last year and a half of her career."

Hennig said he is in no hurry to get Summer Colony back to the races. His goal is the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

"We're saving her California trip for the end of the year," Hennig said. Last year, Summer Colony won the La Canada Stakes in February, defeating Azeri. "We want her to peak at the end of the year. There's no rush. It's a long year."

Super Fuse out of Hutcheson

Trainer Richard Ciardullo has withdrawn Super Fuse from consideration for Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes after his multiple-stakes-winning 3-year-old worked five furlongs in 1:05 here on Saturday morning.

"He's not a great work horse, but I wanted him to go in 1:03 and he went in 1:05," Ciardullo said. "He just doesn't appear comfortable with this racetrack. Physically he's fine and he's been galloping well over [the track], but there was a noticeable difference this morning. Obviously, I can't run him in the Hutcheson off that kind of work."

Ciardullo said his game plan now is to take Super Fuse back to Calder and work him again next week and if all goes well point him to Aqueduct's Best Turn Stakes on Feb. 22.

Super Fuse has won 5 of 7 starts, including Tampa Bay's Pasco Stakes in his last start. He finished a disappointing fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the Spectacular Bid Stakes here on opening day of the 2003 meeting.

New Orleans better timing for Best of the Rest

Eddie Plesa Jr. reports that he's leaning heavily towards skipping the Grade 1 Donn Handicap here on Feb. 22 with Best of the Rest to await the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds the following weekend. Best of the Rest won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic in his last start.

"The time frame is the main reason I'm leaning towards the race at the Fair Grounds," Plesa said. "Even though he bounced back out of the Sunshine Classic in good shape it was a tough race for him, and the New Orleans Handicap gives him a little more time to recuperate. In addition, from what I've seen, the Donn appears to be coming up a pretty tough race."

Among those expected for the Donn are Lido Palace, Harlan's Holiday, Windsor Castle, and Hero's Tribute.

Strategic Partner heads feature

Strategic Partner, one of the top members of the 3-year-old turf division on the East Coast as a 3-year-old in 2001, launches his 2003 campaign under third-level allowance conditions in Monday's $40,000 feature at about one mile on the grass.

Strategic Partner won the Grade 3 Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs during the spring of 2001 and was stakes placed in several other graded races that season. He started just once last year, finishing fifth over a yielding course in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap. Bailey will be aboard Strategic Partner for Hennig.

Good Boy Sam, who missed by a neck under similar conditions earlier in the meet, and OnlycookHalf Ofit, a second-level allowance winner on Jan. 4, appear to be the ones to beat in a field of 10 turf specialists.

* Jorge Chavez has picked up the mount on Midway Cat for next Saturday's Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Cornelio Velasquez had been riding both Midway Cat and Trust N Luck, but with both going in the Fountain of Youth, Velasquez was forced to choose. Velasquez went with Trust N Luck following his five-furlong work between races on Wednesday.

* Chavez also will ride Lido Palace in the Donn. Windsor Castle, expected to challenge Lido Palace in that race, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.60 on Saturday morning.

* Nonsuch Bay, who may challenge Gold Mover in the Shirley Jones, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Saturday morning at Gulfstream. Harmony Lodge, another possible Shirley Jones runner, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 at the Palm Meadows training center.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch