04/17/2002 11:00PM

Hennig to saddle uncoupled top two


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.- With less than a week remaining in the meet, most of the New York- and Kentucky-based outfits have departed south Florida. But trainer Mark Hennig remains and will send out the two top contenders, Final Table and Gygistar, in Saturday's $75,000 Hallandale Beach Handicap.

Final Table will share highweight of 120 pounds along with Juggernaut in the six-furlong Hallandale Beach. Gygistar gets in a pound lighter at 119. Danielles Magic, Barnacle Steve, Capture the Silver, and All Line round out the lineup.

Final Table returns to town after finishing a tiring eighth in Aqueduct's Best Turn Stakes. In his start before that, Final Table easily defeated second-level allowance foes by six widening lengths here on Jan. 17.

"I don't know what to say about his race in New York other than the track was a little dry and cuppy and he prefers a harder surface, which is perhaps the main reason I brought him back down," said Hennig. "I also wanted to give him plenty of time off after his last start and he's had almost two months since his last start."

Gygistar returned from a 10-month layoff and scored an impressive three-length allowance victory here on March 23, winning off despite breaking poorly from his inside post. The win was the second in three career starts for Gygistar, whose only defeat was a second-place finish in Churchill Downs Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes to close out his abbreviated juvenile campaign.

"I've always been really impressed with this horse," said Hennig. "He had surgery for a chipped knee but came back strong despite the bad start. I've had him back to the gate for a lot of schooling since his last race and I don't see it being a problem on Saturday."

Final Table and Gygistar will run as separate betting interests in the Hallandale Beach Handicap, and they complement each other perfectly. Final Table is expected to go right to the front while Hennig doesn't think Gygistar will be too far behind if he breaks with the field.

Trainer Larry Pilotti will saddle both All Line and Juggernaut as an uncoupled entry, and is hoping both improve off their 3-year-old debuts when finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, under allowance conditions here April 4. Juggernaut is the classier of the pair, having won two stakes at Calder at 2.

"Juggernaut really doesn't like this kind of hard, stinging racetrack - but he needed his first race back, came out of it well, and I expect him to improve with that one under his belt," Pilotti said.

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