01/31/2005 12:00AM

High Fly gets Holy Bull dress rehearsal

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Gary I. Rothstein/Equi-Photo
High Fly, winner of the Aventura on Jan. 8, is a heavy favorite in Saturday's Holy Bull.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - High Fly is undefeated, untested, and will go into Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes a heavy favorite to keep his record unblemished. But despite holding such a hot hand, trainer Bill White is leaving no stone unturned preparing High Fly for the race.

White worked High Fly six furlongs at his home base at Calder on Sunday morning, instructing jockey Eddie Castro break the horse off at the five-furlong pole, work him around the clubhouse turn, and finish at the seven-eighths marker. High Fly completed the drill in 1:14.26 early in the morning, before the track was opened for training.

"He's never been two turns so I wanted to simulate a two-turn race, which is why we worked him from the five to the seven-eighths pole," White said. "And he was right on the money. It was exactly what I was looking for. He finished full of run, like he was just getting into the work. As long as everything checks out he's good to go on Saturday."

White planned to scope High Fly after the work and draw blood to make sure the colt was going into the biggest race of his career in peak condition.

"I like to cover all the bases and know ahead of time everything is perfect," said White, who trains High Fly for the Live Oak Plantation.

The Holy Bull is shaping up with a field of nine to 11 3-year-olds. Along with High Fly, the field could include Dearest Mon, G P's Black Knight, Hostile Witness, Magna Graduate, Drum Major, Ginger's Fella, Hal's Image, Closing Argument, and Kansas City Boy. Trainer Stanley Hough said he is also considering Criminal Mind for the race.

Dearest Mon works fast

Dearest Mon, who will face High Fly in the Holy Bull, turned in the fastest five-furlong drill of the morning at Palm Meadows on Monday, speeding five furlongs in 59 seconds on a fast track. Dearest Mon appeared to complete the work well within himself, but trainer Rick Violette was a bit concerned that the work was too quick for a colt who will be making his two-turn debut in five days in the Holy Bull.

"It was good, but maybe a little quicker than I wanted," Violette said. "He does anything you want. I wanted him to do something where he gets more than a little blow. Going two turns, I wanted to get him on his belly a little bit. He's a big, heavy horse. He needs a lot."

Violette said that if he doesn't train Dearest Mon hard enough, "he's the kind of horse you could lead over there and he'd be a little heavy."

Dearest Mon, a son of Maria's Mon, was fourth in his debut at Aqueduct, then won successive races at Aqueduct and Gulfstream. All his previous races have been at seven furlongs, a quarter-mile shorter than the Holy Bull.

Harlington eyes Risen Star

The unbeaten Harlington, who most recently won a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 15, will bypass the Holy Bull to await the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 12, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday at Palm Meadows.

"The Holy Bull is just back a little soon," Pletcher said. "The Risen Star is a possibility."

Still, Pletcher will have action among his 3-year-olds on Saturday's card. Proud Accolade, the Champagne Stakes winner, will return to a one-turn race in the Hutcheson, and the swift filly Maddalena will go for her third victory without a defeat in the Old Hat.

Proud Accolade, unbeaten in three starts around one turn, fared poorly in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Hollywood Futurity in his only tries around two turns.

"He's doing very well," Pletcher said. "We're kind of at the regrouping stage, and obviously we don't want to regroup at a mile and an eighth."

Maddalena was a swift allowance winner here on Jan. 16 in her first start since a debut win April 30 at Churchill Downs. Pletcher said Maddalena was sidelined with "some baby issues," which included sore shins.

Donn field short but sweet

The Holy Bull is one of five graded stakes on Saturday's undercard. The main event is the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap, which figures to come up a short but star-studded field, led by 121-pound highweight Roses in May and Saint Liam (119).

Trainer Nick Zito confirmed Monday that he plans to run both Pies Prospect and Seek Gold in the Donn, and trainer Mark Hennig has decided to keep Eddington home for the race rather than wait a week and shipping him to California for the Strub.

Contante, third behind Badge of Silver and Dynever in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope earlier in the meet, worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Palm Meadows on Monday, after which trainer Stanley Hough said he is pointing the horse for the Donn but is still not 100 percent committed to it.

"He worked good this morning and did it the right way, but we'll see how things go the rest of the week," said Hough. "Our other option would be to wait for the Gulfstream Park Handicap, which will probably come up a little easier spot."

Ramon Dominguez will ride Contante in the Donn if he runs.

Some top trainers oppose race cards

A number of Palm Meadows-based trainers - including Bobby Frankel, Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans, and Kiaran McLaughlin - met with Magna president and chief executive officer Jim McAlpine and Gulfstream president and general manager Scott Savin last weekend to voice concerns over purses and the types of races being carded, especially on the turf course, in the opening month of the meet.

"They've been letting too many of the cheaper races go and not enough of the better ones," said Frankel. "And we would like them to split some of the maiden and one-other-than allowance races on the turf instead of using claiming races in their place. They've got enough real quality horses here to have a real good meet, but up to this point they aren't taking advantage of the situation."

Savin said Gulfstream management understands the horsemen's concerns but that they also must realize that ontrack handle is down this winter and that the track is on a budget regarding purses.

"I don't think most of these trainers realize we have already gone into our own pocket to subsidize purses," Savin said. "But we are trying to do the best we can to satisfy the horsemen - such as by splitting a maiden special weight race on the turf three ways for Wednesday's card."

Second of June: A million woes

Second of June had an unlucky trip when sixth behind 70-1 Musique Toujours in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Classic, but trainer Bill Cesare took the outcome in stride.

"You can't win them all, but fortunately he's walking good and we'll have another day," said Cesare. "He got screwed going into the first turn and sucked back to the rear of the pack, then got boxed in and was eating dirt for a long way. He coughed up dirt for about 20 minutes after he got back to the barn. But you've got to give credit to the winner. He ran the whole way and never backed out."

Cesare said he was not sure what would be next for Second of June.

"I don't know when or where he'll run next but it won't be here," said Cesare, adding that the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap March 12 at Fair Grounds is a possibility.

* Madcap Escapade worked six furlongs from the gate in 1:11.40 at Gulfstream on Monday, getting her final half-mile in under 47 seconds. Madcap Escapade could make her much-anticipated 2005 debut in the seven-furlong Shirley Jones Handicap on Feb. 19.

* Lion Tamer, the Pletcher-trained Cigar Mile winner, worked an easy half-mile in 51 seconds on Monday at Palm Meadows. It was only his second work since returning from a brief freshening.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman