01/08/2005 1:00AM

High Fly remains unbeaten

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High Fly, under Eddie Castro, establishes himself as an early Kentucky Derby candidate with a dominating win in the one-mile Aventura Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - High Fly stamped himself the first Kentucky Derby candidate of the meeting after cruising to a convincing nine-length victory over 11 rivals in Saturday's $125,000 at Gulfstream Park.

High Fly ($8.20) entered the Aventura undefeated and untested in two previous starts and remained that way after turning in a devastating performance in the first race ever run out of Gulfstream's new one-mile chute.

A homebred son of Atticus owned by the Live Oak Plantation, High Fly got perfect early position under regular rider Eddie Castro, settling two lengths off the pace of Magoo's Magic. High Fly moved three wide to challenge for command approaching the stretch, then drew off impressively once straightened away for the drive. He ran the mile in 1:35.88.

Drum Major rallied four wide into the stretch and finished second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Magna Graduate, who attempted to rally in company with the winner on the turn. Deputy Indy, the 3-2 favorite, saved ground throughout and had no excuse, finishing a well-beaten 10th.

A claim of foul by jockey Jose Santos, who rode Drum Major, against the winner for alleged interference leaving the gate was disallowed.

"We expected him to run well but I don't think anybody could have expected this type of performance," said trainer Bill White. "This was a little muscle-flexing today. This race was a test to see if his big numbers were an indication of his true ability since he had never looked a really good horse in the eye. He still hasn't, but now I think he's established himself on the Derby Watch list.

"Obviously the Kentucky Derby becomes the main goal and we'll go back and map out a two- or three-race plan to get him there."

Saratoga County wins Mr. Prospector

Saratoga County briefly traveled the Kentucky Derby trail last spring after his victory in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He then went eight starts without registering another victory but left little doubt he's back in peak form by rallying from the rear of the pack to a 2 1/2-length decision over Limehouse in the $100,000 .

Saratoga County ($9.80), a 4-year-old son of Valid Expectations trained by George Weaver, used a devastating middle move to circle the leaders into the stretch of the six-furlong race before pulling away to his second easy win in succession. He also rallied to a 5 1/4-length allowance victory in his 3-year-old finale on Nov. 27.

Limehouse appeared to labor along the rail while racing in mid-pack but finished strong once he angled out at the head of the stretch to easily be second best. All Hail Stormy finished another five lengths farther back

in third. Shake You Down, the 7-2 favorite in a field of 10 sprint specialists, forced the pace before finishing a tiring seventh.

Saratoga County was timed in 1:08.99.

"I think this performance should put an end to any thoughts people might have had that his Gotham win was a fluke," said Weaver, who trains Saratoga County for Evelyn Pollard. "I changed his training tactics a bit and tried putting some sharp, solid works into him before his win in Kentucky. He worked 57 and change at Palm Meadows before this race. I never had a horse work that fast before and I was afraid it might have zapped him. But obviously it had no effect."