01/30/2009 1:00AM

Hutcheson a true Derby prep

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Break Water Edison won the one-mile Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct in his last start at 2.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - For much of the past decade or so, Gulfstream Park's Hutcheson Stakes has showcased some very good 3-year-olds, with two of the last three winners even going on to run in the Kentucky Derby. But during that time period, rarely has the seven-furlong Hutcheson produced a top Derby contender or been considered a major Derby prep.

That could change, however, thanks to a revised stakes schedule that makes the $150,000 Hutcheson more appealing to trainers with Derby hopefuls. Horses such as Break Water Edison, Capt. Candyman Can, and Hello Broadway will open their 3-year-old campaigns on Friday in the Grade 2 Hutcheson rather than stretch out to 1 1/8 miles the following afternoon in the Grade 3 Holy Bull.

Break Water Edison moved near the top of the division following his 1 3/4-length decision over Hello Broadway in the one-mile Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct in his last start at 2. He earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort.

Trainer John Kimmel has prepared Break Water Edison for his return at both Payson Park and Gulfstream, where he blew out three furlongs from the gate in 36.20 seconds on Wednesday.

"He's kind of a plain wrapper, but I think he's a pretty good horse and he's shown from the form he left off with last year and the numbers he ran that he's right at the top of the division," said Kimmel.

Break Water Edison, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, also finished second in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and fourth in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Kimmel is hoping the Hutcheson will serve as a good prep for future endeavors here this winter in the one-mile Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Feb. 28 and 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28.

"Back in time, all those guys had their top Derby hopefuls make their first start at seven furlongs," Kimmel said. "And a progression from seven furlongs to a mile to a mile and one-eighth makes more sense than to start him out longer and then either cut back for the Fountain of Youth or send him out of town.

"I'm hoping a race like this will accomplish a couple of things: To sharpen him up while not being too overtaxing and to get a good race under his belt so I can do what I want with him later on."

Kimmel said he breezed Break Water Edison out of the gate 48 hours before the race because he drew post 1 in the Hutcheson.

"I just flopped the door open on him," Kimmel said. "I didn't even have them ring the bell this morning, and if he was drawn outside Friday I wouldn't have done it. But he hasn't run in three months and I didn't want him to get stuck back in the pack down there on the rail as a result of a slow break. He got in trouble a couple of times because of that last year."

Trainer Ian Wilkes said Capt. Candyman Can, whose last three starts have been at a mile or longer, needs a seven-furlong race to open his season as opposed to starting back in the nine-furlong Holy Bull.

"He did too much wrong the last time," said Wilkes, referring to Capt. Candyman Can's third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. "He was too aggressive. He got on the front end, where I thought he'd relax, and he never did. Going seven furlongs, there's enough speed to get him back. We've got to find out if he's good enough. I think he is and this race should tell us what direction to go."

Hello Broadway also shortens up to seven furlongs after concluding his 2-year-old campaign finishing fifth going a mile in the Grade 1 Champagne and a troubled second behind Break Water Edison in the one-mile Nashua.

"Seven-eighths should be a good place to start him off," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "It shouldn't exhaust him and should have him sharp to go a mile in the Fountain of Youth."

Completing the field are Bee Cee Cee, a distant third behind Notonthesamepage in the Spectacular Bid; Salo Jak, a winner of three in a row; Rocketing Returns, who comes off back-to-back wins; and recent maiden winner Z Day.