02/07/2007 1:00AM

Invasor in fine fettle after rough trip in Donn


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Despite clipping heels and taking up sharply on the final bend of Saturday's Donn Handicap, Invasor came out of the race none the worse for wear, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year, overcame his rough trip and rallied to a gutsy two-length victory over Hesanoldsalt in the Grade 1 Donn.

"We're very fortunate he came out of the race very clean and in excellent shape," said McLaughlin. "It was scary for sure when he clipped heels like that, and he was lucky to get through like he did and win the race following the incident. Sometimes those things happen when you're going two turns, but hopefully with his next race around one turn in Dubai we shouldn't have any tightness to worry about."

McLaughlin said the training schedule for Invasor will depend on the date he will depart for his start in the Dubai World Cup on March 31.

"Once I find out the exact date we're leaving, I'll map out a work schedule for him," said McLaughlin. "He'll probably have his first work approximately two weeks from the Donn."

Nick Zito is one trainer who will be glad to see Invasor leave the country for a while. When Zito's Hesanoldsalt outgamed A. P. Arrow to finish second in the Donn, it marked the third time one of his horses has been runner-up to Invasor in an important Grade 1 race over the last nine months. And a fourth Zito-trained horse, Andromeda's Hero, was third behind Invasor in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap.

"We've been second to him now in three Grade 1's with three different horses," said Zito. "Wanderin Boy chased him home in the Pimlico Special. Sun King lost a heartbreaker to him last summer at Saratoga in the Whitney, and now Hesanoldsalt is second in the Donn. It's amazing when you think what a difference it might have meant to our stable if Invasor had not been around."

Round Pond works - surprise! - on the grass

Trainer Michael Matz may have surprised the railbirds at Palm Meadows on Wednesday morning when he worked Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond on the turf. It was the first time the daughter of Awesome Again has trained on grass.

"She was due for a work and it's always good to try to change things up a little bit, but she was sort of confused when she first got out there," said Matz. "She wasn't sure what to do. She just didn't know what it was like working on the inside like that with all those other horses around her. She's usually fairly aggressive breaking off, but this morning she must have gone the first eighth in 15 [seconds], although she finished well and galloped out good."

Round Pond was officially timed for five furlongs in 1:05.60.

"It was a good next step, getting her ready for her next start," said Matz, who has earmarked the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap over the main track here on March 11 for Round Pond's 2007 debut.

"She has some breeding for the turf, and if something came up we might try it with her," he said, "although from what I saw today, let's say her dirt career is not in jeopardy."

Round Pond wasn't the only top filly to train on the Palm Meadows turf on Wednesday. Eclipse Award winner Wait a While also breezed over the surface, going an easy half-mile in 51.40 for trainer Anthony Sciametta Jr. Wait a While might launch her 4-year-old campaign in the Grade 3 The Very One Handicap on Feb. 25.

Kaplan's little stable coming up big

Trainer Bill Kaplan's mighty little stable continues to chug its way along the Kentucky Derby trail.

On Saturday, a week after the Kaplan-trained Storm in May gained national attention by winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint in an upset, Kaplan sent out Drums of Thunder to an impressive second-place finish behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. Despite failing to change leads until deep stretch, Drums of Thunder pushed the odds-on favorite Nobiz Like Shobiz before ultimately finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner, and a similar margin in front of the well-regarded Scat Daddy.

"I thought he ran extremely well and that he proved he belongs in the Derby picture," said Kaplan, who trains Drums of Thunder for owners Herb and Ione Elkins. "Right now I'm not sure where he'll go next, although the Fountain of Youth is definitely a strong possibility."

This weekend Kaplan, who trains a modest 10-horse stable based at Calder, will be at Fair Grounds, sending out yet another Derby hopeful, Imawildandcrazyguy, in the Risen Star Stakes. Kaplan had entered Imawildandcrazyguy in a 1 1/8-mile, second-level allowance race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park but had to change plans when the race did not fill.

"I thought briefly about putting him in the Holy Bull along with Drums of Thunder when the allowance race didn't go," said Kaplan. "But I decided against it because of the distance. His running style isn't really conducive to a one-turn mile. The Risen Star should suit him a lot better, [and it] gives us an opportunity to pick up some graded earnings and also should give us a good idea where he stands in the Derby picture at the present time."

Kaplan also said Storm in May could return in either the Hutcheson Stakes here on Marcho3 or the Tampa Bay Derby two weeks later.