02/28/2007 12:00AM

Is it finally Hesanoldsalt's turn?

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Considering he has had three different horses finish second to Invasor in Grade 1 races, trainer Nick Zito has to be happy that the defending Horse of the Year is not running in Saturday's $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Still, with the presence of Corinthian, Zito knows the Grade 2 race won't be easy for Hesanoldsalt, who is coming off a runner-up finish in the Donn Handicap.

"They're never easy in Florida,'' Zito said. "You hate to say this is spring training, but it's probably the toughest spring training of any place any time of year. If you look at the stars that run at Gulfstream, it's mind boggling.''

While star-in-the-making Corinthian will be a deserving favorite in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Hesanoldsalt will have more than a puncher's chance in the 1 3/16-mile race. Inconsistent early in his 3-year-old year, Hesanoldsalt finished his campaign with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap.

One month later, Hesanoldsalt finished first in a money allowance race, but was disqualified and placed second in a controversial call. Hesanoldsalt came back in the 1 1/8-mile Donn, and despite a wide trip was able to finish second, two lengths behind Invasor.

"I thought his performance was gallant, tremendous,'' said Zito, who also finished second to Invasor with Wanderin Boy in the Pimlico Special and with Sun King in the Whitney.

Zito said Hesanoldsalt has had a good month since the Donn and that the added distance of the race "won't hurt him.''

Zito said Wednesday that he may enter Noble Causeway in the Gulfstream Cap. Noble Causeway comes off a second-place finish to Half Ours in a third-level allowance race.

Oonagh Maccool hurt, retired

Oonagh Maccool, the multiple Grade 2-winning mare, sustained a saucer fracture in her left foreleg while running fifth in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap and has been retired, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. A saucer fracture is similar to a stress fracture.

Pletcher said Oonagh Maccool has been sent to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, but it was unclear to whom she would be bred.

Oonagh Maccool, an Irish-bred daughter of Giant's Causeway, won 5 of 9 starts and banked $379,528. She began her career in Europe before coming to this country in the fall of 2005. Included among her victories were the Grade 2 Rampart here and the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. She was beaten a head in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill.

Jazil will wait for another spot

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin ruled out Saturday's Gulfstream Park Handicap and a rematch with Corinthian for Belmont Stakes winner Jazil.

"It's just bad timing," said McLaughlin. "He's doing great and I thought his first two starts this year were excellent, even though he finished second in both races. He raced wide over a speed-biased track in New York then hooked a monster in Corinthian in his last start."

McLaughlin said the Ben Ali at Keeneland on April 26 or an allowance race on the turf could be next for Jazil.

"It's a long year and I think the mile and one-quarter races later in the season are more up his alley," he said.

McLaughlin also said Horse of the Year Invasor will depart for Dubai on March 20 for his much-anticipated meeting with Discreet Cat in the Dubai World Cup on March 31. Invasor prepped for that encounter with a game victory here in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 3.

"He continues to do great," said McLaughlin. "He'll have three more works before he leaves for Dubai."

C P West one to watch later

Zito will send out his Kentucky Derby hopeful Forefathers as the favorite in Saturday's Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes. The Hall of Fame trainer also has another extremely talented 3-year-old in his barn, C P West, who may not make the Derby but could well be heard from in the division later in the year.

C P West, a son of Came Home, has not started since finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In his two previous starts, C P West was an impressive maiden winner at Saratoga and runner-up to King of the Roxy in the Belmont Futurity.

"We took a shot in the Breeders' Cup and paid for it," said Zito. "He came out of the race with ankles, nothing serious, but we had to stop on him and clean them up. He's a big, big horse size-wise, and I needed to give him plenty of time. He's back on the work schedule now, but sometimes you're dealt certain cards and those are the cards you're forced to play."

C P West has worked three times since Feb. 1, all at three furlongs, the latest a bullet in 36.00 seconds last Saturday.

"My wish list is to get a race for him here in March," said Zito. "He's extremely talented, and if we don't make the Derby maybe we'll make the Derby Trial."

As for Forefathers, Zito is looking for another big performance in the Hutcheson following his second-place finish behind Adore the Gold in the Swale earlier in the meet.

"Naturally I was disappointed he didn't win but very happy with the way he ran," said Zito.

Chatain to point to Met Mile

Trainer Angel Penna has targeted the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap for Hal's Hope winner Chatain. How Penna gets him to that race has not yet been decided. The only thing Penna does know is that Chatain will not run again at this meet.

Chatain won the Hal's Hope here on opening weekend before finishing fourth behind Invasor in the Donn Handicap. Penna is considering using either the Ben Ali at Keeneland or the Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on April 28 as a prep.

"It's a long year and I gave him two back-to-back, very tough races,'' Penna said. "Although he came out great you don't want to push the envelope too much. It's too early in the year to take those shots right now.''

Meanwhile, Penna said that he would not run Remarkable News in Sunday's $125,000 Appleton Handicap. Remarkable News won the Fourstardave Handicap and finished second in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last fall.

"I was going to run him Sunday, but unfortunately I was a little too easy with him early and he's only 85 percent,'' Penna said. "I don't want to take a shot that he overdoes it. I wouldn't mind if he loses just to get him a race. I'm not worried about losing, I'm worried about getting hurt by him doing an extra effort that he's not ready for.''

Penna said that most likely he will have to train Remarkable News up to the $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on April 13.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch