01/24/2007 12:00AM

Lots of changes since Mystic Ruler's last


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Mystic Ruler will have a new trainer and will be racing at a new track, but as long as he's got grass under his feet the lightly raced colt could be the horse to beat in Friday's $48,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Mystic Ruler has won two of his three starts, and since his last start has been turned over from trainer Stanley Hough to Rick Violette Jr., who gelded the 4-year-old. A son of Fusaichi Pegasus, Mystic Ruler won his career debut at 2 over the Saratoga turf course in August 2005. He did not return until the following May, finishing fourth under entry-level allowance conditions, but made amends for his only setback seven weeks later when he drew off to a 6 1/2-length allowance victory at Belmont, for which he earned a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He had a few little physical issues he needed to grow out of, which is why he got some time off," said Violette. "He's also a FuPeg and has a few quirks. He's been kind of roughish, but gelding him seemed to help. I was a little afraid of going over the top waiting for this spot, but he's ready to roll without turning the screws too tight."

Eclipse Award-winning jockey Edgar Prado, Mystic Ruler's regular rider for Hough, retains the assignment with Violette.

If Mystic Ruler needs a race again off the bench, there are no shortage of alternative choices, including recent maiden winner Maroon, the once highly regarded Yankee Master, and the Calder-based Fancy Silver.

Maroon comes off his best race yet, a come-from-behind half-length win going a mile in a first-level allowance on the Churchill Downs turf. The performance capped off a series of four consecutive sharp efforts for Maroon, a 4-year-old son of Menifee who has been training steadily at Palm Meadows for trainer Rusty Arnold.

Yankee Master was an easy winner of his first two career starts, including Keeneland's Bourbon Stakes, but has been winless in six subsequent tries. He returns to the allowance ranks Friday after being outrun against stakes competition in his two final tries at 3 last year.

Fancy Silver also drops back against allowance company after closing out 2006 by finishing second behind the graded stakes winner Can't Beat It in the Pete Axthelm Stakes and third in the Mel's Hope. Both races were decided over his home course at Calder.