01/07/2008 12:00AM

Lukas has two nice prospects

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - D. Wayne Lukas has won four Kentucky Derbies, but aside from Proud Citizen's second-place finish in 2002, he has been relatively quiet at the big dance since sending out Charismatic and Cat Thief to finish first and third in 1999.

There are still many miles to travel along the Derby road before getting to Churchill Downs again this spring, although Lukas already has himself a couple of exciting 3-year-old prospects in Legacy Thief and Silver Edition. Both made favorable impressions here at Gulfstream Park last Saturday. Legacy Thief won a first-level allowance going six furlongs, while Silver Edition finished a game second after contesting all the pace in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes.

Saturday's 4 1/4-length triumph was the second one-sided win in a row for Legacy Thief, a son of Cat Thief who closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a similarly easy 5 3/4-length victory going a mile at Aqueduct.

"I think he's really turned the corner now," said Lucas, who trains Legacy Thief for owner-breeder Mary Lou Whitney. "I was really impressed the way he threw up some fast fractions and kept running the way he did Saturday. He's very rateable, and I think he'll get at least a mile and one-eighth. Now we'll have to jump into the deep end of the pool."

Legacy Thief earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his 3-year-old debut, four points higher than Smooth Air received for winning the Hutcheson later on the card.

"I'll look at the Swale, but that's at 6 1/2 furlongs and I'd really like to go two turns with him next time if I can," said Lukas.

Silver Edition was beaten a length by Smooth Air in the seven-furlong Hutcheson, digging in determinedly once passed by the winner at midstretch.

"To get hooked all the way and finish like he did was very encouraging," Lukas said of Silver Edition. "I don't think he saw that other horse coming on the outside, and once he did he fought back, then galloped out beyond the field after the wire."

Like with Legacy Thief, Lukas is considering several options for Silver Edition.

Lukas added another 3-year-old winner on Monday when Tazarine held gamely to outlast a solid field of maiden special weight foes going a mile.

Chatain will stick to sprinting

A year ago, Chatain won the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap, then returned in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, where he finished a troubled fourth behind reigning Horse of the Year Invasor. Chatain successfully defended his Hal's Hope title on Sunday, but trainer Angel Penna Jr. said there will be no Donn in his future this winter.

"There will be no more two-turn races for him," Penna said. "Last winter was the only time during his career I have been able to keep him healthy enough to run back-to-back races, and then I have to hook the Horse of the Year in the Donn at a distance which is really not Chatain's best."

Penna has nothing definite picked out for Chatain's next start, although he did mention the Grade 2 Richter Scale Handicap at seven furlongs here on March 8 or the Godolphin Mile in Dubai three weeks later as possible options.

Melissa Jo preps for Old Hat

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens, whose Lady Marlboro dead-heated for the win with Golden Velvet in Sunday's Grade 3 Sabin Handicap, will look to build on that success when he sends out Melissa Jo in Saturday's Grade 2 Old Hat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Melissa Jo, a daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus, concluded her 2-year-old campaign by finishing a tiring third going 1 1/8 miles in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Demoiselle.

"She was a little rank and closer to the pace than I would have liked in her last start," said Jerkens. "But she worked beautifully for this race last weekend."

Melissa Jo worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Saturday at Palm Meadows.

Jerkens also sent out his older handicap star Sir Greeley to breeze an easy three furlongs in 36.40 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday. It was his first work since he finished far back in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

"I had contemplated scratching him before the Cigar because his last work before the race was lackluster for him, but then I thought it might be a small field and he could pick up a check in a Grade 1 race," said Jerkens. "He's about five or six weeks away from a race right now, and at the moment the plan is just to bring him along slow and set him up for a good campaign in the spring."

A small but competitive field is setting up for the Old Hat. Besides Melissa Jo, it is expected to include Indy's Alexandra, who is perfect in three starts for trainer Marty Wolfson.

"She's doing well, and I feel comfortable with the 6 1/2- furlong distance, but it's going to be a step up in class and a real test for her," said Wolfson. "Especially if Lovely Isle runs. I was really hoping [Bobby] Frankel would skip this race and wait for the Sunshine Millions with her."

The Frankel-trained Lovely Isle has won her only two previous starts by a combined 20 lengths.

Trainer John Kimmel is also considering the Old Hat for Elusive Lady, who concluded her 2-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 3 Tempted and finishing second in the Demoiseille. Like Lovely Isle, Elusive Lady is also eligible for the Sunshine Millions Oaks on Jan. 26.

"I'd kind of like to wait for the Sunshine Millions, which is for more money, but she's doing so good right now," said Kimmel, after Elusive Lady worked a half-mile in 49.40 Monday at Gulfstream. "We're going to enter and take a look. She's ready to run, but six furlongs really isn't her distance."

Setback for Timber Reserve

Kimmel also said Timber Reserve appeared to aggravate a slow-healing hoof injury when he finished 10th in the Hal's Hope.

"He was favoring it when he came back," said Kimmel, referring to the hoof Timber Reserve injured following his victory in the $1omillion Pennsylvania Derby.

Kimmel is still hopeful that Timber Reserve can bounce back in time to make the Donn on Feb.o2.