02/02/2006 12:00AM

Magna Graduate, Suave hook up again

Keith Smiley
Magna Graduate, Suave hook up again in the Grade 2 Donn at Gulfstream, trainer Paul McGee sends out Suave, who hasn't raced since finishing second in last November's Clark.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Magna Graduate and Suave completed their 2005 seasons finishing first and second, a head apart, in the Grade 2 at Gulfstream Park.

The $500,000 Donn highlights Gulfstream's Super Saturday II, which features five other stakes including the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 2 Hutcheson for 3-year-olds. The Grade 2 Davona Dale and Grade 3 Old Hat for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 3 Suwannee River for fillies and mares on turf complete the stakes lineup.

Along with Magna Graduate - the 119-pound highweight - and Suave, the Donn lineup includes Super Frolic, West Virginia, Brass Hat, and the Nick Zito-trained trio of Andromeda's Hero, Seek Gold, and Pies Prospect.

Magna Graduate will likely go postward the slight favorite in the Donn after completing his 3-year-old campaign with three straight wins, including victories in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes and Grade 3 Discovery Handicap along with his game effort in the Clark. A son of Honor Grades, Magna Graduate did not finish worse than second in five starts since being transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn midway through a season that saw him bank more than $1 million for owner Elisabeth Alexander.

"I'm not sure he's coming in 100 percent off the layoff, but running horses fresh tends to work for us, and he should be tight enough," said Pletcher. "There's not a whole lot between us and Suave, and we're getting an unfavorable weight shift for the rematch."

Magna Graduate was in receipt of two pounds from Suave in the Clark (118-116), but must concede two pounds to that rival in the Donn.

Suave started only five times in 2005, posting a pair of victories, including an easy win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap. He was second behind Borrego in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and fifth after forcing the pace in the Breeders' Cup Classic, before closing out the year with his near miss as the 2-1 favorite in the Clark.

"They were head-bobbing all the way down the stretch," said trainer Paul McGee. "And to be honest, it looked like Suave was going to go by him the whole way. Unfortunately we came out on the short end. But we have big hopes for him the way he finished off last year and are a little starry-eyed coming into this season."

The Donn will also provide Suave a chance to turn the tables on Super Frolic, who beat him by a head in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Super Frolic ran perhaps the best race of his career to finish fourth, less than three lengths behind Saint Liam, despite stumbling badly at the start.

Super Frolic's most important win in 2005 came in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. He has not started since the Classic, but looked sharp working a half-mile in 46 seconds after shipping to Gulfstream earlier this week.

On Thin Ice will be taking a big jump in class for the Donn but is at the top of his game. He comes off a 5 3/4-length win here in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap on Jan. 7, when he set a nine-furlong course record of 1:48.05.

"He's as good and as fit as he's ever been right now," said trainer Joe Orseno. "This is a big step up for him, but I don't think we've seen the best of him yet."

Brass Hat, a three-time Grade 2 winner, returned from a 13-month layoff due to a condylar fracture in his right front ankle to capture his last two starts, including the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on Jan. 7. A son of Prized, Brass Hat defeated Suave by nearly two lengths to win the Grade 2 Indiana Derby in the fall of 2004.

Andromeda's Hero is the most accomplished of the Zito threesome, all of whom are owned by Robert La Penta. After chasing home Magna Graduate in his three previous starts, Andromeda's Hero registered his first victory in nearly nine months in Calder's Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap on Dec. 17.

The field

Donn Handicap
Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1On Thin IceS. Bridgmohan1166-1
2SuaveE. Prado1175-2
3West VirginiaC. DeCarlo11410-1
4Magna GraduateJ. Velazquez1197-2
5Super FrolicC. Velasquez1183-1
6Seek GoldJ. Castellano1139-2
7Andromeda's HeroR. Bejarano1159-2
8Pies ProspectJ. Rose1149-2
9Brass HatW. Martinez1188-1

* Odds by Kenny Peck
* Coupled: Seek Gold, Andromeda's Hero, Pies Prospect
* Blinkers off: West Virginia