01/28/2003 12:00AM

New ground for Holiday Runner


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Holiday Runner's five-furlong, 59.40-second workout at Gulfstream Park on Tuesday morning was the best on the work tab, and it should set her up nicely for her stakes engagement this weekend.

But instead of going in the six-furlong Old Hat Stakes on Sunday as most would have expected, Holiday Runner will instead stretch out to 1 1/16 miles and try turf for the first time in Saturday's $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes.

Mike Maker, who is overseeing trainer D. Wayne Lukas's Gulfstream-based contingent this winter, said, "Wayne has been looking to stretch her out and get her on grass.

"She worked well this morning and is coming into the race in good order."

Holiday Runner tailed off after winning the first three starts of her career, including Churchill Downs's Three Chimneys Juvenile against males and Belmont's Fashion Stakes. She concluded her 2-year-old campaign by finishing third in the Grade 2 Adirondack and running 10th after stumbling badly after the break of the Grade 1 Spinaway.

"She went to the farm in Ocala for a little freshening after the Spinaway, then came back and started once in Tampa to get a race under her belt before coming down here," said Maker.

"Considering the kind of speed she has, I'm sure she'll be up there pressing the pace on Saturday."

Edgar Prado will be aboard Holiday Runner for the first time in the Herecomesthebride.

Maker also said he is uncertain whether the Lukas barn will be represented in the upcoming Fountain of Youth Stakes.

"Wayne is considering sending Ozzie Cat or Scrimshaw for the Fountain of Youth but nothing is definite at this time," he said.

Tough grass competitor

If Holiday Runner is going to make a successful turf debut in the Herecomesthebride, she is going to have to beat Sweettrickydancer.

Sweettrickydancer has won her last four starts on grass, including Calder's Hollywood Wildcat Stakes and Tropical Park Oaks. A 3-year-old daughter of Green Dancer, she is trained by Rodolfo Garcia for the La Colmena Racing Stable.

"She doesn't win impressively but she gets the job done," Garcia said, referring to the fact that Sweettrickydancer's largest margin of victory in her four wins was only 1 1/2 lengths.

Garcia said Sweettrickydancer has done well since winning the Tropical Oaks on New Year's Day.

"She's training excellent," said Garcia. "These will probably be a little different type of horses than she was beating at Calder, and I expect the race to be a bit tougher on Saturday. But win or lose I expect another big race from her."

Garcia also said, win or lose, he's probably going to give his star filly some time off after the Herecomesthebride.

"She's accomplished a lot in a short period of time, so I'll likely give her a little break and skip the next one of the filly turf stakes that comes up at the meet," he said.

"As well as she's been running she still needs more time to completely mature and develop."

Windsor Castle bound for Donn

Trainer Frank Alexander said on Tuesday that all is well with Windsor Castle, the last-to-first winner of the Hal's Hope Handicap earlier this month, and that the horse is on target for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 22.

"There is a prep race in the book on Feb. 1, but I'm probably going to skip it and just train him right into the Donn," said Alexander.

The trainer said he had discussed the schedule with Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable, owner of Windsor Castle, "and we decided it's a long year. He trains good, so we'll just go right into the Donn."

Alexander is also hoping to begin Nonsuch Bay's 2003 campaign a week from Saturday in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap. The Sabin is the main prep for the meet's cornerstone race for older fillies and mares, the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap March 1.

"I really wish I had a prep into her before the Sabin, because she's been away for quite a while," said Alexander.

"I entered her three times in a seven-furlong allowance race they had in the book, but it didn't fill. It's tough to run a horse against nice fillies off that kind of layoff, but I guess I'll have no choice."

Nonsuch Bay won the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 2 Nassau County stakes during her 3-year-old campaign but has not started since she finished second in Belmont's Pebbles Handicap, run over a muddy track on Oct. 14.

Among the other graded stakes winners expected for the Sabin are Allamerican Bertie and Softly.

Indy Dancer may go in Risen Star

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent his undefeated 3-year-old Indy Dancer out to work a leisurely five furlongs in 1:05 at Palm Meadows on Monday.

A son of A.P. Indy, Indy Dancer has rallied from far back to win his only two starts, including an impressive first-level allowance victory here on Jan. 4.

Pletcher said he is leaning toward Fair Grounds's Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 16 for Indy Dancer's next start.

- The 10th annual Gulfstream Park Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic will be held at the racetrack on Tuesday, Feb. 11, from noon to 4 p.m.