02/21/2003 12:00AM

New itinerary for Badge of Silver?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Owner Ken Ramsey had just won the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes with his 3-year-old Nothing to Lose, but he made more news Friday when he discussed a possible change in plans for his undefeated Kentucky Derby candidate Badge of Silver.

Ramsey said he is considering skipping the Louisiana Derby with Badge of Silver - the dominant winner of last week's Risen Star Stakes - and point to the $500,000 Illinois Derby on April 5 as the colt's final Kentucky Derby prep.

"That would give him 48 days from the Risen Star to the Illinois Derby and 28 days to the Kentucky Derby,'' Ramsey said in the Gulfstream Park winner's circle. "We're not ruling out the Louisiana Derby, but I don't want the horse to peak too soon. We may want to space his races out."

Ramsey also said he planned to discuss on Monday morning with track management at Hawthorne Race Course a possible $1 million bonus for a horse who wins the Illinois Derby and the Kentucky Derby. The now-defunct Sportsman's Park offered that same bonus last year and had to pay it out to the connections of War Emblem.

As an incentive for Hawthorne to offer the bonus this year, Ramsey said he would offer to help management pay the insurance premium.

Meanwhile, Ramsey may have picked up another Kentucky Derby candidate in Nothing to Lose, who made it 4 for 4 on turf with a half-length victory over White Cat in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Friday. Imitation finished third.

Under Jerry Bailey, Nothing to Lose overcame traffic trouble to rally from 10th place to get the victory. Nothing to Lose, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, covered the 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in 1:48.28 and returned $5.20 as the favorite.

"I was very fortunate to save as much ground as I did on the first turn, because on the second turn I wasn't so fortunate and things began to get a little rough," Bailey said. "He got bounced around pretty good in there. A lot of horses will just spit the bridle when they get bounced around like that, but he never did. He's pretty tough."

Having been told that Nothing to Lose has run better "sheet" numbers on dirt despite losing both starts on that surface, Ramsey will give the colt a chance to prove he can handle stakes company on dirt by running him in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 22. Should Nothing to Lose run well there, he could be headed for the Kentucky Derby.

"If he runs up the track on the dirt, we'll say he is a turf horse," said Ramsey, who added he believes the colt is a turf horse. "Let him prove me wrong. Mr. Lukas doesn't have a real hot prospect for the Derby right now. Heck, we could end up with a three-horse entry, who knows?"

Meanwhile, Ramsey said that Ten Cents a Shine, who came out of the Fountain of Youth with a lung infection, would not run in the Florida Derby on March 15. Ramsey said that the race was too soon back and that Ten Cents a Shine, trained by Ken McPeek, may run next in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 12.

Ramsey said that Ten Cents a Shine returned to the track on Thursday for the first time since the race and galloped one mile over Gulfstream's main track. However, later in the day, Ten Cents a Shine was vanned to Palm Meadows where he will continue to train for several weeks.

"It's a more forgiving racetrack," Ramsey said.

Ward rushing for a reason

Trainer John Ward may not have yet firmed up a plan to get Sky Mesa to the Kentucky Derby, but he has mapped out what he feels is the best way to get Perfect Story to the Kentucky Oaks.

Though it is not Ward's modus operandi to run a young horse three times in seven weeks - especially so early in the year - he feels running Perfect Story in Sunday's Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park and skipping the Bonnie Miss later in the meet will have Perfect Story fresh for the Ashland at Keeneland and the Oaks.

Perfect Story, a half-sister to 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, has already won first- and second-level allowance races at this meet. Her second-level allowance victory came just 18 days ago in what was Perfect Story's first start around two turns. Ward wants to make the Ashland, a Grade 1 race at Keeneland on April 5, and the Oaks on May 2, with Perfect Story, but also wants to give her a break at some point.

"If we waited for the Bonnie Miss [on March 14] we'd have to run 1 1/8 miles, and then post-Bonnie Miss it would only give her three weeks from there to the Ashland and four weeks to the Oaks," Ward said. "Our options are to run her, give the time now, skip the Bonnie Miss, and go straight to the Ashland. It gives you six weeks [to the Ashland] then four weeks [to the Oaks]."

Ward said the Davona Dale, run at 1 1/16 miles, would give Perfect Story added experience around two turns.

"If we get a couple of good, consistent races around two turns down here we'll be extremely happy," Ward said. "She's an animal with all her future in front of her."

Casse's plan doesn't pan out

Trainer Mark Casse took 17 stalls here this winter, the first time he has been a regular on the Gulfstream backstretch in more than 20 years. His decision to race here was predicated on the promise of 3-year-olds Added Edge, the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top 2-year-old in 2002, and Gigawatt, both of whom Casse felt had Kentucky Derby potential.

Unfortunately Casse had little chance to tap into that potential. Added Edge suffered the first loss of his career when he finished last as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Holy Bull and came out of the race with a small fracture in his left knee. He was immediately sent back to the farm in Ocala and is not expected to return to training for several more months.

Gigawatt, winner of Woodbine's Display Stakes at 2, has yet to make his 3-year-old debut. He injured his foot before shipping here for the winter and could not stand up to training upon arriving locally. Casse said he is back in training now and a couple of weeks away from his first work.

"That's what the Kentucky Derby is all about," said Casse. "You not only need a good horse and an awful lot of luck, but a deep bench. The bright spot in my particular case is that both of these are very good horses, and those can be hard to find. And both of them will be back."

Casse, who has won four races at the meet, said he plans to return here next winter.

"It's not only been fun but a good experience," he said. "And I hope to make this a regular occurrence. Fortunately, I have several good owners and we're going to keep trying to find a Derby horse."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch