03/31/2005 12:00AM

'Outlaw' capable of firing fresh


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In the aftermath of the greatest triumph of his nascent training career, George Weaver is not expecting a letdown any time soon.

"I'll probably be on cloud nine the rest of the year," said Weaver.

A perpetual state of euphoria would be quite understandable: Last Saturday, Weaver sent out Saratoga County to win the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen. One week later, Weaver will be at Gulfstream Park to try to recapture a fraction of that excitement when he runs Christine's Outlaw in the Artax Handicap on the Florida Derby undercard.

At first glance, would not appear to be a major contender in the $100,000 Artax, a 7 1/2-furlong race that drew eight older horses. Christine's Outlaw was soundly beaten in his final three starts last year, forcing Weaver to back off and start over.

"There was nothing specific wrong with him," said Weaver. "We did the nuclear scan routine and didn't find anything substantial. We said, 'Look, after three subpar efforts, we'll just give him a little time off and bring him back next year.' "

Weaver said the decision was based partly on the logic that Christine's Outlaw "came back very well fresh last year" when he won a second-level allowance sprint at Gulfstream by six lengths. That race followed a four-month layoff. Overall, Christine's Outlaw is 3 for 5 on the Gulfstream main track.

"He's been training very well the last few weeks," Weaver said. "This race should tell us what direction to take him this year."

Christine's Outlaw, with Edgar Prado to ride, has Gygistar as his most formidable rival Saturday.

Gygistar, the 118-pound highweight, has earned $870,205 from 24 starts and most recently tuned up with a resounding victory in a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream. Mark Hennig is the trainer of Gygistar, who will break from the outside post under Javier Castellano.

Other contenders include Value Plus, a Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old with dangerous early speed, and Twilight Road, a consistent 8-year-old with 11 wins and 12 seconds from 48 starts.

Built Up, Kennel Up, Stockholder, and Super Frolic complete the field.

The Artax, named for the 1999 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, was first run in 2002. The 2004 winner was Speightstown, the eventual BC Sprint and Eclipse Award

winner. Speightstown was trained by Pletcher, for whom Weaver, 34, worked before opening his own public stable in November 2002.