02/09/2006 1:00AM

Owner's death puts turf debut of Silver Wagon on hold


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The death of owner-breeder Mahmoud Fustok on Wednesday had an immediate impact on the local racing program. Trainer Ralph Ziadie had planned to enter four horses owned by Fustok's Buckram Oak Farm on Saturday's program, including Grade 1 winner Silver Wagon, who was scheduled to make his turf debut in the Grade 3 . Instead, none of them will run, upon instruction from Buckram Oak's racing manager Mohammed Moubarak.

"I have no clue what's going to happen with the horses," said Ziadie. "Mohammed told me this morning not to enter anything for Saturday. Out of respect for Mr. Fustok you have to do that. Beyond that I just don't know what to expect."

Ziadie has 14 horses for Buckram Oak, the best being Silver Wagon, with whom he won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga during the summer of 2004.

Ziadie said he had high hopes for Silver Wagon in the Appleton.

"The way he worked on the turf, I thought he would be real tough in this race," said Ziadie.

Ziadie said he was shocked when Moubarak called him Thursday morning and told him of Fustok's death.

"It's a tough loss," Ziadie said. "Not only to me but to racing on a whole. Mr. Fustok was the kindest, nicest, best person one could ever meet. He was good to everybody around him, a good-hearted person. Words can't explain the type of man he was."

Rematch fails to materialize

Thursday's fourth race was supposed to feature a rematch between trainer Todd Pletcher's undefeated Half Ours and Nick Zito's Grade 3 stakes winner Beacon Shine, whose only loss in three starts was to Half Ours last spring in the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs. But in the end neither got the chance to run.

Pletcher scratched Half Ours earlier in the day after Half Ours came up a little sore that morning. Beacon Shine made it into the starting gate as the even-money favorite in the race, a second-level allowance dash, only to stumble and drop jockey Javier Castellano leaving the gate.

Said Pletcher of Half Ours: "He was a little off behind this morning, and even though he trained and seemed 100 percent, I decided to take him out to get to the bottom of the problem. It's something faint, but it's there. The best-case scenario would be a foot bruise."

Things worked out for Pletcher in the end, however, when his other horse, Tompest, won the race. Tompest led throughout under jockey Chris DeCarlo despite being pressed for most of the trip by the riderless Beacon Shine.

"I didn't see the other horse until we'd gone about three-sixteenths of a mile," said DeCarlo. "I thought about taking my horse back, but there were two others behind me, so I decided to just stay in there where I was. The loose horse didn't look like he was going to drop over, he seemed to just be waiting on mine. We both started to drift through the stretch, so I just let mine continue out and used the loose horse as a blocker."

DeCarlo has become Pletcher's second-call rider over the past year, and his career has flourished as a result.

"He put me on the map," DeCarlo said, referring to Pletcher. "And when other people see a trainer like Todd rides me, that helps too."

Ward fillies work for season debuts

Trainer John Ward worked two of his top older fillies, For All We Know and Miss Matched, here Thursday and said both remain on target to make their 2006 debuts here Feb. 18. Miss Matched will run in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, and For All We Know will run in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"Miss Matched proved herself at a mile and one-eighth last year," said Ward. "We'll keep For All We Know in races of a mile or less for at least the first half of the season."

Mullul to represent Douglas

Jockey Rene Douglas has hired veteran agent Danny Mullul to handle his engagements here during the remainder of the meet. Douglas, who recently returned to the U.S. after spending the last three months in his native Panama attending to his critically ill father, said he plans to resume riding Feb. 15.

Mullul has had a long and successful association with jockey Joe Bravo, who is sidelined after suffering severe back injuries in a spill here opening day.