03/24/2005 12:00AM

Papi Chullo not your typical maiden


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Papi Chullo is still a maiden but he worked like a stakes horse when going five furlongs in 59.40 seconds here on Thursday in his penultimate work for the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2.

Papi Chullo, winless in four starts, finished second behind Going Wild in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes and fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths by High Fly, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes here on March 5. And owner Greg Norman is not averse to taking Papi Chullo to the Kentucky Derby even as a maiden if he runs another big race in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

"I'm not afraid nor will I be ashamed to go to Kentucky with a maiden if he's got enough graded stakes earnings to get into the Derby, because I firmly believe going a mile and one quarter he'll have to be dealt with once they turn into the stretch," Norman said.

Norman and his trainer, Salvador Gonzalez, have had a couple of minor setbacks with Papi Chullo since the Fountain of Youth but both were elated over Thursday's workout under jockey Tommy Turner.

"He finished like a freight train down the lane this morning," Norman said. "We had hoped to get company for him because typically he's a lazy work horse, but we couldn't find anybody, so he breezed alone. But Tommy said once he switched to his right lead in the stretch he exploded."

Foot problems and the warm south Florida weather have caused trouble for Papi Chullo over the last several weeks, Norman said.

"We had issues with his feet prior to the Sham, and he wore glue-on shoes for the Fountain of Youth, but they seemed to be bothering him," Norman said. "He's got regular shoes on now, and we've been working diligently trying to make his feet as comfortable as possible.

"He also came down with a little virus, which we've been treating with some medication. And we've been trying to get him out as early as possible in the morning to beat the heat and humidity."

Russell Baze rode Papi Chullo in the Fountain of Youth but Norman has secured the services of Robby Albarado for the Florida Derby.

"I think Robby's style should fit this horse well," Norman said. "He got shuffled too far back in the Fountain of Youth and we'd like him to be closer to the pace but not use him unnecessarily to get there."

Norman said Papi Chullo will have his final Florida Derby work here Tuesday.

Papi Chullo is one of six 3-year-olds currently confirmed for the Florida Derby. The others are High Fly, Bandini, Noble Causeway, Closing Argument, and B. B. Best.

Madcap Escapade departure delayed

Madcap Escapade, who opened her 2005 campaign with an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Handicap here on Feb. 19, will spend a little more time in south Florida than originally planned.

Trained by Frank Brothers, Madcap Escapade was originally scheduled to fly to Keeneland on Wednesday but is now scheduled to remain stabled at Gulfstream Park until April 3.

"Frank just decided to give the weather in Kentucky a chance to break and that other situation a little longer to clear up," said Brothers's assistant, Lisa Sloan, referring to the outbreak of strangles at the Trackside training center in Louisville, which officials said Thursday has been contained. "Why go up there and put ourselves in the middle of that problem if it's not necessary? We're really in no rush to ship. We're not planning to run anything right away at Turfway, and she loves it here anyway."

Sloan is overseeing the daily operation of the Brothers barn at Gulfstream while Brothers is vacationing in Italy.

Brothers has earmarked either Keenland's Vinery Madison on April 13 or Oaklawn Park's Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap four days earlier for Madcap Escapade's next start. Sloan said they are "leaning" toward the Vinery Madison.

Mom's Command: Hall of Famer?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mom's Command sweep of New York's triple tiara. Her former rider Abigail Fuller-Catalano is hoping to celebrate the anniversary by having Mom's Command elected into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.

"She's been nominated a bunch of times but has been beaten out by some pretty good fillies, like All Along and Ta Wee," said Fuller, whose father, Peter Fuller, owned and bred Mom's Command.

"I know there are a lot of people who believe she already deserves to be in there. I'm just worried a lot of the younger guys who vote just don't know or remember her."

Fuller currently is training horses at Gulfstream. On Wednesday she sent out her namesake, a 3-year-old colt named Fuller, to victory in the afternoon's first race.

"My dad celebrated his 82nd birthday on Tuesday so it was good timing having the horse win the following day," said Fuller. "And we'll have Mom's Command's final baby in training this year, a 2-year-old by Albert the Great named Alvin the Great."

Morales loses 10-pound bug

Apprentice jockey Pablo Morales lost three pounds of his 10-pound bug after getting his fifth career victory, aboard Nicky Santoro in Thursday's second race.

Morales, 16, rode his first three winners in his native Peru and has now ridden two winners during the current meet here. A graduate of Peru's jockey school, Morales's book is being handled by Cory Moran.