04/04/2004 11:00PM

Pico Central's speed earns him Carter trip


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The last time trainer Paulo Lobo was in New York was August 2002, when he won the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga with Farda Amiga, who later was named champion 3-year-old filly. On Saturday, Lobo returns to New York with Pico Central, a good-looking winner of the Grade 2 San Carlos in March at Santa Anita, for Aqueduct's Grade 1 Carter.

Lobo began training Pico Central, a Brazilian-bred, in August 2003. Before coming to the United States, Pico Central raced in Brazil for owner Christina Garlipp, a friend of Lobo's. Pico Central won 4 of 8 starts in Brazil, including two Group 1's in turf sprints. He also won a six-furlong allowance race on the dirt by 6 3/4 lengths.

In Pico Central's first start for Lobo, which was Pico Central's first race since May 2003, he was second in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Jan. 25. He was beaten less than a length and was impeded by the winner, Ride and Shine, and placed first. Pico Central ran back in the seven-furlong San Carlos on March 7 and won the race by two lengths at 43-1, earning a 113 Beyer Speed Figure. Ten days after the San Carlos, Gary Tanaka privately purchased Pico Central.

"In his first race, he fought a lot and tired in the end because he hadn't run since May," Lobo said. "I wasn't surprised by the San Carlos, because he is a fast horse. The way he won, we should run [in the Carter]. He deserves to run."

Pico Central will arrive in New York on Wednesday and will be ridden by Alex Solis.

On Monday, trainer Mark Hennig said Gygistar is possible for the seven-furlong Carter. He was assigned 115 pounds. Gygistar was scratched from the Artax Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 27 because he drew the rail,

Congaree, who won the Carter last year, is the highweight at 124 pounds but is not expected to run. The probable field is Strong Hope (119 pounds), Pico Central (117), Badge of Silver (114), Eye of the Tiger (114), Don Six (112), and Secret Run (112).

Daydreaming to run in Comely

Daydreaming, coming off a win in a first-level allowance race where she encountered traffic problems at Gulfstream on March 1, will run in Friday's $100,000 Comely Stakes.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, Daydreaming worked a half-mile Sunday at Belmont Park over a sloppy main track in 50.02 seconds. Javier Castellano will ride Daydreaming in the Comely, a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

Daydreaming won her maiden in her career debut at Saratoga in July. She raced twice more as a 2-year-old, finishing third in the Spinaway and fourth in the Frizette.

"In the Spinaway, she went to her nose out of the gate and [John Velazquez] said she lost all chance," said McGaughey. "She came out of the Frizette with a fracture in a back ankle and needed time, but no surgery."

Among the expected starters for the Comely are Daydreaming, A Lulu Ofa Menifee, Bending Strings, Fond, Irish Melody, Please Take Me Out, and Rare Gift.

McGaughey said he has no definite plans for Jackpot, the upset winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. The win was Jackpot's first in a stakes.

Swingforthefences returns home

Swingforthefences will return to his home track when he runs in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial.

Since winning a maiden race at Aqueduct in November, Swingforthefences has run three times in Florida. He placed second in an allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 24 and then won his next start by 5 1/4 lengths on Valentine's Day. Four weeks later, he finished third in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby.

Trainer Rick Violette liked Swingforthefences's race in the Tampa Bay Derby, even though Swingforthefences came up a bit empty in the stretch.

"He kind of lost it warming up and was super active - dripping wet," Violette said. "A lot of times when a horse is quite that animated, they'll run out the back door, but he didn't. Usually, he's a pretty cool customer."

Swingforthefences, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Palm Meadows on Saturday, was scheduled to arrive in New York on Tuesday.

Funny Cide eyes Pimlico Special

Funny Cide, the dual classic winner and last year's champion 3-year-old, came out of his victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap in good order and will be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Pimlico Special on May 14.

Funny Cide's half-length victory over Evening Attire in the Excelsior was his first stakes win since last year's Preakness Stakes. Funny Cide stalked the pace-setting Host, took over approaching the top of the stretch, and held off Evening Attire in the stretch. Funny Cide, trained by Barclay Tagg, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

"Barclay said leave him alone and whatever he wants to do let him do it," said assistant trainer Robin Smullen. "When [Mike] Luzzi wanted the lead, Funny Cide was perfectly content to lay second, and that was beautiful. It was the first time there was no game plan, it was whatever Funny Cide wants to do."

Trainer Pat Kelly has not yet picked out a next spot for Evening Attire. Kelly could run him in the Pimlico Special or nominate to the Fort Marcy on the turf here April 24 and hope rain transfers that race to the main track. The Westchester, a one-turn mile race run at Belmont on May 5, is also a possibility.

Kelly said the only definite race on Evening Attire's calendar is the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs on June 19. Mary and Joseph Grant, part-owners of Evening Attire, are from the Boston area.

Rogue Agent heads feature

Rogue Agent would have provided some pace in the Excelsior, but trainer Michael Brice held him out of that race for Wednesday's $48,000 third-level allowance feature. Rogue Agent will face four.

Brice is hoping to use the nine-furlong race as a prep for the $75,000 Kings Point Handicap against New York-breds on May 2. Last November, Rogue Agent won two allowance races at nine furlongs in a 12-day span over the main track. Since then, he has competed in three stakes, finishing no worse than third.

Rogue Agent may have to deal with early pace pressure Wednesday from Epoxy, a winner of three straight races. If a duel develops, Kissin Saint would appear best suited to take advantage. He has run two good races over the main track, including a third behind Empire Maker and Funny Cide in last year's Wood Memorial.

- additional reporting by David Grening