04/08/2003 11:00PM

Pimlico Special may be next for Aeneas


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Aeneas, who extended the 9-5 favorite Hero's Tribute through midstretch before finishing second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, could make his next start against division leader Medaglia d'Oro in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special May 16.

Aeneas went postward at 54-1 but ran like one of the favorites in the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap, circling four wide around the second turn to engage Hero's Tribute. The effort was the best yet for Aeneas, a 4-year-old son of Capote who was one of Hero's Tribute's stablemates before being switched to trainer Martin Wolfson's barn when he was sent to south Florida last fall.

Wolfson, noting that Medaglia d'Oro faced only four in his Oaklawn Handicap win on Saturday, said Aeneas will run in the Pimlico Special if the presence of Medaglia d'Oro keeps the field short. Otherwise, Wolfson said, he will run Aeneas in the Grade 3, $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race at Calder May 26.

It's okay, sleep in on Friday

Friday's 3 p.m. post time marks the first twilight program in the history of Gulfstream Park. The $50,000 Open Mind Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was supposed to highlight the card, but the race had to be scrapped when the race failed to fill Wednesday. The race attracted only nine nominees.

Replacing the Open Mind as the featured race on Friday's program is a $38,000 third-level allowance race at one mile on the turf.

Topping the field is Thunder Chief, who was claimed March 27 for $62,500 by leading trainer Mark Shuman in the interests of owner Mike Gill.

Thunder Chief has won four of his last five starts, dating back to August 2002. His lone loss during that span came under similar allowance conditions when he stumbled at the break and was forced to take up sharply on the turn. He is the most accomplished member of the field at both the distance and over the local course, having captured three of five previous starts at one mile and three of five on the Gulfstream turf.

Kevin Krigger will ride Thunder Chief. Krigger recently moved his tack to south Florida from northern California and rode his first local winner in Wednesday's sixth race, guiding Sledge to an easy victory for Shuman.

Paul Toscano, another recent arrival to help fill a suddenly depleted jockey colony, also got his first local victory Wednesday when Cellars Merlot defeated Me and Mr. Z.

Both Krigger and Toscano plan to stay on regularly when Calder opens later this month.

Turf sprinters on tap

A pair of five-furlong turf stakes races, the Yankee Affair and its filly counterpart, the Bob Slater, highlight this weekend's action. Both races offer $75,000 purses.

The Slater will likely have yet another rematch between arch-rivals Flying Birdie and Petrina Above, who will meet for the seventh time dating back to the summer of 2002. Flying Birdie got the better of Petrina Above in their most recent encounter, posting a 2 3/4-length victory in a prep race for the Slater here March 26.

* Apprentice jockey Leroy Nelson was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood complaining of shoulder pains following a spill aboard Sur Dixie in Wednesday's first race. Nelson, 22, rides with a 10-pound apprentice allowance and has won two races from 40 mounts during the meet.