03/08/2004 1:00AM

Prado nears 5,000th career victory

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Edgar Prado received word Monday morning that he had officially picked up the mount aboard Tapit in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby. He celebrated by winning three races that afternoon to move within six of his 5,000th career victory.

Prado was originally scheduled to ride Master David for trainer Bobby Frankel in the Florida Derby. He became available when Master David came down with a temperature and was declared from the race last Friday.

"Obviously, I was disappointed when Master David came out because he looked like a pretty live mount in the race," said Prado, who won the 2002 Florida Derby aboard Harlan's Holiday. "Sometimes things happen for the best. Tapit is obviously a very good horse, and it's sure better than sitting in the jocks room and watching the race. I know Michael [trainer Dickinson] picks and chooses his spots pretty carefully, and when he chooses one most of the time he's right."

Prado is coming off a big weekend, winning Saturday's Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes aboard Last Song. He could enjoy an even bigger one this weekend. In addition to Tapit, Prado also has calls on Christine's Outlaw in the Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap and Wynn Dot Comma in the Grade 3 Swale on the Florida Derby undercard. The following afternoon, Prado will be at Tampa Bay Downs to ride Swingforthefences, co-choice along with Limehouse in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, and likely favorite Madeira Mist in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Handicap.

All three of Prado's victories Monday were for trainer Bob Klesaris. Klesaris gave Prado his first big break, bringing him from south Florida to New England, where his career initially took off in the late 1980's.

"We've been winning races together for 15 years," Klesaris said.

Klesaris, who is splitting his time between Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park this winter, has been active at the claim box in the first two months of the meet. All three of his winners Monday - Icanseeclearly, Alkarnak, and American Star - were recent claims. Icanseeclearly and American Star were both claimed again following their victories Monday.

"I think I've claimed 16 horses at the meet and had 14 claimed away from me," said Klesaris. "My goal is to just run them where they look best and not worry about losing them."

Klesaris was quick to give a lot of the credit for his success this winter to his assistant Scott Vold.

"I've been in and out of here this winter," said Klesaris. "Scott is the one overseeing the day-to-day operation."

Exercise rider suffers aneurysm

Exercise rider Joe Mileni was rushed to Hollywood Memorial Hospital and underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain after suffering an aneurysm while galloping Steel Mine for trainer Joe Catanese at Gulfstream Monday.

According to Larry Kelly, a friend of Mileni's, he is expected to make a complete recovery.

"The ambulance crew did a marvelous job getting him off the track and to the hospital," said Kelly, who is working as an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Mileni, 48, is a free-lance exercise rider in south Florida and also serves as a valet at the Calder meeting.

Eurosilver on target for Swale

It is not often in horse racing that you can map out a plan in November for a soon-to-be 3-year-old and still be on schedule to execute that plan come mid-March. But, such is the case for leading 3-year-old Eurosilver, who will make his next start in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream.

Eurosilver wrapped up his 2-year-old campaign with a dominant victory in the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on Oct 4, his third straight win after finishing second behind stablemate Silver Wagon in his debut.

The decision was made to stop on Eurosilver, take care of a shin issue, and point for a 3-year-old campaign that hopefully included the Kentucky Derby on May 1. With Eurosilver proven around two turns, trainer Nick Zito and owner Mahmoud Fustok mapped out a three-race, pre-Derby campaign for Eurosilver that included a pair of one-turn races followed by the Blue Grass Stakes, a two-turn, 1 1/8-mile race on April 10 at Keeneland.

The first part of the plan worked out perfectly when on Feb. 4 Eurosilver won a seven-furlong, second-level allowance race by five lengths. Many outsiders figured that would be a stepping-stone to the Florida Derby, but Zito and Fustok are sticking to their guns.

"Mr. Fustok discussed this in November," Zito said. "We wanted two one-turn races for him, then the Blue Grass."

Zito noted that Secretariat had a similar schedule before sweeping the 1973 Triple Crown. Secretariat won the seven-furlong Bay Shore and the one-mile Gotham before being upset in the Wood. At 2, Secretariat won a pair of two-turn races, including the rich Garden State Stakes.

Zito said Eurosilver gets enough out of his training in the morning, so fitness will not be an issue later this spring.

"I know what I got," Zito said. "I want to hit the Blue Grass the right way. He won on that track and I want to get to the Kentucky Derby with the right credentials."

The Swale is no easy spot for Eurosilver. He will face Chapel Royal, the Sanford winner and Hopeful and Champagne runner-up, and Spectacular Bid winner Wynn Dot Comma. Dashboard Drummer, the Sapling winner, and Caiman are considered the other definites. Frisky Spider and Saratoga County are possible, though the former is also considering he Florida Derby and the latter is likely to run in the Gotham at Aqueduct on March 20.

"We just want to see a decent race from him," Zito said. "Naturally, you'd like to win, but we're sticking to the plan. Everybody wants to get to the Kentucky Derby with a chance to win; it's not an easy thing."

Eurosilver completed his preparations for the Swale at Palm Meadows on Saturday with a five-furlong work in 1:01.40 in company with a stablemate.

Lead Story works toward Rampart

Lead Story, who finished a respectable third behind Roar Emotion in last month's Sabin Handicap, worked five furlongs in a leisurely 1:03 at Palm Meadows Monday morning in preparation for Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Rampart Handicap.

Lead Story, a 5-year-old daughter of Editor's Note, ended her 4-year-old season with back-to-back wins in the Churchill Downs Distaff and Falls City Handicap in Kentucky. Her connections were pleased with Lead Story's performance in the Sabin and expect improvement in the 1 1/8-mile Rampart.

"I felt she needed the race," said Ian Wilkes, assistant to trainer Carl Nafzger. "If we get the track to back up and not favor speed we'll be okay."

Lead Story was assigned 117 pounds for the Rampart. She will face a small field that is expected to include Sightseek (121 pounds), Roar Emotion (118), and possibly Nonsuch Bay (114), Redoubled Miss (113), and Saintly Action (113).

Mayo on the Side, who was also nominated to the Rampart, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Monday. She was scheduled to leave Tuesday for Arkansas where she will run in the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Formal Attire suffers foot bruise

Formal Attire, who was beaten only two lengths when fifth in the Strub Stakes, will pass Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Skip Away due to a foot bruise, trainer Phil Serpe said.

Formal Attire worked five furlongs in 1:02 Sunday at Palm Meadows, but Serpe noticed heat and pulse in the foot. Serpe said he hopes to be able to have Formal Attire ready for the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 3.

"I think the distance will suit him," Serpe said of the 1 1/4-mile race. "There are a lot of horses going to Dubai or elsewhere."

Even without Formal Attire, the Skip Away is coming up big in numbers. Among those expected to run are Bowman's Band, the 117-pound highweight, M B Sea (116), Newfoundland (116), Whos Crying Now (115), Bourbonnais (114), Christine's Outlaw (113), Country Be Gold (113), Predawn - Lion Tamer, who earned a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in Saturday's Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap, has three options for his next start: the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, the Grade 2, $250,000 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland (both on April 10), or wait for the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 1.

- additional reporting by David Grening