01/31/2002 12:00AM

Red Bullet shows all the right moves

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - With Lido Palace and Monarchos out of next Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap, the favorite's role for Gulfstream Park's first Grade 1 race of the meet is up for grabs. Thursday morning, Red Bullet staked his claim for that title with a strong workout.

Red Bullet, who finished second as the even-money choice in the Skip Away Handicap last month, drilled four furlongs in 47.60 seconds Thursday, the fastest of 45 works at the distance. The time wasn't as significant to trainer Joe Orseno as the way Red Bullet did it.

Orseno put a workmate about five lengths in front of Red Bullet, who eyed his partner until the three-eighths pole when he crept up alongside. The pair went to the quarter pole together, at which point Red Bullet moved ahead and went after another horse who was a sixteenth of a mile in front of him.

"He was trying to catch that horse to the wire," said Orseno, who clocked Red Bullet galloping out five furlongs in 1:01, three-quarters in 1:15, and out a mile in 1:47. "It was just a phenomenal move. We're sitting on ready."

Orseno said Thursday's work would be the final major work for Red Bullet leading up to the Donn.

Perhaps the only disconcerting part of Red Bullet's performance in the Skip Away was his failure to change leads through the stretch. Orseno said that might have been because it was Red Bullet's first race around two turns since he won the 2000 Preakness and he might have gotten a little tired. It was also his first race since a third-place finish in the Cigar Mile on Nov. 24.

"There was nothing to work on because he does it in the mornings and he changed leads this morning on cue," Orseno said.

The field for the Donn could be growing. On Thursday, trainer John Scanlan said Pleasant Divorce would run, and trainer James Bond said he is now considering running both Mongoose and Ubiquity in the race. Already confirmed are Best of the Rest, Free of Love, Graeme Hall, Hal's Hope, Kiss a Native, and Traditionally. Keats is also possible.

Pleasant Divorce is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Mac Diarmida Handicap on turf here on Jan. 20. Before that, he had won three optional claiming dirt races at Laurel Park and was second in the Grade 3 Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct. Scanlan said the defections of Monarchos and Lido Palace made him target the Donn.

"Of course, it's going to be a tough race, but it won't be as tough as it could have been," Scanlan said. "Now is the time to take a shot at something like this. He's doing real good now."

Scanlan said Ramon Dominguez, the nation's leading rider in wins in 2001, is tentatively scheduled to ride.

Meanwhile, Bond is torn about what to do with his pair of Donn nominees, Mongoose and Ubiquity. Initially, Bond said he would run just one, but now he is contemplating running both. Mongoose won a fourth-level allowance race on Jan. 19; Ubiquity has not run since winning the Clark Handicap in November.

"I'm having a problem," Bond said. "Both horses are doing 110 percent, and with Monarchos and Lido Palace out of it, the race has dropped down in stakes quality. I don't know what to do. There's an even shot that both could run and there's an even shot only one may run."

Bond said he planned to put both horses through workouts Sunday at Payson Park.

Mazza plays it conservative

Trainer John Mazza said he was tempted to run Hit the Trail, his speedy 3-year-old colt, in Saturday's $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes, but took the conservative option and instead entered him in a preliminary allowance race going six furlongs.

Hit the Trail, a son of Cahill Road, won his career debut here on Jan. 19, taking a six-furlong maiden race by three lengths. Displaying a series of bullet workouts leading up to the race, Hit the Trail was sent off as the 3-2 favorite.

"He's so good, I don't want to hurt him, I want to try to develop him," Mazza said. "We'll get another race under his belt then maybe we'll stretch him out after that."

Mazza said the race did Hit the Trail a world of good, and he seems to be more relaxed in the mornings.

"I think you're going to hear a lot from him," Mazza said. "We'll make some plans for him after this race."

Saturday's race should be a good test for Hit the Trail because he faces several early-speed types such as Lord De Ville, Ethan Man, and Jonny Done Gone.

Belle Artist keen on winning

It took Belle Artist five starts to finally win her maiden. But now that she has a taste of winning she doesn't want to quit.

Belle Artist, a daughter of Broad Brush, won her third consecutive race when she outfinished 2-5 favorite Far Sighted Sal to win a second-level allowance race on Wednesday. The start was her first since she nearly lost an eye while winning her 2001 finale at Belmont Park on Sept. 23.

"We're still not sure what hit her during that race, a rock or a loose shoe or something like that, but she went to New Bolton Hospital the next day and spent a month there," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "They did a wonderful job saving her eye, although she's still got a cloudy spot in there, which is why she wore a protective cup today."

Belle Artist has rallied from far back in her three wins. Her running style developed more by accident than design.

"She stumbled leaving the gate and fell back to last the day she broke her maiden, then came running to win," said Arnold. "She's really turned it around after that. But despite the fact it looks like she wants more ground, I think she's going to wind up being a come-from-behind sprinter. Her mother was a six-furlong horse and, even though she's by Broad Brush, I think seven furlongs may be about it as far as stretching her out goes."

Speed Hunter possible for 'Fountain'

Trainer Elliott Walden said he is considering the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes for Speed Hunter, a son of Alydeed who earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure winning his preliminary allowance condition convincingly here on Jan. 19.

"I'll look at both the Fountain of Youth and Risen Star at the Fair Grounds for his next start," Walden said by phone from Payson Park on Thursday. "I'll make a decision next week. I want to take a look at the prospective fields and then try to zig when everyone else zags. Meaning, I'll run him in the easier of the two spots."

Walden also said the Fountain of Youth is not a consideration for Axis, another of his Kentucky Derby prospects, who will make his stakes debut in Saturday's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes.

"I'll be looking to stretch him out after the Hutcheson, but bringing him back in two weeks would be too soon," Walden said of Axis, who like Speed Hunter was an impressive allowance sprint winner earlier in the meet.

* Post time for Super Bowl Sunday is moved up to noon. The main track will close for training at 9 a.m. with only one renovation break, at 6:50 a.m.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch