02/18/2005 1:00AM

Rethinking Dubai trip for Saint Liam

Saint Liam, here wining the Donn Handicap, may race next in the March 5 Santa Anita Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A decision on Saint Liam's status for the Dubai World Cup may not come until early next week, although it would appear his connections are leaning toward passing the race in lieu of the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

Mark Reid, who serves as racing manager for Saint Liam's owners, Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr., said he would confer with them after watching Saint Liam work at Palm Meadows on Saturday before rendering a final decision.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do just yet, but if you asked me today what I thought, I'd say we're probably leaning against going to Dubai," said Reid, whose first decision as racing manager for the Warrens was to turn Saint Liam over to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

"The Dubai World Cup," said Reid, "is a scorching test on the other side of the world and should be the crowning achievement of a horse's career.

"Right now, I think Saint Liam still has a lot to prove and a lot to accomplish over here," he said. "And no matter what the people who are trying to convince you to go might say, history has proven it to be a demanding test to go to Dubai, and one many horses never recover from. I know that from firsthand experience, having been associated with a great horse like Medaglia d'Oro, who never ran again after competing in the World Cup last year."

Of course, Reid is also well aware there are six million good reasons to make the trip.

"Naturally, there are several positives to take into consideration, not the least of which is the $6 million purse," said Reid. "He's also doing very well, and the race doesn't appear to be coming up very tough."

Saint Liam's main competition, if he does go to Dubai, could come from Roses in May, whom he easily defeated here earlier this month in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Roses in May has already been confirmed as a World Cup starter by his trainer, Dale Romans.

Zito not rushing High Fly

No 3-year-old has made more news here this winter on or off the track than High Fly. A son of Atticus, he gained instant notoriety when he dominated the one-mile Aventura Stakes, but then disappointed his newfound supporters by finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the Holy Bull Stakes. He continued to grab headlines after he was suddenly transferred from trainer Bill White to Nick Zito.

Now everyone wants to know where and when High Fly will run next, but it's a subject Zito is playing close to the vest.

"The horse will tell me where to run," Zito said Friday. "Right now the most logical options would be the Fountain of Youth or the Gotham, but if he's not ready for either spot and I think I need more time, I've got the right people who own the horse who'll give me more time. The one thing I learned a long time ago is that the Kentucky Derby is run on May 7, not March 7, and for the moment I'm just trying to stay the course."

High Fly is currently stabled at Palm Meadows along with Zito's other top Kentucky Derby prospect, Sun King, and could breeze sometime this weekend.

"High Fly was brilliant in the Aventura, and my goal is to get him to that race again while having something left in the tank for the big dance, and I'm not ruling out anything at the moment," said Zito.

Zito also said that Sun King, who has not started since closing out his 3-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is not far from launching his 3-year-old campaign.

"I love him," Zito said. "He's ready to go."

Boulanger making progress at home

Jockey Gary Boulanger, seriously injured in a spill in the Mac Diarmida Handicap on Jan. 30, has returned home and continues to make good progress, according to his agent, Cory Moran.

Moran said Boulanger, who had emergency surgery to remove his spleen and a blood clot on his brain within hours after the accident, will still require additional surgery in the future.

"He's doing fine and looking good under the circumstances, although he's still got a very long road ahead of him," said Moran. "But we all still remain very hopeful Gary will make a complete recovery."

Moran said that even though Boulanger has returned home, his wife, Lisa, is restricting all visitors and phone calls for the time being.

"Once people hear he's home, they figure it's all right to call or visit, but what Gary needs more than anything at the moment is to rest," said Moran.

* B. B. Best, one of the top 3-year-old prospects stabled at Calder, worked a mile over his home course in 1:44.80 on Friday in preparation for his next start, which could come in the Fountain of Youth on March 5.