01/08/2007 12:00AM

Round Pond gets back to business

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Round Pond earned herself a little rest and relaxation following her impressive victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. But now it's time to get back to work to prepare for her 2007 campaign, which could kick off in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap here on March 11.

Round Pond breezed an easy three furlongs in 38 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday morning, her first work since she rallied to a 4 1/4-length triumph in the Distaff on Nov. 4.

"She went an easy three-eighths and galloped out real good," trainer Michael Matz said. "I just wanted to give her a chance to stretch her legs a little. She was the last of my horses to come to Florida. I kept her at Fair Hill for a while. I didn't let her down completely, but she just messed around up there and went to the trails."

Matz, who trains Round Pond for the Fox Hill Farms, said he has no set plan for Round Pond's return, although his main goal is likely Oaklawn's Apple Blossom during the spring.

"I could bring her back in the Rampart, or I might even start her back on the turf instead," said Matz. "She's out of a Trempolino mare, and it might be fun to see what that would be like."

Strong Contender escapes injury

Trainer John Ward and his wife, Donna, experienced some anxious moments during and after Strong Contender's fifth-place finish in Saturday's Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap, but fortunately it appears the multiple Grade 2 winner escaped any serious injuries in his 2007 debut.

"About three or four strides out of the gate a horse to his outside cut behind him and came across his rear end - enough to cause him to throw his head up in the air," Donna Ward explained at the barn on Monday. "He appeared to be tender on his left lead during the race, and when he returned to the barn he was holding his left hind leg up. He was like a three-legged horse and we thought he'd really hurt himself. But luckily he seems fine now. It was probably just a little muscle thing."

Strong Contender was using the Hal's Hope as a prep for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 3.

Successful Ways has slight fracture

Successful Ways, who would have been one of the favorites for last Sunday's Spectacular Bid, is resting on owner George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm after suffering a slight fracture of his sesamoid while training for the race last month at Palm Meadows.

Successful Ways, a fleet son of Successful Appeal, was unbeaten as a 2-year-old, winning his maiden by a nose at Saratoga and returning to capture a first-level allowance race at Belmont Park by nearly three lengths on Sept. 29. He won both starts wire to wire.

"He was training awesome for the Spectacular Bid, but unfortunately he got hurt during his last work," Zito said. "It was just one of those things. Luckily it's nothing serious, and the Steinbrenner family is doing a good job taking care of him on the farm."

Successful Ways had worked a half-mile in 47.60, the fastest of 84 at the distance on Dec. 18 at Palm Meadows.

"If all goes well I'm hoping to have him back in the spring," said Zito.

Reminder of the path not taken

Chatain's gutsy victory in the Hal's Hope Handicap invoked some interesting memories for jockey Javier Castellano and his agent, Mike Kelly.

Castellano had ridden Chatain to victory when the son of Forest Wildcat launched his career as a 3-year-old here last February. He also was aboard Showing Up for his maiden victory the same afternoon. When the pair were entered back in the same entry-level allowance race one month later, Castellano opted to stay with Showing Up, who beat Chatain that afternoon in the one-mile event.

Eight weeks later, Castellano was to be back on Chatain for the Grade 3 Withers when trainer Tom Albertrani called Kelly to inquire whether Castellano was open to ride Bernardini in the same race.

"We had to turn Tommy down because I'd already given the call to Angel," Kelly recalled, referring to Chatain's trainer, Angel Penna Jr. "Then the morning entries were being drawn for the Withers. Angel calls me to let me know Chatain had come down with a fever and wasn't going to make the race. I called Tommy right up and I remember my exact words were, 'Tell me you haven't given the mount away on Bernardini.' The rest, as they say, is history."

Bernardini went on to win the Withers and four others stakes, including the Preakness and Travers, before finishing second to Invasor in the Breeders' Cup Classic. All with Castellano in the saddle.

"It was just a lucky break the way things turned out," said Castellano. "The same sort of thing happened when I got the mount on Ghostzapper. Jerry Bailey didn't want to ride the day he was going to run in a two-other-than allowance race, I picked up the mount, and you know what happened after that."

Cornelio Velasquez, who is now the regular rider for Showing Up, rode Chatain to victory in the Hal's Hope.

Velasquez was also aboard his other big horse in trainer Barclay Tagg's barn, 3-year-old sensation Nobiz Like Shobiz, for a five-furlong work in 1:01 on Sunday morning. The work was the second in six days for Nobiz Like Shobiz, who is pointing for the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3.

Bridgmohan back at home

Jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan was released from the hospital on Saturday and is back home and doing well following his frightening spill on opening day.

Bridgmohan was originally found to have a broken collarbone, two broken ribs, and a broken right hand after he was thrown from his mount, Toms Mulligan, who clipped heels during the sixth race on Wednesday's opening-day card. But that diagnosis has now changed.

"After taking a second set of X-rays it appears there are no broken ribs nor broken hand, so we're only dealing with the broken collarbone and his recovery time should be a lot shorter than first expected," said Bridgmohan's agent, Cory Moran. "He's happy he's home, and in much better spirits than he was in the first couple of days after the accident."