02/01/2005 12:00AM

Saint Liam fires bullet

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Roses in May, second to the eventual Horse of the Year, Ghostzapper, in the Breeders' Cup Classic, will face Saint Liam in Saturday's Donn Handicap, thefirst race of 2005 for both horses.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Saint Liam has spent more than one month at Palm Meadows preparing for Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap, but with the race now days away, it was time to break camp and head down the turnpike to Gulfstream Park. Saint Liam's trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., wanted to leave nothing to chance, so he sent Saint Liam to Gulfstream for a final blowout Tuesday morning.

With jockey Rudy Rodriguez aboard on a bright, beautiful morning, Saint Liam flew through a half-mile in 47 seconds, the fastest work of 18 at the distance. That finished off a series of preps that has left Dutrow eager to see Saint Liam take on Roses in May in the Donn.

"He's sitting on a big race, he really is," Dutrow said after Saint Liam cooled out. "I haven't had to miss one minute of anything. He's on target."

He better be. The Donn also features the 2005 debut of Roses in May, last seen running what was perhaps the most underappreciated performance of 2004. He was second in the Breeders' Cup Classic to the Horse of the Year, Ghostzapper, finishing four lengths clear of Pleasantly Perfect.

Both Roses in May and Saint Liam have similar front-running styles. Saint Liam wore blinkers for his last race, in which he captured the Clark Handicap on Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs, and he had a bright pink pair on for Tuesday's work. He came through the stretch on a straight line, without showing some of his past tendency to drift.

"Everything went well," Rodriguez said. "He's ready."

Edgar Prado, the jockey in Saint Liam's last five starts, will ride him in the Donn.

"I don't know if the blinkers helped him in the Clark or not," Dutrow said. "Prado thinks he relaxes more with them, so we'll keep them on. He ran better in the Clark, but he was supposed to beat those horses. I usually breeze him in blinkers every other time."

Saint Liam will remain at Gulfstream through Saturday. Dutrow said he would school Saint Liam in the paddock a couple of times later this week.

"I'm hoping going [to Gulfstream] early will be some kind of an advantage," Dutrow said.

In addition to Roses in May and Saint Liam, the Donn is also expected to include Contante, Eddington, and the Nick Zito-trained pair of Pies Prospect and Seek Gold.

Seek Gold was second in the Clark after balking at the starting gate while being loaded, then veering in to clobber Saint Liam leaving the gate.