12/04/2002 12:00AM

Sir Bear cranking up for Sunshine Millions


MIAMI - Sir Bear, whose form has tailed off during the second half of this season, is not done yet.

Trainer Ralph Ziadie said Wednesday he plans to point Sir Bear to another Gulfstream Park campaign, with his major goal the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 25.

Sir Bear began the year by winning Gulfstream's Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap and finishing third in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap. But he was badly outrun in three of his four subsequent starts, including his last two races at Calder, finishing far back in the My Mac and Spend a Buck handicaps.

"He's never run well at Calder but then improves dramatically once moving to Gulfstream," said Ziadie. "He's doing as well now as he was at this time last year. I plan to run him here in the Fred Hooper Handicap [a Grade 3 on Dec. 28]. If he wins, fine. But if not, it will serve as a good prep for our main objective which is the $1 million race."

Nominations for the Sunshine Millions Classic and the seven other races on the $1,850,000 Millions card at Gulfstream and Santa Anita Park on Jan. 25 close next Monday.

Royal Lad heads for Texas

Ziadie will stay home this weekend, but has sent his son Kirk to saddle Royal Lad in the Great State Challenge Sprint at Sam Houston Race Park. "We could have kept him here to run him in the Kenny Noe, but the money is much greater in Texas and that race is six furlongs while the race here is at seven," said Ziadie.

While Royal Lad will skip the $100,000 Kenny Noe to run in Texas, the connections of High Ideal declined an invitation to participate in the Great State Classic in order to run in the Kenny Noe.

"The one time I ran [High Ideal] seven furlongs he won by nine lengths and went in 1:24 so I have no problem turning him back," trainer Marty Wolfson said. "I could have held him out for the Hooper at the end of the month, but I think I'd like to duck Best of the Rest for now if I can."

New training facility gets good reviews

Early arrivals at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park's state-of-the-art training center in Boynton Beach, continue to praise the facility while acknowledging there are still bugs to be fixed.

"It's like being the first one to move into a brand new housing community," said veteran trainer Keith Sirota. "There's still work being done all around and you know you probably shouldn't be in there yet. But you're really glad that you are."

One of the biggest problems facing early arrivals at Palm Meadows is the long walk from the barn area to the race track to watch horses train. Currently, the only way to get to the track is to follow the horses up to and then back down the long quarter-mile chute adjacent to the south end of the barn area.

"I've already lost five pounds going back and forth to the track, and I'm looking for a pony," said trainer George Weaver, who was among the first on the grounds

Gulfstream Park president Scott Savin said a gate will be made available within the next few days, allowing trainers to pass directly from the barns to a viewing stand that will be constructed near the three-eighths pole.