01/18/2008 12:00AM

Song Shan aims to build on win


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Sunday's feature race at Gulfstream Park may only be a first-level allowance dash with a field of seven older horses, but it could end up showcasing the talents of at least one potential stakes-caliber individual, Song Shan, who figures to go postward as the heavy favorite in the $42,000 main event.

Song Shan, a 4-year-old homebred son of Golden Missile owned by Frank Stronach, has started just four times but is coming off his best effort yet - an easy and very impressive 5 1/2-length maiden special weight triumph going seven furlongs at Calder on Jan. 2.

"We really have high hopes for him," said Brian Lynch, who trains the large and powerful contingent of Stronach Stable horses bedded down at Palm Meadows for the winter. "He started out too late to make the Queen's Plate last season, so we tried him on grass the first two times hoping to get him to the mile and one-half Breeders'," the turf race that ends Canada's Triple Crown. "But after his second start, he came up with a slight tibia problem that required some time off."

Song Shan returned five months later, finishing a much-improved second going seven furlongs over the Woodbine Polytrack.

"He ran well in his third start, and that really set him up for the race at Calder," Lynch said. "He trains like a stakes horse and showed a bit of class when he won his maiden the way he leveled off and found another gear when challenged."

About Lynch's only concern Sunday is the six-furlong distance of the race.

"We really wanted to bring him back going seven-eighths or further, but as good as he is right now, I'm hoping six furlongs won't be a problem," Lynch said.

Port Royal may relish the turnback in distance after finishing a tiring fifth going a mile under entry-level allowance conditions here two weeks earlier. The nicely bred son of Giant's Causeway also ran well at Calder, finishing second behind Lynch's undefeated Kapazunder in his 3-year-old finale.

Trainer Garry Lee is hoping U R Da Best can revert to the form that saw him earn a 101 Beyer Figure when winning his career debut by 6 1/2 lengths this summer at Monmouth.