01/19/2008 12:00AM

Southern Terminus stretches to route

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was a little surprised by the performance of Southern Terminus when he easily won his career debut at 2. But the Eclipse Award-winning horseman doesn't sound like he will be shocked in the least if the colt comes right back to win again when he takes on 10 rivals going 1 1/8 miles in Monday's $41,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Southern Terminus rallied from fourth down the backstretch to a 5 1/2-length maiden special weight victory going six furlongs over the Aqueduct inner track when he launched his career on Dec. 1.

"He was kind of a lazy horse in the morning and kind of surprised me a bit that he ran as well as he did the first time," said Pletcher. "Now it's time to step up the ladder and see what we've got. I've wanted to stretch him out off that victory, and while I'd prefer not going right to a mile and one-eighth, that's the option we have right now."

Pletcher said that Southern Terminus couldn't be doing better for his 3-year-old debut and that he's not concerned about the added distance.

"He's by More Than Ready, but distance shouldn't be an issue, because he's out of a Cox's Ridge mare," he said. "He drew well, being on the inside, and coming off a sprint I expect him to be forwardly placed going a mile and an eighth."

Nick Zito has been eagerly awaiting a chance to run Fierce Wind and Aquarian, two of his bevy of potential Kentucky Derby candidates, around two turns since the meet began. Both horses are coming off impressive maiden wins in their juvenile finales. Fierce Wind, a son of Dixie Union, graduated by 10 1/4 lengths in his first race around two turns, at Calder on Dec. 16. Aquarian, by Fusaichi Pegasus, was a game winner at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs and is the only horse in the field with a race at the distance under his belt.

Mambo Meister and Atwell engaged in a suicidal speed duel going a mile when they were well-beaten by the promising Visionaire here on Jan. 4. Both may have to show similar speed in the rematch to overcome their disadvantageous outside post positions considering there is such a short run to the first turn for nine-furlong races at Gulfstream.

Stephen's Gold rallied from far back to finish fourth behind Visionaire in his 3-year-old debut and might appreciate the added distance.