02/09/2009 12:00AM

Stevil in hunt for a second act


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - At this time last year, Stevil was on the Kentucky Derby trail, only he never quite lived up to expectations. But one thing Stevil can be expected to do is take the measure of his eight rivals in Wednesday's $42,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Stevil did not have sufficient graded earnings to qualify for the 2009 Derby following his fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. He did, however, ultimately participate in the Triple Crown, finishing a respectable fifth after being knocked around near the half-mile pole in the Preakness.

Stevil, a son of Maria's Mon, has been lightly raced ever since the Preakness. He has made just four starts over the past nine months, including his 2009 debut, in which he finished a game third while beaten a neck, going a mile under entry-level allowance conditions here on Jan. 10.

"He's a nice horse and one who we thought would be much better than he was as a 3-year-old, but things just didn't pan out," said trainer Nick Zito. "This is a new year, and I thought he ran very well in his first start. Going a mile and one-eighth on Wednesday should help him. He's also got a good post, so I look for him to run a big race once again."

Stevil, who has not finished worse than third in three starts at Gulfstream, will break from post 3 under jockey Jose Lezcano.

Like Stevil, Sr. Henry also had graded stakes experience at 3, although his best races have been on grass, including a second-place finish in the Grade 2 American Derby last summer at Arlington Park. Sr. Henry, who joined trainer Ken McPeek's stable in Kentucky during the fall, finished fourth, nearly four lengths behind Stevil, when he was switched to the main track for his local debut.

Forty Zip closed out his 2008 campaign in good form, posting a pair of conditioned claiming wins at the Meadowlands before shipping to Calder to finish second and third in a pair of first-level optional claiming and allowance races.

Edge of a Shadow, He's the Commander, Southern Terminus, East End Tap, Pegasian, and Chinsegut Bay complete the field.

East End Tap, sixth in the 2008 Queen's Plate and second behind Harlem Rocker in the Prince of Wales Stakes last summer at Fort Erie, will put blinkers back on for Wednesday's headliner.