04/24/2005 11:00PM

Survivalist in better spot to succeed

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Survivalist, winning the Gotham, could run in the Preakness with a good performance in Saturday's Withers.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Shug McGaughey won't be running a longshot in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, he'll be running one of the favorites in Saturday's Grade 3 Withers Stakes.

Though Survivalist worked much better Monday morning than he did a week ago, McGaughey said he believes it is better to wait before running Survivalist against the best 3-year-olds in the country again.

Thus, Survivalist will be running in a one-turn mile stakes, the same conditions as when he won the Grade 3 Gotham here in March. Following the Gotham, Survivalist ran in the Wood Memorial, finishing 17 1/2 lengths behind Bellamy Road while running second.

McGaughey said he didn't want to run a longshot in the Derby, but noted that if Survivalist runs well in the $150,000 Withers, he could run back in the Preakness on May 21.

"We could always catch up with them some other time," McGaughey said Monday.

Last Wednesday, Survivalist worked a slow half-mile in 51.61 seconds over Belmont's main track. Monday, McGaughey gave Survivalist some company, and the colt worked a solid five furlongs in 59.62 seconds, the fastest of 16 at the distance. Survivalist worked in company with a 3-year-old maiden, Minister's Joy. The two worked head and head before Survivalist edged away late under Richard Migliore.

Migliore was also aboard for last week's workout and said the difference between the two works was "night and day." Migliore said the workmate was "like having a light switch going on" for Survivalist. "He was pretty competitive, very aggressive."

The Withers is shaping up to be a very competitive race. Proud Accolade, who won the Grade 1 Champagne at 2 and the Grade 2 Hutcheson earlier this year, heads the field. Stakes winners B. B. Best, Park Avenue Ball, Scrappy T, as well as Smokescreen and White Socks are also expected to run.

Funny Cide assigned 127 pounds

Funny Cide will be the heavyweight in more ways than one when he runs in Sunday's Kings Point Handicap.

The dual classic winner and champion 3-year-old of 2003, Funny Cide was assigned 127 pounds for the Kings Point, his first start against New York-bred competition since he won the Sleepy Hollow in October 2002.

The Kings Point is Funny Cide's first start since he finished 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic last October.

Trainer Barclay Tagg said he was not surprised, but was still not happy with the impost assigned by racing secretary Mike Lakow for Funny Cide's 5-year-old debut.

"It doesn't do you any good to start the year off carrying that much weight," Tagg said. "I can see why, but I think he's overdone it. He hasn't been out in six months, and he's coming off a poor race."

Funny Cide will be giving eight pounds to Spite the Devil, who won the Empire Classic last year, and 11 pounds to Yankee Mon, who has won two straight allowance races.

On Monday, Funny Cide worked seven furlongs in 1:26.68 over Belmont's main track. Regular exercise rider Robin Smullen was up for the move, which was timed in fractions of 24.80 and 48.80 seconds. He galloped out a mile in 1:40.40.

Smullen said he was pleased with the work and said the purpose of the Kings Point is to have Funny Cide ready for the Pimlico Special May 20.

"We'd love to win it, don't get me wrong," Smullen said. "But our goal is the Pimlico race."

Tagg, with Smullen saddling, swept the early daily double on Sunday, giving the stable a much-needed boost. Tagg was 3 for 47 before Sunday.

"We were glad to get back to New York, of course, hoping things would change. Luckily, they did," said Smullen.

Tagg and Smullen will send out Changing World in Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay Handicap. Changing World won the Grade 3 Violet Handicap last fall at The Meadowlands and is coming off a last-place finish in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Handicap on March 13.

Prince Rahy heads feature

Frank Alexander is one of several trainers hoping that Wednesday's rain does not force management to take races off the turf and run them on the dirt. Alexander sends out Prince Rahy, who looms the one to beat in the $44,000 feature, a non-winners-of-two allowance feature. Wednesday kicks off the last week of racing at Aqueduct.

Prince Rahy, a son of Rahy, drops back into allowance conditions after finishing fifth in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream on March 26. He was beaten only a length that day, and the sixth-place finisher from the Palm Beach, Gun Salute, came back to win the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland last week.

In the Palm Beach, Prince Rahy dueled for the lead, and Alexander said he believes the horse is better when he has something to chase.

"You got to grab him leaving there," Alexander said. "If you don't, he gets rank on the lead. He's better when he can come from out of it."

Alexander said that Prince Rahy was making a winning move in a Feb. 21 allowance race when a horse ducked out in front of him and Prince Rahy clipped his heels.

If Intimidating transfers the speed he showed on dirt to the grass, he will be the target Prince Rahy is seeking. Dynantonia and Lemon Drop King are other closers in search of pace.

Should the race be moved to the dirt, Apprentice would be the one to beat.