03/22/2006 1:00AM

Sweet Symphony to make return in Rampart


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Bill Mott did not mince his words when describing Sweet Symphony's performance in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

"She threw a stinker," said Mott, recalling Sweet Symphony's ninth-place finish in that race.

Sweet Symphony is scheduled to make her first start since that race Saturday in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap.

Prior to the Breeders' Cup, Sweet Symphony was one of the top members of her division. A homebred daughter of A.P. Indy owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, Sweet Symphony had captured each of her first four career starts, including the Grade 1 Alabama by 6 1/4 lengths over Spun Sugar. She suffered her first setback when finishing fourth behind Ashado in the Grade 1 Beldame, before completing her 3-year-old campaign in the Distaff.

"I don't really know what happened in the Breeders' Cup," said Mott. "She trained much better coming up to the race than the way she ran in there. But she had been in some tough races up to that point so we just decided to stop on her and give her time."

Sweet Symphony has been training at Payson Park for her return.

"She's doing good and training good, and if she runs back to her form from last summer or even approaches it, she should do well," said Mott.

"Right now our main objectives are the Personal Ensign and Go for Wand this summer at Saratoga if she continues to go in the right direction up to that point. We don't have to shoot for the moon until then."

The other big name on the Rampart nomination list, Grade 1 winner Balletto, is not likely to start on Saturday, according to trainer Tom Albertrani.

Balletto won the Grade 1 Frizette as a 2-year-old but has not started since finishing second behind Sweet Catomine in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"She went back to Dubai after the Breeders' Cup, but had a setback when she returned to the U.S. and needed colic surgery," Albertrani said. "She's been back in training with me since October, but is not quite ready for a race like the Rampart just yet."

Battle Won approaching season debut

Battle Won, like Sweet Symphony, has not started since a disappointing performance on Breeders' Cup Day. But he, too, is nearing his 2006 debut.

Battle Won, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap and second in both the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 1 Bing Crosby handicaps last season, finished 11th, more than 18 lengths behind Silver Train in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"He got sick after the Breeders' Cup with a lung infection," trainer Chuck Simon said. "So we just gave him time off, but he's back in training at Tampa Bay Downs and will hopefully make his first start in some kind of an allowance race at Keeneland. Our first main objective with him will be to defend his title in the Churchill Downs Handicap."

Florida Derby prospect Rehoboth works

Rehoboth, among the likely starters in the $1 million Florida Derby on April 1, worked six furlongs in 1:14 over his home base at Calder on Wednesday morning.

Rehoboth rallied to win a 6 1/2-furlong second-level allowance race in his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 14 before finishing a troubled fifth, less than two lengths behind Corinthian, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. Rehoboth, a son of Wagon Limit, is trained by Frank Gomez.

Mike Smith, Abel Castellano change agents

Jockey Mike Smith, who won the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo, has hired veteran agent Mike Sellitto to handle his riding engagements. Smith, the Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top jockey in 1993 and 1994, will ride out the weekend at Gulfstream but plans to be at Aqueduct when racing resumes on the main track there on Wednesday.

Abel Castellano, who has been riding at Laurel, will return to south Florida on April 8 and plans to ride regularly this summer at Calder. Castellano, the younger brother of jockey Javier Castellano, will turn his book over to Kevin Meyocks who will also continue to handle engagements for Chantal Sutherland through the remainder of the current session on April 23.

Barbara Destasio dies at 74

Barbara DeStasio, wife of former jockey and trainer Dick DeStasio and the mother of trainer Richard A. DeStasio, died earlier this week at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami following a long illness. She was 74.

A wake will be held at Buonfiglio Funeral Home in Revere, Mass. from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday with burial the following morning at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Mass.

* Grecian Lover will be a slight favorite in a field of six fillies and mares set to go a mile under second-level optional claiming and allowance conditions in Friday's $35,000 feature race. Grecian Lover, who earned a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure finishing second under similar conditions behind the odds-on Dubai Escapade in her last start, is one of two horses trainer Allen Jerkens has in the race, along with Yes Please.