02/24/2005 1:00AM

Time right for Sun King's 2005 debut


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Nick Zito has kept Sun King out of the limelight and away from the races since his third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. But after spending the last several months training in the relative anonymity of Palm Meadows, Sun King will ship down the turnpike to launch his 3-year-old campaign, in the second and stronger division of a split entry-level allowance race carded at a mile Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Sun King, a son of Charismatic, is regarded as one of the top members of his division and a prime Kentucky Derby candidate after finishing third behind Proud Accolade and Afleet Alex in the Grade 1 Champagne and only a length behind Wilko in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"I had to take my time with him after the Breeders' Cup, because the Champagne and Breeders' Cup were tough races," said Zito, who will run Indy Storm and Our Friend Timmy in the first division of the race. "But I love him and I'm anxious to get started."

Zito resisted the temptation to wait another week and start Sun King back in either the seven-furlong Swale or the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth Stakes, both Grade 2 races. There is also a first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles scheduled for next Saturday.

"I'm a traditionalist when it comes to getting a horse ready for the Kentucky Derby," Zito explained. "I believe in these type of patterns, and I've been kind of successful doing it this way over the years. I prefer to bring him back at a mile, and this is a good time to start, because it will allow me to give him three races before the big one."

Among Sun King's chief rivals Saturday is the undefeated Monarch Lane and Survivalist, who along with Defer is one of trainer Shug McGaughey's top Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

Survivalist, a son of Danzig, may have an edge over Sun King since he has already started once this meet. He was placed second following the disqualification of winner Qureall in a seven-furlong allowance on Feb. 5.

"I thought he's worked great since his last start," said McGaughey, "and I like the fact this race is at a mile, since it gives us a slow progression working up towards a mile and one-eighth and hopefully a mile and one-quarter later on."

Monarch Lane rallied to an easy 5 3/4-length maiden victory going seven furlongs on Jan. 16 in his only previous start.

Five Grade 2's on card

Nominations for the five stakes to be run next Saturday were released on Thursday. All five races are Grade 2's. In addition to the Fountain of Youth and Swale for 3-year-olds, there is the Gulfstream Park Handicap for older horses and both the Bonnie Miss and Forward Gal stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Among the prospective starters for the 1 3/16-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap are Eddington and Pies Prospect, who ran third and fifth behind Saint Liam in the Grade 1 Donn earlier this month. Other candidates include Contante, Zakocity, The Lady's Groom, and Second of June.

Right Daddy 2 for 2

Right Daddy kept her record perfect with a first-level allowance victory on Wednesday. It was the second victory in as many starts for Right Daddy, a 3-year-old daughter of Yes It's True, and came in her first start at a mile.

Right Daddy had earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 winning her maiden by 3 1/2 lengths here on Jan. 30. On Wednesday, she engaged in an early duel for the lead while hung wide. Despite the early pace pressure, she was able to pull away impressively through the stretch under jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

"I was very pleased with her performance," said Steve Klesaris, who trains Right Daddy. "They took it to her early, the second quarter was pretty quick, but she was still able to pull away with Cornelio only flagging her at the end. If he really knuckled down on her, it looked like there would have been more there."

Klesaris said he is undecided what would be next for Right Daddy, but was fairly certain he would look for some kind of stakes race.

"I liked the way she did this, and now that we've cleared this obstacle, getting her to go a mile, I'll start looking around and see what's out there for her," said Klesaris. "The Tampa Oaks one possible option." The Tampa Oaks will be run March 19.

Three events for Boulanger

Friends of jockey Gary Boulanger, severely injured in a racing injury here earlier in the meeting, have organized three fundraisers to be held on consecutive Tuesdays in March.

On March 8, a cruise and poker tournament will be held on the Palm Beach Princess from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tournament offers a guaranteed first prize of $25,000 to the winner.

On March 15, the press and jockeys will square off in their annual softball game, to be held at Bluesten Park in Hallandale with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.

On March 22, a golf tournament and silent auction will be held at the Raintree Golf and Country Club. Among the items auctioned off will be three lessons and a round of golf with Gary Player.