02/16/2007 12:00AM

Two on fence for Fountain of Youth


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Decisions, decisions.

Trainers Mike Gorham and Bill Currin are faced with the dilemma of deciding whether to run Kentucky Derby hopefuls Adore the Gold and Stormello in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes or choose alternative spots.

Gorham stood out near the quarter pole gap looking over the muddy racetrack during training hours on Friday morning when asked for the umpteenth time over the past week which direction he was heading with Swale Stakes winner Adore the Gold. His options are either the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth or 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, both of which will be decided here March 3.

"Right now I'm still not 100 percent sure where we're heading, although if everything goes ideally over the next couple of weeks I'd prefer to run in the Fountain of Youth," said Gorham, who trains the homebred Adore the Gold for owner John Murphy. "I'll breeze him twice more and see how he goes before making a final decision. The second work next weekend will probably be the more serious of the two, a good five-eighths, after which I'll let him gallop out strong. After that I'll have a pretty good idea what we'll ultimately do."

Adore the Gold is a son of Formal Gold, who won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap for Murphy here in 1997. Adore the Gold has captured 4 of 5 lifetime starts, including the Grade 2 Swale going 6 1/2 furlongs in his 3-year-old debut. His only setback came in the Grade 3 Nashua when he finished a tiring fifth behind the undefeated Day Pass.

"He's already won around two turns, so I know he can get a distance of ground, and his pedigree says he should be able to get a mile and one-quarter," said Gorham. "Obviously we've got to have the Derby in the back of our minds at this point, although right now I just want to take it one race at a time. You can't look too far ahead because too many things can happen in this business."

Currin is ready and willing to ship Stormello cross-country from Southern California for the Fountain of Youth, but may have to go another route if he can't secure a flight to Florida in time to make the race.

"The horse is ready to go - all I need is the transportation," Currin said shortly after Stormello worked at Hollywood Park on Friday. "The problem is it looks like I'm the only one coming that way from California, and at the moment there are no flights."

Currin was pleased with Stormello's work, a mile in 1:39, which was a little slower than he had originally planned.

"The track was very slow here this morning, which is probably a good thing or he might have gone in 37 or 38," said Currin.

Currin said that if he can't book a flight to Florida, his most likely option for Stormello would be to run him in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis at Santa Anita the same day.

"He doesn't need to work any more," said Currin. "What he did this morning is sufficient to go into [the Fountain of Youth]. All I need to do now is find a way to get him there."

Tagg postpones drill for 'Nobiz'

Trainer Barclay Tagg had a much easier decision on Friday when he canceled a scheduled five-furlong work for Fountain of Youth favorite Nobiz Like Shobiz due to the track condition.

"I'll run him in the mud if I have to, but there's no sense working him in it," Tagg said. "The problem is I don't have much time to play with, so I'm just hoping the track is better and I can work him Saturday and won't have to wait another day. I'd like to get three works into him between now and the Fountain of Youth if I can."

Tagg had both good and bad luck on Thursday: He sent out Last Best Place to beat a strong group in the afternoon's $48,000 allowance feature on the turf, only to have his horse suffer a condylar fracture in his ankle pulling up after the race.

"He's scheduled for surgery today," said Tagg. "He broke the other ankle last year and they had to put a bunch of screws in to fix it. He'd been doing real good since coming back to the track, and he ran real hard to win this race. He's such a lovely little horse, but unfortunately a bit brittle."

Tagg, who said he thought the injury occurred about a sixteenth of a mile past the finish line, said it's doubtful Last Best Place will return to race again.

"He's a stakes winner by Gone West, so hopefully they'll find a place for him to be bred," said Tagg.

Mustanfar works at Palm Meadows

The bad weather that plagued Gulfstream on Friday did not affect training the same morning at Palm Meadows, where both the main and turf tracks were open for business. Among the horses to drill on the grass was Mustanfar, who went a half-mile in 48.60 seconds for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Mustanfar is among the 19 horses nominated for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap, to be run here on Feb. 24. Last year's winner, Einstein, and Eclipse Award finalist English Channel are among the other prominent names on the nomination list for the 1 3/8-mile grass fixture.

Mo Cuishle heads feature after delay

If Sunday's $49,500 feature event has a familiar look to it, that's because it's virtually the same race that went by the wayside when Monday's racing program was canceled after the first race.

Five of the six fillies and mares entered to go a mile on the main track Monday will try again Sunday, including trainer Todd Pletcher's once-beaten Mo Cuishle, who figures to go postward the solid favorite in the third-level optional claiming event. A daughter of Saint Ballado, Mo Cuishle won her first three starts, including the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, by an average margin of five lengths. She then suffered her only setback in her 3-year-old finale when last of six in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap on Nov. 24.

Prop Me Up, Cat Can Do, Pleasant Laughter, and Royal Fudge were also re-entered, with Kicks the only runner who was not in the original field.