03/01/2008 1:00AM

Visionaire headed to Gotham


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After weighing several options, trainer Michael Matz has decided on Saturday's Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct for Visionaire's next start.

Visionaire, listed at 40-1 on Daily Racing Form's Derby Watch, finished third behind Pyro in the Risen Star Stakes after opening his 3-year-old campaign with an impressive allowance victory here. Visionaire completed preparations for the Gotham by breezing five furlongs in 1:00.60 seconds at the Palm Meadows training center on Saturday.

"I thought he went nicely - he's not really a big work horse," said Matz, who added that rider Peter Brett "said he couldn't pull him up during the gallop-out."

Matz said he "finally settled on the Gotham because it looks like the best alternative at this time. The Louisiana Derby is coming up very tough, and I want to give him the best chance I can to earn some money and see where he fits in the Derby picture."

Matz said he is a bit concerned about the weather and the fact that Visionaire will be making his first start over Aqueduct's inner track.

"Obviously the inner track's a question, but he's got a good head on him and has handled every track we've tried him on so far," said Matz.

Tagg picking his spots

Trainer Barclay Tagg knows he will have to face Eclipse Award champion War Pass somewhere along the Derby trail with his top 3-year-olds Tale of Ekati, Elysium Fields, and Big Truck. But he doesn't want to do it just yet, at least not at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Tampa Bay Derby.

Tagg said he will pass the Tampa Bay Derby on March 15 if War Pass goes as scheduled. He will run two horses, most likely Big Truck and Jockey Ridge, if for some reason the division leader passes the race.

"If the Tampa Bay Derby was at 1 1/8 miles, I'd probably take a shot, but at 1 1/16 miles I don't think anybody will beat War Pass," said Tagg.

Meanwhile Tagg remains committed to the Louisiana Derby with Tale of Ekati, who will have his final work on Monday before shipping to New Orleans on Wednesday.

* Commentator and Chatain both had their final tune-ups at Palm Meadows on Saturday for a likely confrontation this coming weekend in the Grade 2 Richter Scale Handicap. Commentator worked a half-mile in a leisurely 49 seconds, while Chatain went five-eighths in 59.80.