03/31/2005 12:00AM

'Wallstreet' will come get them


NEW YORK - Florida Derby Day has always been the biggest day of the Gulfstream Park meeting. It may still be. But on its new date Saturday, five weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, Florida Derby Day is definitely the last big day of the Gulfstream session.

The Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby heads a card that also includes two Grade 2, $150,000 turf stakes, the Pan American and Orchid handicaps, as well as the Skip Away and Artax handicaps, worth $100,000 each.

Saturday is also the biggest day of the Sunland Park meet, with the $500,000 WinStar Derby and the $250,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks topping a program that also includes two other $100,000 stakes.

And on Saturday at Aqueduct, the richest race in New York so far this year will be run - the $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Florida Derby

After Wallstreet Scandal drew post 8 for this race, his trainer, Rick Violette Jr., threatened to scratch the colt and put him on a van bound for Keeneland. Violette should reconsider. While it is true that outside posts in 1 1/8-mile races at Gulfstream have been death all meeting because of the short run to the first turn, it doesn't figure to compromise a horse like Wallstreet Scandal as much as it would one with a different running style. Being a closer, Wallstreet Scandal can drop back and tuck in right out of the gate, enabling him to save some ground around the first turn, and he stands a good chance of upsetting this race at double-digit odds.

Wallstreet Scandal was a popular wise-guy pick last time out in the Louisiana Derby off a sharp allowance win on the turf in his first start this year - a victory that suggested he had improved markedly from 2 to 3. But at Fair Grounds, Wallstreet Scandal caught a track that seemed to favor speed. High Limit, Vicarage, and Storm Surge went around the track one-two-three, and the late-running Wallstreet Scandal was up against it.

This race sets up nicely for a horse with a late kick. B. B. Best will probably go to the front, but Vicarage and the heavy favorite, High Fly, will be after him early. That should result in strong fractions, and Wallstreet Scandal is capable of picking up the pieces.

Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap

It is supposed to rain in New York on Saturday. A lot. So in the expectation of a wet track, the slop-loving speedball Presidentialaffair is taken to go wire to wire.

Presidentialaffair ran one especially strong race last year in the slop at Monmouth, when he won the Skip Away by nearly eight lengths in a time fast enough for him to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 112. He also earned a Beyer of 110 in the slop when a distant second to Ghostzapper in the Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap. Presidentialaffair is simply faster early than the other speeds in this race, Coast Line and Rogue Agent, and though he has not raced since last October, his barn sports good numbers with horses coming off such layoffs.

Offlee Wild is the main danger off a near miss to Coast Line in the Campbell Handicap in his first start in eight months. But, with so many layoff lines in his past performances, Offlee Wild clearly has physical issues, and he could regress from his taxing Campbell effort.

Artax Handicap

Gygistar will be the favorite here, and deservedly so off a romp in his first start of the year. But I'm going to try to beat him with Christine's Outlaw.

Christine's Outlaw will be making his first start of the year. When he did so last year at Gulfstream, he scored by six and earned a 102 Beyer, which at that time was a career best. Christine's Outlaw also scored at Gulfstream in the first start of his career, winning by more than 11 lengths, so he clearly runs big off works. In addition, he is backed by the George Weaver barn, which has had a big Gulfstream meet, winning at a 28 percent clip.