01/26/2008 12:00AM

War Pass breeze impresses Zito


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A week after having a scheduled work canceled due to a minor case of colic, Eclipse Award winner War Pass got back on track breezing a half-mile in 48.61 seconds at Palm Meadows on Saturday.

Looking like a picture of health, War Pass came out on the track shortly after dawn under regular exercise rider Maxine Correa.

"What a difference a week makes," enthused trainer Nick Zito as War Pass stood in front of the clockers stand before breaking off to work. "Look at him. He's cut like a chisel. He is a great athlete."

Breaking off at the three-eighths pole midway on the turn, War Pass went in splits of 12.70 and 24.13 seconds, then crossed the finish line in 36.70 before completing his work around the turn at the one-mile pole.

"The big horse impressed me," Zito said as War Pass finished pulling up. "He was just galloping and went in 48 and change. Hopefully we'll be able to give him three more works. It would have been nice to have worked him last week, but I think we'll be fine. I'm old school and not worried about it. I just have to get him ready and I know how to get him ready."

Zito said he'd like to find a race for the undefeated War Pass going a mile at Gulfstream sometime during the third week of February, and spoke with racing secretary Bill Couch about it.

"I've talked to Bill about a race just before the Fountain of Youth [Feb. 24], and he's been real cooperative," said Zito. "It would mean we'll have to come back a little quick for the next one, but right now I'm happy with the scheduling."

Moments before War Pass worked, Zito looked on as another of his 3-year-olds, Coal Play, blistered a half-mile over the Palm Meadows strip in 46.46, including a second eighth of a mile split in 11.05 that elicited oohs and aahs from the track clockers. Coal Play, runner-up in Calder's What a Pleasure Stakes in his 2-year-old finale, is coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes over a sloppy track here on Jan. 5.

"He worked a little too fast this morning but he's a heck of a work horse," said Zito. "I'll just throw out that last race. He didn't like the track. I'm not sure when he'll run next. I might take a condition race."

Cool Coal Man wins season debut

As good a morning as Zito had, things got even better for the Hall of Fame trainer in the afternoon when Cool Coal Man made a successful 3-year-old debut, winning a second-level allowance race by a length over a stubborn Golden Spikes.

The win helped erase the memory of Cool Coal Man's last-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November. In that race Cool Coal Man was a bit rank. Saturday, Cool Coal Man relaxed behind horses early on, before tipping three wide at the quarter pole under John Velazquez and wearing down Golden Spikes. Legacy Thief finished third, but was vanned off after the race.

Track veterinarian Dr. Mary Scollay said Legacy Thief was lame in his left front leg after finishing and was vanned off to avoid possible further injury.

Cool Coal Man, a son of Mineshaft owned by Robert LaPenta - the owner of 2-year-old champion War Pass as well - covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.02 and returned $5 as the favorite.

Cool Coal Man could come back in the Fountain of Youth, a race Zito also has in mind for Kentucky Jockey Club winner Anak Nakal.

"You can't have enough," said Zito, who three years ago ran five horses in the Kentucky Derby. "You have to deliver no matter what. We hope we have as many, but we still got to deliver. We'll see what happens. Hopefully, we get there again to the Kentucky Derby."

Daaher, Brass Hat set for Donn

Daaher, the Cigar Mile winner, completed preparations for next Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Donn Handicap by working four furlongs in 48.16 seconds Saturday morning at Palm Meadows. It was the second fastest of 40 breezes at the distance.

"He's ready to go," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Daaher, who has won three consecutive races since McLaughlin added blinkers to his equipment last summer, will likely be the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Donn.

As of Saturday, there were five other horses considered definite for the Donn including Einstein, Brass Hat, A.P. Arrow, Fairbanks, and Actin Good.

On Saturday, Brass Hat worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 under exercise rider Penny Gardiner at Gulfstream Park. Brass Hat won the 2006 Donn Handicap.

"I'm glad we got this work in because he's coming off the Polytrack up there," said trainer Buff Bradley, who has had the horse at Turfway Park. "He works good over Polytrack, but I like to get him a chance to get his feet on the dirt again. He likes this track and he worked well."

Dance Away Capote tries longer

Dance Away Capote has had success in stakes at a mile and 1 1/16 miles, but now trainer Barclay Tagg will see just how far his 6-year-old gray mare can go.

Tagg is pointing Dance Away Capote to next Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap next Sunday at 1 1/8 miles.

"We want to try to try stretch her out a little, we'd like to go long, run here at a mile and an eighth, then we'll stretch her out a mile and three-eighths," said assistant trainer Robin Smullen, referring to a possible start in the The Very One Handicap at 11 furlongs on March 8. "She never gets tired in any of her races."

Dance Away Capote won the Grade 3 Noble Damsel at a mile last fall at Belmont. After that she finished third behind Criminologist in the Athenia at Aqueduct and then fifth of six in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park.

On Friday, Dance Away Capote worked five furlongs in 1:01.40.

- additional reporting by David Grening