01/28/2005 12:00AM

Weight will determine Eddington's next start

Eddington and Eibar Coa come back muddy after a victory here Jan. 16.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Mark Hennig will play the weighting game before deciding whether Eddington will make his next start here in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap or the following week at Santa Anita in the Strub.

"I'll wait and see where we're at with the weights and then make a decision," Hennig said shortly after watching Eddington work five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on Friday morning. "It would be nice to stay here and run the horse over this track, but I think he deserves a decent break from Roses in May and Saint Liam. If not, the alternative would be to take him to California for the Strub."

Eddington comes off one of the best performances of his career, when he rallied to an 8 3/4-length victory over third-level optional claiming and allowance rivals here Jan. 16. The start was his first since he captured the Grade 3 Calder Derby in his turf debut on Oct. 23.

Eddington has never lost a race in south Florida, having also won his maiden and a first-level allowance race here last winter. A son of Unbridled, Eddington hit the board in three Grade 1 races, including the Preakness and Travers, in 2004.

"Even though he had a very good 3-year-old season, he has never won a graded race on dirt and has never even run in a stakes race against older horses," Hennig said. "So hopefully he'll be weighted accordingly for the Donn."

Eddington is one of 16 horses nominated to the 1 1/8-mile Donn, which highlights a Feb. 5 card that also includes the Holy Bull and Hutcheson stakes for 3-year-olds, the Old Hat for 3-year-old fillies, and the Deputy Minister and Davona Dale handicaps for older horses. The Hutcheson and Davona Dale are both Grade 2 races, while the others are Grade 3 events.

Saint Liam avoids Ghostzapper

One trainer who has been pointing for the Donn for quite some time is Richard Dutrow Jr., who will send out Saint Liam as the second choice behind likely favorite Roses in May.

"I've been looking at the Donn since we won the Clark," said Dutrow. "As soon as I heard Ghostzapper wasn't pointing for the race."

Saint Liam has won 3 of 6 starts, including the Grade 2 Clark Handicap on Nov. 26, since moving into Dutrow's barn near the end of his 2003 campaign. He was second, beaten a neck by Ghostzapper, in the Grade 1 Woodward.

"I'm really happy with him - he couldn't be training any better," said Dutrow. "This is a big race for us, and we're putting everything we have into it, because he's going to have to step up big time to beat a horse like Roses in May. I'll even bring him down here on [Wednesday] to breeze an easy half-mile, to give him a look at the place and see what's happening turning for home.

"He's a funny horse," Dutrow added. "Sometimes his mind strays, which is why I put blinkers on him for the Clark. Although, to be honest, I can't say if they helped or not, because that was a race I thought he should win regardless."

Donn field looks small but solid

A small field is likely for the Donn. Along with Saint Liam, Roses in May, and Eddington, the other potential candidates include Contante, Pies Prospect, and Seek Gold. Trainer Todd Pletcher has both Purge and Pollard's Vision nominated to the race but said it was unlikely either would start.

Pies Prospect and Seek Gold also worked five furlongs at Gulfstream on Friday. Pies Prospect went in a leisurely 1:03, while Seek Gold covered the distance in 1:01.80.

Among the surprise nominees to the Donn is Good Reward, who closed out his 3-year-old campaign with a half-length victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby over the turf.

"I nominated Good Reward for the Donn just to cover my bases in case the race completely fell apart," said trainer Shug McGaughey. "But I am planning to run him next in the Strub. I've had some experience running turf horses over the hard main tracks in California, and they've taken to it quite well, although I firmly believe this horse is better on turf than dirt and he'll go back on the grass after the Strub."

McGaughey also confirmed that his two top 3-year-old prospects, Defer and Survivalist, are both scheduled to run on the Donn undercard. Defer remains on target for the Hutcheson, while Survivalist goes in an allowance race.

Ghostzapper has first work since BC

Ghostzapper, the reigning Horse of the Year, had his first official workout since winning the Breeders' Cup Classic. He breezed a half-mile in 49.60 seconds under regular rider Javier Castellano at Palm Meadows on Friday.

"He feels so nice and did it so easily," said Castellano, "like a horse who's been working right along, and not a horse who hasn't had a serious work in several months."

Ghostzapper is not expected to launch his 2005 campaign until the spring.

Passing Shot to be bred to Storm Cat

Grade 1 winner Passing Shot has been retired and will be bred this season to Storm Cat, according to trainer Allen Jerkens. Passing Shot, a daughter of A.P. Indy, captured the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap in 2003 but was able to win just one more race in 10 subsequent starts. Her career was ended after she finished sixth in Sunday's Banshee Breeze Handicap.

"She just never got going again after bruising her foot last year," said Jerkens.

Tucked Away okay after running off

Tucked Away, one of the California invaders for Saturday's Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, received special permission to gallop over the turf course on Friday, but instead wound up having a bit of an adventure after losing her rider and running loose several times around the track.

"She ducked from the pony," said exercise rider Mickey Brennan. "She just kind of loped around there before they caught her, but she was none the worse for wear. She wasn't even sweating. We even took her to the paddock to school her once she came off the track."

Brennan said Tucked Away would start as scheduled in the Filly and Mare Turf.