02/07/2005 12:00AM

White hasn't lost faith in High Fly

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High Fly (left), third behind Closing Argument (2) and Kansas City Boy in the Holy Bull, is still being pointed to the Florida Derby. He may not have another prep race before then.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Bill White wasn't overly concerned when High Fly drew the outside post for last Saturday's . After all, it appeared the undefeated 3-year-old High Fly had enough speed to overcome the position. But less than a quarter-mile into the race, after High Fly and jockey Eddie Castro got hung out very wide around the opening turn, White realized his horse was in trouble.

"We tried to compensate for the outside post by sending him, anticipating that there wasn't a lot of speed in the field and that he would be able to get good position," said White. "But by the time they got to the race it was apparent speed was a major player for the day, and as a result it seemed the inside horses were all ridden hard from the gate to maintain their position and we wound up five or six wide into the turn."

The odds-on favorite, High Fly wound up contesting the pace while wide the entire race. Turning for home it still appeared he had a chance to win, but the testing trip took its toll as High Fly faded to finish third behind the rail-skimming winner, Closing Argument, and the runner-up, Kansas City Boy.

"I thought under the circumstances my horse laid it all on the line, but it was just too much to ask of him to overcome that kind of trip," said White. "I still thought he would be second in deep stretch when he shied from the right-hand stick, ducked in, and kind of lost his momentum. He ran a big race but, unfortunately, because he was undefeated and untested coming into the race, expectations were very high and anything less than a win was disappointing to everybody."

White said High Fly came out of the Holy Bull in good order but he has yet to make plans for the colt's next start.

"Our goal remains the Florida Derby but the dilemma remains whether to train him into the race over the next 60 days or risk running again somewhere in between," said White. "Right now, any decision regarding his next start remains up in the air until I have a chance to talk things over with the owner."

High Fly is owned by the Live Oak Plantation.

Closing Argument's agenda uncertain

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Closing Argument also came out of the Holy Bull well, and like White remains undecided where his improving colt would run next.

"Naturally we're considering all the Triple Crown preps, including of course the Fountain of Youth here next month," said McLaughlin.

The $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai also remains an option.

"It's an interesting thought because of the big purse, but it would be extremely difficult to go there and then try to come back for the Kentucky Derby," McLaughlin said.

Defer still on target for Fountain

Trainer Shug McGaughey was a bit more certain about the upcoming itinerary for his two promising 3-year-olds Defer and Survivalist, both of whom also ran here Saturday. Defer finished fourth behind Proud Accolade in the , while Survivalist was placed second after being interfered with through the stretch in a first-level allowance race earlier on the card.

"I was a little disappointed in Defer's performance, although I thought he tried to chase more than he wants to during the early part of the race," said McGaughey. "As long as he's doing well he'll go as scheduled in the Fountain of Youth.

"I was pleased with Survivalist's race. The ground broke away from him at the start and I thought he had a chance to win before all the mess in the stretch. I'll probably look to run him back at a mile."

Trainer Todd Pletcher said the Fountain of Youth is also a strong possibility for both Proud Accolade and Bandini following their impressive victories on Saturday. Proud Accolade overcame a slow start and early traffic trouble to post a convincing win in the Hutcheson, while Bandini was an easy winner of a first-level allowance race around two turns.

"We'll consider the Fountain of Youth and Louisiana Derby for both Proud Accolade and Bandini, even though stretching Proud Accolade out to a mile and one-eighth in the Fountain of Youth is not something I really want to do," said Pletcher. "In fact, I'll probably enter both in the Fountain of Youth in case one or both should draw an outside post since it's such a big disadvantage in mile and one-eighth races here this year. That would still leave us the option of scratching and going to Louisiana the following week."

Pletcher also reported that Forest Danger, whom he scratched from Saturday's Deputy Minister Handicap, will likely make his next start in the General George Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 21.

"He's fine," said Pletcher. "I just decided to take him out on Saturday because he was drawn inside and I thought there was some risk involved of getting into a speed duel with Medallist, and that's something I wanted to avoid in his first start back from a long layoff."

Carter long-range goal for Medallist

Medallist came out of his race none the worse for wear, according to trainer Allen Jerkens. Medallist edged off to a 1 3/4-length victory despite drifting out badly through the stretch of the 6 1/2-furlong .

"I'm not sure what causes him to drift like that in some of his races," said Jerkens. "He didn't do it in his last start at Calder. There must be something there but I can't find what it is."

Jerkens said he's uncertain what will be next for Medallist. He said Aqueduct's Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 9 is Medallist's main goal this spring.

Three possibilities for two stakes

McLaughlin could also have a major say in Saturday's co-features, the $100,000 Appleton and Suwannee River handicaps.

McLaughlin will send out defending champion Millennium Dragon in the Appleton and has the option of choosing between Binya and Secret Heart for the Suwannee River. Millennium Dragon worked a half-mile in 49.60 seconds over the Palm Meadows turf course on Monday, while Secret Heart breezed the same distance in 48.80 on the grass.

Millennium Dragon has not won a race since his gate-to-wire 1 1/4-length decision over Political Attack in the 2004 Appleton. He was a late-running second behind Mr O'Brien in the Grade 2 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap on Oct. 9.

"There really wasn't anywhere to run after the Kelso so I gave him a break, but he's been doing very well," said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said Richard Migliore would be down from New York to ride Millennium Dragon in the one-mile Appleton.

* Ghostzapper had his second official work since returning to serious training at Palm Meadows, breezing a half-mile in 49 over the main track on Monday.