12/21/2009 12:00AM

White's barn back in business


MIAMI - Trainer Bill White was happy to be back in action on Monday for the first time in three weeks. Restrictions were imposed on all three of his barns at Calder - and the Calder backstretch was placed under quarantine - after a horse from his stable contracted and ultimately died from a case of equine herpesvirus.

But as glad as he was to be able to run horses again, White was even happier that the ordeal was finally over and that the case of the contagious disease turned out to be an isolated incident.

"Obviously the consequences to not only myself but to racing throughout south Florida this winter could have been dire had one or more other horses in my barn or any other barn around here had contracted the disease," said White. "So in the overall picture, missing three weeks of racing or even a potential training title is nothing I'm going to lose sleep over."

White, a perennial Calder and Tropical training champion throughout the decade, won the 2009 Calder title in a runaway and was atop the standings for the Tropical meet when his barns were restricted on Nov. 30. White's horses were not allowed to run for three weeks or train with the general population.

White began Monday seven winners behind leader Kathleen O'Connell, but wasted little time making up ground. He sent out the 1-10 Power Rules to dominate the opener and 6-5 Smooth Valentine to capture the fourth race.

"Actually the time passed pretty quickly," said White. "Fortunately everybody handled the situation well, including not only my owners but everybody here at Calder as well. The way management made the track available after training for all the quarantined horses was a godsend. Obviously from my standpoint, with a stable of 42 horses, trying to get them all out to train in and hour and one-half each morning was difficult, but we got through it and at last it's finally over."

Quality fields for graded stakes

As expected, all three graded stakes on Saturday's 12-race program came up strong, topped by the Grade 2, $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap. Two-time defending champion Presious Passion will carry high weight of 123 pounds, one more than fellow Breeders' Cup runner-up Cloudy's Knight, in a field of 11 long-distance specialists who signed on for the 1 1/2-mile McKnight.

This One's for Phil returns to his Calder roots and will carry top weight of 120 pounds in the Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap, with Biker Boy and locals You and I Forever and Motovato among the key contenders.

Fourteen older fillies and mares were entered to go 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 Stage Door Betty.

Plans for Fly by Phil uncertain

O'Connell, who moved to the top of the trainer standings by sending out a pair of winner's on Sunday's card, had her top 2-year-old prospect Fly by Phil out over the turf on Monday morning. He worked five furlongs around the dogs and over a yielding course in 1:03.86 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:17.30.

O'Connell is undecided regarding Fly by Phil's next start, although she could consider the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day.

Lost Aptitude tops derby nominees

Nominations for the Tropical Park Derby are out, with Lost Aptitude topping the list for trainer Dale Romans. Lost Aptitude is coming off a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grand Canyon at Churchill Downs Nov. 28.

Other prominent names eligible for the race include Becky's Kitten, who finished a troubled ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Barbaro's baby brother Lentenor, and Zapster from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher.

* Trainer Nick Zito, who will send out Biker Boy in the Kenny Noe, unleashed a promising 2-year-old in Latigo Shore ($4.20), a son of Malibu Moon who dominated maiden special weight company in Monday's sixth race. Joe Bravo was aboard and just sitting chilly on the runaway winner coming to the wire.