01/31/2008 1:00AM

Wincat seeks to build on debut win

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainers weren't exactly beating down the doors of the racing office to run in Saturday's $150,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. But one horseman who has had the Grade 2 dash in his sights for a while is Kiaran McLaughlin, who will send out the undefeated Wincat as the likely favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong fixture for 3-year-olds.

A field of only seven was entered for the Swale, although Coal Play was cross-entered in a first-level allowance event later on the card.

Wincat won his only start, leading throughout en route to a 6 3/4-length maiden special weight win at Philadelphia Park on Dec. 28.

"He's a very talented horse and is doing great coming into this race," McLaughlin said. "We didn't take him to Philadelphia for his first start because we thought he wasn't good enough to win in New York. We brought him there because he's a Pennsylvania-bred and was eligible for a 40 percent bonus if he won an open race there."

Although Wincat, a gelded son of Hold That Tiger, won on the lead, McLaughlin said he doesn't necessarily have to be in front Saturday.

"He's ratable, that's no problem if somebody else wants the lead," McLaughlin said. "But he's pretty fast himself, and although he's the least experienced member of the field, he does everything right and should run a big race."

John Velazquez will be aboard Wincat, who breaks from post 6.

Silver Edition had not been pointing for the Swale, but trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided to call a bit of an audible when learning that the race was coming up a short field earlier this week.

"I was planning on working him six furlongs Sunday, so why not run him in here Saturday if we're going to be one of the favorites," Lukas reasoned.

Silver Edition is coming off a second-place finish behind Smooth Air over a sloppy track in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes on Jan. 5.

Coal Play stopped badly in the Hutcheson, a performance trainer Nick Zito is discounting because of the wet track. A son of Mineshaft, Coal Play has since returned to post a bullet 46-second half-mile work at Palm Meadows on Jan. 26 and figures to be a major player if Zito opts to bypass the allowance race and run him in the Swale.

Eaton's Gift is one of only three multiple winners in the lineup, having captured his maiden and entry-level allowance conditions in Kentucky at 2 before concluding his campaign finishing seventh after contesting the pace in Hollywood Park's Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.