02/09/2004 1:00AM

Zawzooth lands in soft spot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Go ahead and just try to say the name Zawzooth five times, real fast. It's impossible. So too was the task Zawzooth faced in her last two starts in New York, when she ran into the outstanding female sprinter Randaroo in the First Flight and Top Flight handicaps.

failed to win each time, but that's nothing to be embarrassed about, considering that Zawzooth's more accomplished stablemate, Harmony Lodge, could not deal with Randaroo herself last Sunday at Gulfstream Park in the Shirley Jones Handicap.

Zawzooth has a far easier task on Wednesday, when she returns from a 2 1/2-month layoff in Gulfstream's featured eighth race. She is dropping from a graded stakes into a money allowance, one that came up decidedly light for the level. Considering the pace at which her trainer, Todd Pletcher, has been clicking at Gulfstream this meet, and the significant drop in class, Zawzooth is a deserving favorite in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint.

In the First Flight, Zawzooth rallied to finish third, behind Randaroo and the multiple graded stakes winner Shine Again. In the Top Flight on Nov. 28, Zawzooth finished sixth after a rough trip.

"She had no chance in the Top Flight," Pletcher said. "She broke in a tangle, then clipped heels. You could have pulled her up at that point, because she had no chance. She stayed on pretty well despite that."

Pletcher said he thought 5 1/2 furlongs might be a bit short for Zawzooth, but he wanted to get a race into her now in order to have Zawzooth at her best for this track's 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie Handicap on March 7.

"If I waited for a longer race in the next condition book, there's no chance she could go in the Hurricane Bertie," Pletcher said.

and Holy Bubbette also have faced the East's best female sprinters in recent weeks and should benefit by a drop in class.

Both exit the six-furlong First Lady Handicap here on Jan. 11, in which Follow Me Home and Holy Bubbette dueled through swift fractions before fading to finish eighth and last, respectively, in the nine-horse field. Harmony Lodge won the First Lady, then came back to run second to Randaroo in the Shirley Jones on Sunday.

The shorter distance of Wednesday's feature suits their style, but if Follow Me Home and Holy Bubbette engage in another pace duel, they could set up the race for Zawzooth, who figures to be in a perfect stalking position.