03/11/2004 12:00AM

Zito 'sticks to game plan'


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It has been a while since the Swale Stakes has had an impact on the Triple Crown series. Nick Zito hopes to change that this year.

Zito will have one eye on Kentucky and another on south Florida when he saddles Eurosilver in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Swale, a seven-furlong race that highlights the undercard on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream Park.

, the Spectacular Bid winner who finished a troubled fourth in the Hutcheson. Saratoga County, Dashboard Drummer, and Caiman complete the field.

Eurosilver established himself as a Kentucky Derby contender when he scored a visually impressive 4 3/4-length victory in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October. After getting time off to take care of a shin problem, Eurosilver made a sharp 3-year-old debut, winning a second-level allowance race by five lengths here Feb. 4.

Zito, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, surprised some by keeping Eurosilver at seven furlongs in the Swale, but Zito says that has been the plan since November. Zito wants the Swale to set Eurosilver up for the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 10.

"I'm anxious to get to [Keeneland], where he won in October, and I'm sticking to the game plan," Zito said. "I know a lot of people are concerned with the one-turn race, but they used to do this years ago. It's not such a big thing."

Zito said a win in the Swale is not imperative.

"The ideal scenario, besides winning, would just be a great race," said Zito, whose horse drew the outside post. "I know [Chapel Royal] will be tough. This horse, in my opinion, is really going to thrive when he gets to Kentucky."

Todd Pletcher doesn't believe Chapel Royal is necessarily a Derby horse. But Chapel Royal ran some brilliant one-turn races last summer, winning the Flash and Sanford. He also finished second in the Hopeful and Champagne and ran third after a poor start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Pletcher came to south Florida with the idea of starting Chapel Royal off in the Swale and will decide where to go from there.

Pletcher has already demonstrated his prowess for getting horses ready off extended layoffs at this meet by winning with Lion Tamer and Strong Hope.

From a betting standpoint, Wynn Dot Comma may be the value. He had to rally very wide and use a strong kick to win the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid here Jan. 10. Wynn Dot Comma got stopped twice when fourth to Limehouse in the Hutcheson.

Trainer Marty Wolfson plans to have new rider Edgar Prado put Wynn Dot Comma right into the race Saturday.

Saratoga County encountered even more trouble than Wynn Dot Comma when third in the Hutcheson. His connections paid $1,500 to enter and look at the field, but could scratch and run in next week's Gotham at Aqueduct.

With Jerry Bailey available to ride in the Swale, however, Saratoga County could stay here.

Dashboard Drummer, the Grade 3 Sapling winner, and Caiman complete the field.