HALLANDALE, FLA., FEB. 2 -- Fly So Free's victory in the $92,455 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park was really nothing compared to what trainer Scotty Schulhofer thinks the 3-year-old colt can do.

"The {Kentucky} Derby is our big objective and you want to get there in stages. You don't want to do too much too soon," Schulhofer said after Fly So Free beat previously unbeaten To Freedom by a length today, finishing seven furlongs in 1:23 1/5.

Upcoming stages leading to the first Saturday in May could be the

1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth on Feb. 23 or the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 16.

"If they were ever going to beat him, it would have been today. He hadn't run in a long time and he wasn't really tight. I'm aiming to have him really tight for the Derby," Schulhofer said.

Coming from eighth at the quarter pole, Fly So Free surged between horses to run down To Freedom. Sunny and Pleasant, a 77-1 shot, closed for third, a nose behind To Freedom and a neck in front of Moment of True.

Fly So Free, who won the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, is an overwhelming favorite to be named 2-year-old champion of 1991 when the Eclipse Awards are announced next Saturday in San Francisco. The Hutcheson was Fly So Free's first start in three months.

The Kentucky-bred son of Time for a Change was ridden by Jose Santos, who has won all four of his races on the horse. Fly So Free was the even-money choice and paid $4.20.

To Freedom, the 2-1 second choice, rushed to the front soon after the start but a four-horse speed duel developed down in the backstretch. Woodsy was on the rail, and Last Frontier and Richman joined To Freedom in front. They were heads apart at the half-mile pole.

Fly So Free was fifth at the five-eighths pole, dropped to eighth going into the far turn and was still eighth on the inside and looking for racing room when he passed the quarter pole.

To Freedom got the lead with 3/16ths to go, with Last Frontier second and Woodsy just behind. Sunny and Pleasant was fifth. To Freedom opened 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole but Fly So Free, moving between horses, was surging.

Santos hit him once at the eighth pole and again at the sixteenth, enough to drive Fly So Free by To Freedom on the inside with 60 yards to go. To Freedom just lasted for second.