07/01/2001 11:00PM

Affirmed Success playing Poker again


ELMONT, N.Y. - A severe storm tore a fence down and knocked the power out at trainer Richard Schosberg's Long Island home Sunday. Schosberg hopes his 7-year-old gelding, Affirmed Success, has the same affect on six rivals in Wednesday's $100,000 Poker Handicap at Belmont Park.

Affirmed Success won the Poker, a Grade 3 one-mile race, last year in his first start on turf after a distinguished dirt career. He ran five times on turf, posting a 2-1-1 record. In his only out-of-the-money finish on grass, Affirmed Success ran fourth, beaten a half-length in the Breeders' Cup Mile, a race Schosberg is once again targeting this fall.

The Poker will be the first start on turf for Affirmed Success since the Breeders' Cup, as his 2001 debut in the Jaipur was rained off the grass to the main track. In that race, Affirmed Success won a stirring duel with Texas Glitter to take the seven-furlong Jaipur by one length.

"I was worried at first that it might have been too much," Schosberg said. "But it moved him forward in his training. It takes him less time to warm up in his gallops and his last few breezes have been excellent. I think we're coming into it in pretty darn good shape."

Affirmed Success, the highweight at 121 pounds, looms the main speed in the Poker under Jerry Bailey against a field of intriguing challengers.

Trainer Bobby Frankel sends out Blu Air Force, who is coming off a superb effort in a 5 1/2-furlong money allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 6. In that race, Blu Air Force rallied in the final jump to nip Swept Overboard, who came back to romp in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap. Blu Air Force, who gets the services of leading rider John Velazquez, has yet to win beyond seven furlongs.

Bill Mott saddles the uncoupled entry of Western Summer and In Frank's Honor, both of whom are in good form. Western Summer won two allowance races before falling a neck short in the Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap at Monmouth. He gets seven pounds from Affirmed Success. So does In Frank's Honor, who comes off a powerful allowance win, running a mile in 1:32.87 at Belmont.

The New York-bred Union One had a useful prep in a seven-furlong dirt race here Belmont Stakes Day. He returns to turf, where he has won twice and finished fourth in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap. Richard Migliore rides.

Hero's Tribute in Dwyer drill

Hero's Tribute, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes, worked six furlongs in 1:14.09 Monday morning at Belmont in preparation for Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes. Hero's Tribute worked without the blinkers he wore in the Peter Pan because, trainer John Ward said, he "didn't want him to overdo it." Hero's Tribute will wear the blinkers in the race.

Hero's Tribute also wore a bar shoe in the Peter Pan but has been training in plain flat shoes the last couple of weeks and, barring anything unforeseen, will wear flat shoes on Sunday. The bar shoe was to protect a quarter crack that surfaced when Hero's Tribute finished last in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Ward is using the Dwyer as a prep for the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 5 at Monmouth Park, he said. If Point Given runs in the Haskell, the purse is expected to be $1.5 million.

"This is like how I used the Wood for the Derby," Ward said, referring to Monarchos, who finished second in the Wood Memorial before winning the Kentucky Derby. "I don't want to lay him out."

Others pointing to the Dwyer are E Dubai, Griffinite, Regal Shivers, This Fleet Is Due, and possibly Dayton Flyer, Windsor Castle, and I Love Silver.

Beautiful Pleasure gallops

Beautiful Pleasure, who finished last in the Hempstead Handicap on June 23, had a strong 1 3/8-mile gallop Monday. She was credited with a five-furlong workout in 1:03.33 by the clockers. She was out several paths from the rail on a track assistant trainer Donna Ward said was uneven due to heavy showers the previous day.

Beautiful Pleasure may make her next start in either the Delaware Handicap on July 22 or the Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 29.

* John Ward said that Forest Secrets, the Acorn winner who finished fourth in Saturday's Mother Goose Stakes, came out of the race in good order and will be pointed to the $750,000 Alabama on Aug. 18 at Saratoga.

McGaughey snaps 0-fer

Trainer Shug McGaughey's New York drought came to an end Sunday when Cat Cay rallied resolutely down the stretch to nip Imadeed by a head in a six-furlong money allowance race. It broke McGaughey's 0-for-32 skid at the Belmont spring/summer meet and his 0-for-33 drought overall in New York. It was McGaughey's first victory in New York since Amelia won a maiden turf race at Aqueduct on May 5.

"It ain't no fun when you're not winning," McGaughey said. "I was glad to see her run good."

The day wasn't totally enjoyable for McGaughey. Later, he watched Traditionally finish last in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap. It was his second consecutive poor race since winning the Grade 1 Oaklawn Park Handicap.

Traditionally has a history of running down behind when racing over Belmont's dirt track, and McGaughey said the colt pounded his right hind heel in the Suburban.

"He just doesn't run over this track," McGaughey said. "He won't get a chance anymore, either."

McGaughey said he would think about the $350,000 Iselin, at Monmouth Park on Aug. 26 as the next spot for Traditionally.

* Another long losing streak ended Sunday when Trucking Baron won the fourth race. It broke a 0-for-26 streak, dating back to July 11, 1999.