01/06/2003 12:00AM

After a stint in Saudi Arabia, Albertrani back in N.Y. game


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A little more than three years after training champion sprinter Artax, and 14 months after taking what he thought was "a chance of a lifetime," Louis Albertrani is starting over again.

Albertrani, 45, has a four-horse stable based at Belmont Park, with a couple of claiming horses and a pair of New York-bred maiden 3-year-olds. Wise N Valid, a 3-year-old daughter of Valid Expectations, makes her second start for Albertrani in Wednesday's fourth race at Aqueduct, a maiden $50,000 claiming race.

In 1995, Albertrani began training for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable. In 1999, Albertrani guided Artax to a championship campaign that culminated with a Gulfstream Park track-record-equaling performance in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"It seems like yesterday," said Albertrani, the older brother of Tom Albertrani, a top assistant for Godolphin Racing Inc.

In November 2000, Albertrani quit Paragallo to open up a public stable helped by William Lickle, who by marriage is related to Delaware's wealthy Dupont family. A year into that project, Albertrani was offered the opportunity to train for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

"I thought that was a chance of a lifetime, something I wanted to do in my career to experience another country and see what it's all about," Albertrani said.

According to Albertrani, things were going well. He had a 125-horse stable - mostly allowance and handicap-type horses - and won 50 races in a seven-month period. But, with hostilities between the United States and Saudi Arabia escalating, Albertrani was dismissed as trainer.

"They said the way things are, it wouldn't look good for an American to be training our horses," Albertrani said. "They were happy with the job I did, but with what's going on in the world you could be at the wrong place at the wrong time. There were three car bombings when I left Riyadh. You don't want to get yourself caught up in any of that. I think they were most interested in my safety."

So, Albertrani returned to America last June. He hooked up with some former owners and claimed a couple of horses. He ran eight horses in the fall of 2002, but did not win a race.

"When you leave and when you want to get re-established again it's always difficult," Albertrani said Monday morning in his corner of Belmont's Barn 32. "But I think I have a good reputation in New York. I think I can get clients and get started once again."

Albertrani said he quit Paragallo was because he didn't want to train for just one person. But, he said, should someone want him to train privately, he now would think about it.

"I'd have to really consider it, think hard," Albertrani said. "It's something I wouldn't rule out now."

Right spot for Lethal Weapon?

Wednesday's nine-race card at Aqueduct features a pick six carryover of $35,997. Horseplayers alive going into the last leg will most likely be pinning their hopes on Lethal Weapon to win his first race in North America and end a nine-race losing streak.

Richard Dutrow Jr. seems to have found the right spot for Lethal Weapon in Wednesday's eighth, a $45,000 allowance for colts and geldings who have never won three races lifetime.

Formerly trained by Bobby Frankel, Lethal Weapon finished a clear second to Pop Rocks in a second-level allowance over a muddy inner track on Dec. 14. Before that, he finished second to a razor-sharp Heavyweight Champ on Nov. 3. The last two races have both come with blinkers. Lethal Weapon should get a good stalking trip from his outside post under apprentice John McKee.

Maryland invader Outathechute could be the one to catch. He was talented enough to win an allowance race at Keeneland in October off a 14-month layoff before finishing second behind the stakes-winning No Parole in a second-level allowance here on Nov. 17.

Prospect Kid is the other serious threat. He finished fourth in the aforementioned Dec. 14 allowance race, Prospect Kid's first start off a seven-month freshening. Richard Migliore, winning at a 20-percent clip at this meet, replaces McKee.

Arroyo to miss a month

Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. will miss a month because of an injury to the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. Arroyo hurt the shoulder in the last race on Dec. 30.

Arroyo was named to ride last Wednesday through Friday, but took off each day. The problem showed up on an MRI last Thursday, and Arroyo will begin rehabilitation shortly. John Kolb, Arroyo's agent, is shooting for an early February return.

"He has a lot of inflammation in that area," Kolb said. "They feel he's a good candidate for rehab and not surgery. He's going to be out a month. Hopefully, he'll come back strong from that."

Arroyo, the runner-up for the 2000 Eclipse as the nation's top apprentice, had a record of 8-8-7 from 67 mounts since the opening of the inner track on Dec. 4.