08/22/2006 12:00AM

Albertrani looks to a big weekend

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In his final workout for the Travers, Bernardini goes five furlongs over Saratoga's main track Tuesday morning with Simon Harris riding.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Albertrani has not won a race since Bernardini's tour-de-force victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, but he still has reasons to smile.

One reason is that he's getting ready to run Bernardini again in Saturday's $1 million Travers at Saratoga. On Tuesday, Bernardini completed his preparations for this meet's showcase event by working five furlongs in 1:02.12 over Saratoga's main track.

With exercise rider Simon Harris aboard, Bernardini went in fractions of 13.08 seconds, 25.91, 38.00, and 50.12 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.36. He pulled up seven furlongs in 1:28.39. It was his third and final move in between his nine-length Jim Dandy score and the Travers.

"It looked like he worked really good this morning, looked like he was just galloping down the lane,'' said Albertrani, who moved the work up from Wednesday to beat potential wet weather.

Albertrani said he has not gotten discouraged by his recent 0-for-19 skid that includes 15 straight losses at Saratoga, two at Monmouth Park, one at Delaware, and one at Philadelphia Park. He has had four seconds and three thirds during that period.

"The horses have been running well, we've been close, but hopefully we'll have a big weekend," Albertrani said.

In addition to running Bernardini in the Travers on Saturday, Albertrani also plans to start Songster in the Grade 1 King's Bishop the same day. On Friday, Albertrani will be well represented in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign with Balletto.

Jerkens seeks to snap skid in stakes

Jimmy Jerkens is another trainer who has slumped lately. Since winning the final race at Belmont on June 21, Jerkens is winless with the last 35 horses he has sent out, including going 0 for 14 at Saratoga.

"Beyond frustrating," Jerkens said. "Debilitating and crippling. If you can't win with Corinthian and Artie [Schiller], you feel like none of them could win."

Lemon Drop Gal could possibly win Thursday's $70,000 Grab the Green Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs. After winning a first-level allowance race on June 11, Lemon Drop Gal was bothered three times by Gilded Gold in the stretch run of the Elizabeth Bay Stakes at Belmont. She finished third but was placed second when the stewards disqualified Gilded Gold.

"She lost momentum," Jerkens said of the stretch run of the Elizabeth Bay. "I don't know if it cost her the win or not."

The horses to beat in the race are Parisian Affair and Saorise Cat.

Mach Ride to be rated in King's Bishop

In and of itself, Mach Ride's second-place finish last month behind odds-on favorite Too Much Bling in Calder's Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes was a huge effort. The fact that Mach Ride, a former claimer, did so after setting a contested pace along a deep rail over a track that yielded only a single wire-to-wire winner made the performance good enough for trainer Steve Standridge to ship his colt to Saratoga for Saturday's Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes.

"We know this is an ambitious spot," said Standridge who has never started a horse at Saratoga. "But Too Much Bling would likely have been second or third choice if he ran in this race, and he only beat us two lengths despite the fact our horse ran against the grain of both a speed and rail bias."

Mach Ride blew out three furlongs in 34.35 seconds and galloped out a half-mile in 46.54 under jockey Javier Castellano here Tuesday. Castellano will be aboard Mach Ride for the first time in the King's Bishop.

"It was a little quicker than I'd have liked, but he did it real easy," said Standridge of the work. "Basically I wanted to give Javier a chance to get a feel of him and for him to get a feel for the racetrack. He just got a little better feel than I wanted."

Standridge is hoping Castellano will be able to take Mach Ride off what he expects to be a very fast pace with Henny Hughes and Songster in the lineup.

"He's been good to rate in all his races except for last time," said Standridge. "All I know was that after watching the early races that day, the plan was to let the speed go and come around horses."

Like Standridge, Rick Violette was also cognizant of the track bias before the Carry Back and gave similar instructions for jockey David Flores to take Laptop Computer off the lead. He then watched in disbelief as his horse wound up going head to head with Mach Ride before finishing fourth. Laptop Computer will get another chance in the King's Bishop, this time with Garrett Gomez aboard.

"I didn't want him to be any part of the pace at Calder and he wound up making it," said Violette. "He won't be on Saturday. There's a ton of speed in the King's Bishop, and the race should set up well for him."

The King's Bishop lineup should also include Court Folly, Star Dabbler, and Quietly Go.

Trainer Bob Baffert said he had originally planned to send Derby Trial winner Record for the King's Bishop but made a last-minute switch to Quietly Go.

"Quietly Go looked like the better of the pair when they worked the other day, so I decided to take a shot," said Baffert.

Baffert also nominated Too Much Bling to the King's Bishop.

"I was going to send Too Much Bling, but that track is just too inconsistent," said Baffert. "I've never been a big fan of the Saratoga surface. I plan to find one more race for him before the Breeders' Cup, although at the moment I'm not sure what that race is."

Circular Quay, Spun Sugar in fast drills

Sitting atop his stable pony near the finish line watching stakes winners Circular Quay and Spun Sugar breeze in company Tuesday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher took off his baseball cap and began to wave it. It was his way of trying to get his riders to slow down.

Neither one saw it as Circular Quay, with Angel Cordero Jr. up, and Spun Sugar drilled four furlongs in 47.12 seconds. They were easily the fastest half-mile drills of the morning. The early fractions were 11.79, 22.92, and 34.73 seconds.

Circular Quay, the Bashford Manor winner, is pointing to the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 4, while Spun Sugar, the Go for Wand winner, is aiming at the Spinster on Oct. 8.

"He came back fine, didn't blow hard," Pletcher said of Circular Quay. "He's a little bit of a lazy horse. If you don't put him into the bridle, he goes too slow. Today we got him into the bridle a little too much the first part."

Before those two worked, Scat Daddy breezed five furlongs in 1:00.72 and then galloped out very strongly under Cordero. Scat Daddy, the Sanford winner, is also pointing to the Hopeful.

He does things effortlessly," Pletcher said.

Dubai Escapade works for Ballerina

Dubai Escapade is looking to rebound from a poor effort at Calder on Summit of Speed day, when she finished a tiring sixth as the 1-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap. The loss was the first in five U.S. starts for Dubai Escapade, a younger half-sister of Madcap Escapade. Dubai Escapade worked five furlongs in 59 seconds here Tuesday in preparation for Sunday's Grade 1 Ballerina.

"I was very pleased with the work, and we're just hoping we can pitch that last race right out," said trainer Eoin Harty. "We found no physical problems after her last start but backed off her considerably, and she's doing very well now."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch