03/25/2003 12:00AM

Alysweep leans to Illinois Derby over Wood


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Alysweep, who successfully stretched out his speed around two turns winning the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 16, is likely to make his next start in the $500,000 Illinois Derby on April 5, trainer Pat Reynolds said Tuesday.

Reynolds, who trains Alysweep for owners Michael Dubb and Mark Doneson, did not rule out running him in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 12, but mentioned several reasons why he likes the Illinois Derby better.

Reynolds noted that the Hawthorne track over which the Illinois Derby is run tends to favor speed horses. Alysweep won the Gotham, a mile-and-70-yard race, gate to wire over Aqueduct's inner track.

"A place like that could play into our hands with a speed horse," said Reynolds, who claimed Alysweep for $75,000 on Dec. 15.

Reynolds said that Alysweep came out of the Gotham so well that he "wouldn't hesitate" to run him back in three weeks.

Also, Reynolds likes the four-week break between the Illinois Derby and Kentucky Derby better than the three-week break between the Wood and the Derby. "I'd love to have a month before the Derby," he said.

On top of that, the Illinois Derby field does not appear to be coming up with a standout horse, whereas the Wood is expected to attract Empire Maker, impressive winner of the Florida Derby and current Kentucky Derby favorite.

Reynolds said he doesn't necessarily fear Empire Maker, but added that a tough race between the two before the Kentucky Derby wouldn't do either horse any good.

"Alysweep is not going to fold up like a mah-jongg table, he's the real deal," Reynolds said. "If somebody comes to him he'll give you that second and third effort. But you don't want to win one of these preps and squeeze the lemon dry."

Reynolds said he would work Alysweep at Belmont Park over the weekend before making a final decision about which race to run. If he decides to go in the Illinois Derby, Reynolds would ship Alysweep to Chicago five or six days before the race.

Roar Emotion points to Black-Eyed Susan

Roar Emotion, the beaten favorite in last Saturday's Cicada Stakes, will be pointed to the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 16, trainer Carlos Martin said.

Martin added that Roar Emotion would prep for the Black-Eyed Susan in the Comely Stakes on April 18 only if Storm Flag Flying, the defending 2-year-old filly champion, does not run. Trainer Shug McGaughey has targeted the Comely for Storm Flag Flying's return.

Martin said it is also possible he would train Roar Emotion up to the Black-Eyed Susan.

Martin said he wasn't displeased with Roar Emotion's second-place finish to Cyber Secret in the Cicada. In addition to making her first start since winning the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes on Nov. 30, Roar Emotion was also breaking from the rail in the Cicada, not the place to be going seven furlongs on Aqueduct's main track.

"She came out of the race absolutely super," Martin said. "It was definitely a good comeback race; she looks like a different horse, sharp and on her toes. The Black-Eyed Susan is definitely our main objective."

Martin admitted he didn't want to face Storm Flag Flying until the bigger races this summer.

Formal Attire undergoes myectomy

Formal Attire, who chased the pace before tiring to sixth in the Florida Derby, underwent a myectomy on March 18 to repair a breathing problem. Trainer Phil Serpe said the surgery went well, but added that he doesn't plan to run the colt again until the Belmont spring meet.

Serpe said that he believes Formal Attire displaced his palate approximately four furlongs from the wire in the Florida Derby. Formal Attire displaced his palate in his previous race as well, but Serpe had attributed that to the horse having to steady early in the race. In the Florida Derby, Serpe said jockey Eibar Coa could hear the horse making a noise.

Dr. Mark Cheney performed the operation, which helps stabilize the air passage by removing retraction muscles that pull on the larynx.

Though Formal Attire could have resumed training almost immediately, Serpe elected to give the colt about 10 days off. Formal Attire recently resumed training at Gulfstream and is expected to ship up to Serpe's Belmont barn by next weekend.

"Our main focus will be the summer stakes," Serpe said. "We want to back up a step and, hopefully, this procedure that was performed on him will solve the problem."

Literary Light loves Big A main track

Literary Light ran the two best races of her career over Aqueduct's main track last fall. Thursday, she returns to that surface in a third-level allowance race that serves as the feature on a nine-race card.

Claimed for $50,000 by trainer Richard Schosberg last September at Belmont, Literary Light won a high-priced claiming race and a second-level allowance by a combined 12 lengths over the main track and earned the two best Beyer Speed Figures of her career.

In two starts over the inner track, Literary Light finished second in an allowance race and seventh in the Correction Handicap after stumbling at the start. She shows a bullet half-mile work in 47 seconds on March 16.