12/02/2003 1:00AM

Badge of Silver looking like old self


NEW ORLEANS - Still uprooted Monday morning by his move from Churchill Downs to Fair Grounds, Ronny Werner couldn't even find a pair of his trademark jeans to wear to work, but he pulled things together, donned some khaki-esque pants, and made it to the racetrack to watch his stable star, Badge of Silver, work three furlongs. And from all appearances, this is the same Badge of Silver who burst onto the Kentucky Derby trail last season with brilliant wins in an allowance sprint and the Risen Star Stakes.

The workout was Badge of Silver's first since he returned to training Oct. 7 at Churchill, fully recovered from a fractured right cannon bone that took him out of training last April. Badge of Silver shipped to Fair Grounds on Oct. 26 and has galloped steadily since then, and Tuesday he was allowed to run a bit for the first time. Badge of Silver was under stout restraint from an exercise rider as he was timed in 37.60 seconds, but it was his gallop-out after the work that amazed Werner.

Fair Grounds clockers, Werner said, timed Badge of Silver galloping out in 48 seconds and change for four furlongs, 1:02 and change for five furlongs, and just over 1:15 for six furlongs, unusually swift times for a horse going an easy three-eighths of a mile.

"The rider had a death hold on him," said Werner, who breezed Badge of Silver in rings, a piece of equipment designed to help control a horse's speed.

"He went off real easy," Werner said. "He had fun. We'd given him a couple quarter-mile breezes and some stiff gallops, so he was pretty fit. He did it so easy, without fatigue. I don't think it's going to take long to get him ready. We'll take it day by day."

It's too soon to say when Badge of Silver could make a start. The Feb. 29 New Orleans Handicap is the major race at this meet for him.

Badge of Silver, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, hurt himself while he was training for the Blue Grass Stakes, and had screws surgically inserted and then removed from his leg to repair the bone. After a spectacular 2-year-old maiden victory at Keeneland in April 2002, Badge of Silver had suffered a similar injury.

Werner, who drove from Louisville to New Orleans on Saturday night, still is settling in here, but his stable already has two wins at the meet. Both came with lower-level young horses, but Werner has several unraced or lightly raced 2-year-olds with potential.

"They're still sorting themselves out," he said.

Timo conquers Calder, returns home safely

Compared with the trip Timo had Saturday in the $100,000 Mecke Stakes at Calder, an 18-hour van ride Sunday from Miami back to New Orleans was nothing. Timo came out of the Mecke in good shape and made it back to Fair Grounds in excellent physical condition. He will in all likelihood head back to Florida for the Tropical Park Derby.

Timo ran a remarkable race in the Mecke. He was stuck far outside in post 12, and, for the first time in his career, Timo was rated far behind the early pace. He came with a strong run on the far turn, but was fanned about 10 paths wide at the head of the stretch before rallying from ninth to first in the final furlong.

Timo, a 3-year-old El Prado colt bred and owned by the C.K. Woods Stable, now has won 3 times in 5 starts with 2 seconds. All his races have come on turf, and his trainer, Bill Badgett, has no plans to switch Timo to dirt.

"He doesn't even train well on dirt," Badgett said. "His action is completely different. I told the owner, if it rains and the race comes off, we'll have to scratch."

Badgett said Timo won't run in the Jan. 10 Black Gold Handicap, the only turf stakes at Fair Grounds for 3-year-old colts, but instead will return to Calder for the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on Jan. 1.

"After that we'll put him away till the spring and see what our options are," Badgett said.

Scat Sam Man sidelined three to four months

Scat Sam Man injured his knee in his final workout before last weekend's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and is out of training for three to four months, trainer Tom Amoss said.

Amoss took over Scat Sam Man's training late this summer after owner Walter "Buddy" New purchased the colt privately. A blowout Ellis Park maiden win precipitated the purchase, and Scat Sam Man had earned a start in the Kentucky Jockey Club with an easy entry-level allowance victory at Churchill.

"The prognosis is good for him to resume racing," Amoss said.

Grendel sharp, but may get shut out

Grendel ran his way into the Dec. 27 Woodchopper Handicap with an impressive comeback victory here in Friday's eighth race. The Woodchopper, at about 1 1/16 miles on turf, is one of the season's final stakes restricted to 2-year-olds. The race often overfills, however, and Grendel isn't certain to make the field.

Away from the races since July 5, Grendel beat only a modest group of entry-level allowance horses Friday, but he overcame obstacles. Jockey Curt Bourque said Grendel wasn't handling a wet grass course, and at 5 1/2 furlongs, the race probably was too short for Grendel, who has a bulky body and a long stride. But he gathered himself at the eighth pole and finished fast to win by a half-length, his best performance since a debut victory in a dirt sprint here last spring.

"He's tough to figure out," trainer Al Stall said. "A horse that wants to be a one-run sprinter can fool you, but he still acts like he wants to run all day."

Kentucky riders due in

A number of Kentucky-based jockeys are scheduled to begin riding here Thursday, including Calvin Borel, Larry Melancon, Shane Sellers, and Robby Albarado, who hasn't ridden at all since Nov. 1.

Albarado suffered a hairline fracture to his wrist in a paddock accident, and he was to fly to Kentucky on Tuesday to receive final clearance from a doctor to resume riding. Albarado, who began working horses Saturday, was named on four mounts Thursday.

Also back in action is Lonnie Meche, who was sidelined opening week because of a suspension incurred at Louisiana Downs.

* Joel Santiago, who suffered a concussion in a spill here Saturday, was to resume riding Thursday, but Kirk LeBlanc, who injured a hand in the accident, was off his mounts. The spill occurred when LeBlanc's mount, Taking Flight, broke down fatally at the quarter pole. Santiago was thrown when the horse he was riding, Vitamin Bag, swerved to avoid the fallen horse.