08/31/2001 11:00PM

Bailey, still in a dogfight, ties own record for meet wins


SARATOGA N.Y. - Jerry Bailey rode two winners on Friday to equal his own meet record of 50 victories, set here last summer. He tied the mark winning the fourth race aboard Miu Miu for leading trainer Bill Mott. It was the 20th win of the meet for Mott, which also equaled the meet record, established by Todd Pletcher in 1998.

"It's great equaling the record, but the record doesn't mean a thing if I don't beat Johnny [Velazquez] for the title," said Bailey. "Right now my main goal is to finish the meet with one more win than John."

Bailey, who also won Friday's opener on Magic Feet, held a 50-45 advantage over Velazquez going into the final three days of the meet.

Bailey has won 11 stakes races here this summer, which eclipsed his own mark of 10 stakes winners, set last year.

Santos to return Monday

Jockey Jose Santos, out of action since breaking his right wrist on May 12, is expected to return Monday at the Meadowlands. He will ride a couple of races, including either Silver Tornado or Quick Blue in the $75,000 Just Smashing Stakes.

Santos will then ride at Belmont Park when that meet opens on Friday.

Santos's last ride came in Kalu's victory in the Hawthorne Derby on May 12. Galloping out after the race, Kalu unseated Santos and he landed on his wrist. Santos, 40, has been getting on horses in the mornings at Belmont Park since Wednesday.

"I can't wait," Santos said. "There is no man happier than me when I'm getting on horses. I'm about 90 percent. I've been jogging for a month and a half. By the time Belmont opens I'll be 100 percent ready."

Balto Star makes turf debut

Balto Star, the Arkansas Derby winner, will make his turf debut Sunday in a fourth-level allowance race at Saratoga.

A son of Glitterman, Balto Star has made 10 starts. He last raced in the Belmont Stakes, finishing eighth, 45 1/4 lengths behind Point Given. Prior to that, he finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby after pressing the fastest early pace in Derby history.

"There is turf in his pedigree, and I felt like at this stage if he does handle the turf it would open up a lot of opportunities for a horse like him," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "If he were to run well it might give him a Breeders' Cup option."

Pletcher was referring to the Breeders' Cup Mile. Sunday's race is at a mile over the inner turf course. Balto Star has worked twice over the Oklahoma turf course, including a six-furlong move in 1:12.16 on Aug. 20 and a six-furlong move in 1:13.65 on Aug. 27.

"He's a gelding," said Pletcher. "It's our job to manage him in a fashion where he can be successful for a long time."

Meanwhile, Pletcher said that Irving's Baby will make her next start in the Beldame on Oct. 6, while Tweedside, the winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks, may make her next start in the Flower Bowl at Belmont on Sept. 29.

"We want to see where she belongs in terms of the Breeders' Cup," Pletcher said of Tweedside.

If Tweedside can handle the turf, she may be a candidate for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/4 miles.

Stewards stand pat on agent rule

The New York stewards have denied a request to change the rule that allows an agent to represent only one journeyman jockey and one apprentice. Several jockey agents have inquired about representing more than one journeyman.

"We feel the rule should be the same," said Dave Hicks, the New York Racing Association steward. "We've had no problem with the rule before and see no reason to change it. This rule has been in effect for a long time."

In California, where agents can represent two journeyman riders, Tony Matos represents Gary Stevens and Victor Espinoza. Both plan to ride this fall at Belmont. Matos said Espinoza will ride only select races and will not have an official agent. In the Belmont condition book, Matos is listed only as the agent for Stevens.

"Victor is only coming until the beginning of Oak Tree," said Matos, referring to the meet at Santa Anita that begins on Sept. 26. "He's just going to be a visiting rider. I've already got the calls for Victor. He won't be there for the whole meet."

Options for Shooting Party

Shooting Party will run next Sunday at Belmont Park, but trainer Allen Jerkens hasn't decided whether to send her short on the dirt or long on the grass. Shooting Party, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.25 over the main track on Friday, is nominated to two Sunday races: the $100,000 Floral Park Stakes going six furlongs on the main track and the $250,000 Garden City Stakes, a Grade 1 at nine furlongs on grass.

Shooting Party finished a tiring fourth going two turns for the first time in a third-level allowance race here last week. Earlier this year, Shooting Party, a 3-year-old daughter of Sky Classic, finished third in the Grade 2 Nassau County Stakes and fifth in the Grade 1 Prioress. She has never started on turf.

"She's bred for the grass," said Jerkens. "I couldn't believe when she stopped like that in her last start. She worked like she'd go the distance."

Jerkens has four victories this meet, including last Sunday's Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap with Shine Again.

"I've had several horses who have really disappointed me here this summer," said Jerkens who has been coming to Saratoga since 1946. "Winning the Grade 1 made the whole meet."

* Marie Taylor, a sophomore at Iona College, has been selected the winner of Team Valor's inaugural Valordictorian Award. The award will be given annually to provide college funding for the offspring of a backstretch employee.

Taylor is the daughter of Maureen Taylor, a pony girl, and Kevin Taylor, a former exercise rider and currently a racehorse van driver.

- additional reporting by David Grening