08/16/2006 11:00PM

Bernardini responds in workout

Bernardini is preparing for the Travers on Aug. 26, when he'll try for his fifth straight win.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Albertrani was looking for a stronger workout from Bernardini than he got last week, and Bernardini obliged with a sharp five-furlong move in 1:00.74 Thursday morning over a deep Saratoga main track.

The work, with exercise rider Simon Harris aboard, was the second-fastest of 20 at the distance. It was almost three seconds faster than Bernardini's five-furlong move last Friday, which went in 1:03.48. Bernardini, who followed his Preakness win with a nine-length win in the Jim Dandy on July 31, is being prepared for a start in the $1 million Travers on Aug. 26.

Harris let Bernardini get a strong run-up to the five-furlong pole, and Bernardini was timed in fractions of 12.75 seconds, 24.86, 37.03, and he got his last quarter in 23.71 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.63 and went out a mile in 1:41.64.

"I wanted him to do more today," said Albertrani, who watched the work atop his stable pony. "I told Simon to be sure to let him gallop out and get something out of it this time. It's really the last time we're going to put a strong work into him."

The main track has been extremely deep and demanding the last week, something Harris said he felt, but his horse didn't.

"From the quarter pole on he was taking me along, but I could feel the difference in the track," Harris said. "You know me, I stayed out wide again, but you can feel it. It's nothing to him."

Albertrani said he has not altered Bernardini's training because of the deeper surface this week.

"I'm not so much worried about how fit he is," Albertrani said. "It's been a bit on the deeper side lately, I don't know the reasons why. He handles anything. He gets over any track with ease; he's very light on his feet. He just covers so much ground. After the Jim Dandy it looks like he could handle any type of surface."

The field for the Travers is taking shape. Expected to join Bernardini in the starting gate are Bluegrass Cat, Bright One, Dr. Pleasure, Hesanoldsalt, High Cotton, and Minister's Bid. Victory Lake is possible, and Lewis Michael is doubtful.

Better Talk Now to Australia?

The connections of Better Talk Now are strongly considering sending him to the Melbourne Turf Cup, scheduled for Nov. 7 in Australia.

"There's never been a North American horse that's run in the Melbourne Cup," said trainer Graham Motion. "It's something that would be tremendous to do. The odds are staked against you, but it would be fun."

Motion said he isn't sure where he would run Better Talk Now next, though the Man o' War at Belmont on Sept. 9 is a possibility. Better Talk Now won the Man o' War last year.

Better Talk Now has won once from three starts this year, a head decision in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico. He finished fifth in the United Nations and seventh in the Arlington Million, but was beaten only 3 3/4 lengths and four lengths.

"I still feel the horse is as good as he was," said Motion. "It's going to be hard for me to justify that off his last two races. We went to Arlington because we thought we would get an honest pace scenario."

Motion reports that Shake the Bank, who has been used as a rabbit for Better Talk Now, has a chip in an ankle that needs to be removed. He will be out indefinitely.

Motion said that Film Maker, second to Gorella in the Beverly D, would run next in either the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont on Oct. 7 or the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita on Sept. 30.

Woodward hopefuls work

Sun King and Premium Tap, the second- and fifth-place finishers from the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, both put in workouts Thursday morning as they point to the Grade 1 Woodward here on Sept. 2.

Sun King, beaten a nose by Invasor, went four furlongs in 49.10 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. Premium Tap, with jockey Kent Desormeaux up, also went four furlongs in 49.10 over the main track. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.71.

Nick Zito, trainer of Sun King, said the Whitney took a lot out of Sun King, but the colt has bounced back well and if he continues to have a few good weeks, he'll run.

"He's looking good to all of us right now," said Zito, who is also likely to run Andromeda's Hero in the Woodward.

Trainer John Kimmel said he is considering the Woodward or the Brooklyn Handicap on Sept. 16 for Premium Tap. However, Premium Tap is not Breeders' Cup eligible so he would not be running for the entire $150,000 purse in the Brooklyn.

"I think the horse was very much in need of his race," Kimmel said of the Whitney. "He had missed a breeze going into the Whitney. He really had only one five-eighths breeze going in and that was kid of a pedestrian breeze, too. He came out of the race in good shape. Hopefully, he should go forward from there."

Kimmel also worked Awesome Twist on Thursday for the Grade 1 Forego. Working in company with Tilden, Awesome Twist drilled four furlongs in 49.24 seconds.

* Balletto, runner-up in the Grade 1 Go for Wand, worked five furlongs in 1:01.22 Thursday in preparation for a start in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 25.