06/17/2003 12:00AM

Best Minister sizzles in workout under Santos


ELMONT, N.Y. - While Funny Cide gets a little freshening after the Triple Crown grind, his regular jockey Jose Santos on Tuesday took another 3-year-old out for a spin, guiding Best Minister through a five-furlong workout in 59.45 seconds over a fast Belmont Park main track.

Santos will ride Best Minister in the Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont on July 6. Tuesday's move was the fastest of 44 works at the distance.

"He went a little fast in the beginning," Santos said. "He was still a little fresh, but he finished with good energy. He's doing really good. He's not a big, big horse but he's very well put together."

Best Minister, who won the Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness Day, was being pointed to the June 7 Belmont Stakes. But on June 4, the morning entries were taken, his connections noticed Best Minister was off his feed and decided not to pay the $100,000 supplemental fee to run in the Belmont.

"He's eating the bottom out of his feed tub at this moment," said Roger Horgan, trainer Ken McPeek's New York assistant. "He's acting like a bear now. It was a good, solid work, he did it very well within himself."

Best Minister has shown a tendency to be a bit of a run-off in the morning, but he's a completely different animal in the afternoon, settling nicely until called upon by his rider.

"He's not the easiest ride in the world in the mornings," said Horgan, a former steeplechase rider who gallops Best Minister. "He's the ultimate professional in the afternoon. I'd rather have him be a bear in the morning and a gentlemen in the afternoon than the other way around."

Last November, Horgan, 30, retired from riding steeplechase horses. He began working for McPeek in March at Gulfstream and also assisted McPeek at Keeneland and Arlington this spring. Horgan has been running McPeek's New York shed row for the last week.

"I probably could've ridden for another three or four years. I felt I was riding as well as at anytime in my career," said Horgan, who counts Ironfist, John's Call, and Anofferyoucantrefuse among the best horses he's ridden. "Eventually, I wanted to get into training and I wanted to get in the engine room of a good flat trainer. I had some offers and Kenny's was the most appealing."

Horgan oversees the training of 18 head, including Take Charge Lady, whom Horgan will saddle for Saturday's Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap.

"All in all, I don't regret it one bit," Horgan said about his career change. "On a morning like this, doing what I'm doing, I can't think of any place I'd rather be. I've got classy horses, I'm at Belmont Park, which is the place to be, and it's a lot of fun. Kenny's a great guy to work for; he gives us a lot of responsibilities and that's a confidence booster."

Peace Rules preps for Haskell

Bobby Frankel plans to train Peace Rules right up to the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3 at Monmouth Park. Tuesday, Peace Rules drilled four furlongs in 46.46 seconds, the fastest of 59 works at the distance. Belmont clockers caught Peace Rules galloping out five furlongs in 59.48 seconds.

Peace Rules won the Louisiana Derby and Blue Grass before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. Most recently, he finished fourth in the Preakness; Frankel claimed Peace Rules didn't handle Pimlico's track.

Frankel had thought about running Peace Rules in the $500,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 12, but doesn't like the timing between that race and the Haskell.

"I think I'm just going to get him ready for the Haskell," Frankel said. "I'm going to run Urban King [at Colonial] and it's too close the Haskell anyway."

Meanwhile, Frankel said Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker returned to the track last Friday and will be pointed to the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 3.

Locals heading north to Boston

Saturday's $200,000 James B. Moseley Handicap at Suffolk Downs will have a strong New York flavor.

Among the horses scheduled to run in the six-furlong race are True Direction, last year's Fall Highweight Handicap winner who came off the bench to run six furlongs in 1:07.86 winning an allowance race last month; My Cousin Matt, who most recently ran in Dubai; and Peeping Tom, who finished third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. First Blush, trained by Allen Jerkens, and Here's Zealous are also possible.

On Tuesday, My Cousin Matt worked four furlongs in 48.60 seconds at Belmont. On Monday, Peeping Tom drilled four furlongs in 48.09 seconds over Belmont's training track and True Direction went five furlongs in 1:02.33 over the training track. First Blush on Tuesday worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 over the training track.

Trainer Pat Reynolds said the Moseley would be Peeping Tom's last race before getting the summer off.

"He's not real slick with the heat; it depresses him," Reynolds said. "He doesn't like Saratoga. Anyone who doesn't like Saratoga is a little on the weird side. We'll turn him out for awhile after this."

Reynolds said that Shawklit Mint, the upset winner of the Vagrancy, will be pointed to the $500,000 Princess Rooney at Calder on July 12.

* The game of musical agents continued over the weekend. Steve Adika, who was fired by Javier Castellano, has picked up Shaun Bridgmohan. Mike Kelly, who was Heberto Castillo's agent, now represents Castellano. Castillo does not have an agent.