06/26/2008 11:00PM

Big Brown ready to gallop


ELMONT, N.Y. - After a restful three weeks following his last-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown is about to resume serious training in preparation for the second half of his 3-year-old season, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Friday.

Big Brown has done little more than jog since the Belmont, but Dutrow said the horse was likely to begin regular gallops over the weekend with a possible workout as early as Tuesday. Big Brown is being pointed to the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3.

"He's doing really good, he's eating everything, he looks like a picture, he's as happy as he can be," Dutrow said. "It looks like he's gained a little bit [of weight]. Right now, his belly looks good. I'm ready to proceed."

Dutrow said that Big Brown - who has been training without shoes - would likely be re-shod Monday by Ian McKinlay, the hoof lameness specialist who worked on Big Brown's quarter crack in his left front foot before the Belmont.

"I think we're putting his shoes back on Monday," Dutrow said. "I'll gallop him up to Monday and then maybe Tuesday I'll start breezing him, I'm not sure."

While the Haskell remains Big Brown's first objective, Dutrow did not rule out running him back in the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 23.

"In a perfect world, I would like to see him win the Haskell and Travers, but especially my world, it's not perfect," Dutrow said.

Dutrow added that he has not bought into any of the myriad of theories being presented about why Big Brown ran so poorly in the Belmont.

"I think that the first half-mile of the race the trip that he got was one of the worst trips that you'd ever want to see," Dutrow said. "After that, I can't explain it."

Dutrow said recent photos that show Big Brown's right hind shoe being dislodged early on don't prove anything to him.

"I know there's other people that believe that's what happened, and man I hope they're right," he said. "I hope that's all it was . . . a spread shoe behind."

Dutrow said he'll feel better about Big Brown after he sees the horse gallop and breeze.

"Once we gallop him, I'll be feeling very good if Michelle tells me he's great," Dutrow said, referring to exercise rider Michelle Nevin. "Once we breeze him, I'll be feeling very good if she tells me he's the same horse."

Jockey agent Micallef reinstated

Tony Micallef, the agent for jockey Alan Garcia, on Friday had his license reinstated by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Micallef said he returned to good standing after faxing the state a toxicology report from a urine test he took that showed no signs of any illegal substances in his body.

Earlier this month, Micallef surrendered his license after refusing to take a urine test. Micallef said he declined because he wanted his lawyer present, but that racing officials would not allow that.

Garcia, 22, is coming off an upset win aboard Da' Tara in the Belmont Stakes and is the second-leading rider at the Belmont meet.

Starforaday targets Tom Fool

In Starforaday, trainer Gary Contessa believes he could have one of the top sprinters in the country. Starforaday will try to prove his trainer right when he runs in Friday's Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap.

Starforaday, a 5-year-old son of Five Star Day, has won both of his starts since being acquired by Contessa and Winning Move Stable. That includes a neck victory in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

Contessa said he has had to battle severe foot problems with Starforada, including contracted heels and a plethora of quarter cracks.

"This horse's feet are horrendous," Contessa said. "When he can run, I'm going to run him. I truly believe he's one of the best sprinters out there."

Contessa believes Starforaday could be on the same level as Benny the Bull, regarded as the top sprinter on the East Coast, if not the country.

Others pointing to the Tom Fool are Council Member, Lucky Island, Not for Money, Premium Wine, and Tasteyville.