09/11/2008 11:00PM

Big races up next for 'Big Red'

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Though Lieutenant Ron has raced only twice, he has done enough for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to consider him an upper echelon 3-year-old.

"We kid about there's Big Brown and there's Big Red, and we have Big Red," McLaughlin said. "And we really feel that way; he's a top horse."

There is still time for Lieutenant Ron to prove how good he is and it starts Sunday when he returns in a second-level allowance race at six furlongs at Belmont Park. It will be Lieutenant Ron's first start since he won a first-level allowance race in April at Aqueduct. Before that, he won a seven-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct last November.

Lieutenant Ron was going to be entered in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 10, but "he pulled up funny" from a training session on entry day, McLaughlin said, and needed time off.

"It was a weird thing, we're not even sure what exactly happened on entry day for the Peter Pan, but we were forced to give him a few weeks off again," McLaughlin said. "But he's come back great; has not missed a day and all is well."

Lieutenant Ron, a son of Graeme Hall, has shown excellent early speed in each of his two victories but meets a field loaded with front-end types Sunday. Sixthirteen and Fleet Valid could give Lieutenant Ron problems on the front end.

McLaughlin is hoping to use this race as a stepping-stone to stakes action, possibly the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Stakes for 3-year-olds Oct. 5.

"The Jerome would be the next logical option, even though it's back in three weeks; it's okay if he's doing well," McLaughlin said. "But then there's the Indiana Derby that same weekend. We could just sit and wait for something a little bit later. There are a lot of options, but he's a top horse and we are going to look at big races."

Abraaj, one of McLaughlin's top older sprinters, worked four furlongs in 47.14 seconds Friday morning over the Belmont training track in preparation for a start in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 27.

Grand Couturier works toward Hirsch

In hopes of beating the wet weather that indeed did arrive Friday afternoon, trainer Robert Ribaudo received permission to work Sword Dancer winner Grand Couturier over the Belmont turf course Friday morning.

In a solid move, Grand Couturier worked four furlongs in 48.67 seconds, while breezing well off the inside part of the inner turf course. He galloped an additional three furlongs in 39.45 seconds before being pulled up by exercise rider Enrique Garcia.

"That's the nice part about all his works," Ribaudo said about the way Grand Couturier gallops out. "It may look like we're going shorter to get a horse ready to go a mile and a half, but we know he's going to do that galloping out. When he's breezing a half-mile, he's breezing three-quarters."

Ribaudo is planning on running Grand Couturier in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here on Sept. 27 as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Timber Reserve eyes Gold Cup

Timber Reserve, who returned to the winner's circle with an allowance victory at Saratoga on Aug. 29, worked five furlongs in 1:00.86 Friday morning over Belmont Park's training track. He is being pointed to the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup where he will meet reigning Horse of the Year Curlin.

With regular rider Kent Desormeaux up for the work, Timber Reserve went his first quarter in 24.95 seconds and finished his final three furlongs in 35.91 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.39.

Trainer John Kimmel moved the work up a day, fearing an off track Saturday.

"Just looking for a little maintenance breeze," Kimmel said. "I'll come back on the main track next week. Now we got a couple of days to play with in case there's a weather problem."

Timber Reserve won the Pennsylvania Derby last September, but had been plagued by foot problems for months. He finally returned to the winner's circle on Aug. 29 when he won a third-level allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.17 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

158 hit pick six for $9,048

After going unhit since last Saturday, the pick six was finally hit Friday, returning a healthy $9,048 in a sequence whose highest-priced winner was $12.20. There were 158 winning tickets

There was a three-day carryover of $608,857 entering the day after the wager went unclaimed Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. An additional $1,466,218 was wagered into the pool Friday.

The winning sequence of 2-6-9-9-10-8 consisted of My Magic Moment ($6), Dirty Water Dog ($5.40), Missile Motor ($4.90), American Cruiser ($12.20), Impressionism ($9.40), and Messa Nesra ($10).

The consolation payout (5 of 6) was $78.

Retired trainer McCoy, 80, dies

Retired trainer Don McCoy, who campaigned the multiple graded stakes winner Cedar Key in the 1960s, died at his home in Howard Beach, N.Y. He was 80.

A viewing for McCoy was to be held Saturday and Sunday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Casey & Porrello Funeral Home, 10018 159th Ave, Howard Beach. A funeral mass will be held 9:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church 100-05 159th Ave, Howard Beach.

McCoy is survived by his wife, Eleanor, and children Dorren, Donna, and David.

* Commentator, the two-time Whitney winner, worked four furlongs in 47.96 seconds Friday morning at Saratoga. He is preparing for a start in the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs next Saturday.

* Zaftig, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn, worked four furlongs in 49.05 seconds over the training track Friday. It was her second work since being sidelined by a stress fracture that forced her to miss the summer's big races.