08/01/2003 11:00PM

Birdstone romps for Whitney, Zito


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Saturday was Whitney day at Saratoga, so it was only appropriate that owner-breeder Marylou Whitney would win Saturday's fourth race with her homebred Birdstone.

Birdstone, a 2-year-old son of Grindstone and Dear Birdie, was nothing short of sensational in his career debut, drawing off to a 12 1/2-length victory under jockey Edgar Prado. Birdstone is a half-brother to the Whitney Stable's Grade 1 winner Bird Town.

"That was really cool," said Nick Zito, who trains both Bird Town and Birdstone. "We planned all along to run this colt on Whitney day, and to have him win like that was unbelievable. He's almost identical to his sister, and I think he's really going to be an exciting horse. He's just so classy and does everything right. I think with a little luck he could turn out to be something special and have a real big future."

Zito said he would wait to see what happens in the next couple of weeks, but he would not rule out running Birdstone in the Grade 1 Hopeful.

Requete out for year with injury

Requete, who finished second in Grade 1 events such as the Manhattan Handicap and Woodford Reserve, has developed a ligament injury, according to trainer Bobby Frankel, and will be out for the rest of the year.

Requete last ran in the United Nations Handicap on July 5, where he finished fourth behind Balto Star. Frankel said he wasn't sure if the injury happened in the race or afterward.

"It showed up after the race," Frankel said. "It just needs time. It looks absolutely normal now."

Requete, a 4-year-old son of Rainbow Quest, has a record of three wins, two seconds, and one third from nine starts. He won a restricted stakes at Santa Anita in February. Frankel is hopeful the horse will return to the races next year.

Man From Wicklow back in training

Trainer Rick Violette said his Grade 1 stakes winner Man From Wicklow is back in training and being pointed for a fall-winter campaign. Man From Wicklow has not started since finishing second in Keeneland's Elkhorn Handicap on April 23.

"I put the tack back on him about two weeks ago," said Violette, who also owns Man From Wicklow. "His pasterns began bugging him after his last race, his XYZ ligaments were inflamed, and I just needed to stop on him or the problem could have gotten a lot more serious."

Man From Wicklow won Calder's Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap to close out a successful, if not somewhat frustrating, 2002 campaign, then opened the current season with an easy 4 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Man From Wicklow was plagued by unlucky trips on several occasions in major turf stakes last year, the worst of which occurred here in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, when he finished fourth, beaten only two lengths by With Anticipation.

"I would really have loved to run him this summer in the United Nations and especially give him another chance here next week in the Sword Dancer," said Violette. "I think he's good enough on his best game to beat those horses. But if I could repeat last year in Florida and win the McKnight and Gulfstream Breeders' Cup again this winter, I'd sign on the dotted line right now."

Rain shortens Spoken Fur's training schedule

The wet weather that plagued the area this weekend has altered trainer Bobby Frankel's training schedule for Spoken Fur. The 3-year-old filly easily won the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks in her last two starts and will try to sweep the filly triple crown series here Aug. 16 in the Alabama.

"She was supposed to work on Friday, but I won't work her until the track is dry," Frankel said on Saturday. "That might mean I'll have time to get only one work into her instead of two before the Alabama."

Christine's Outlaw searching for a spot

Trainer George Weaver has entered Christine's Outlaw for dirt only in Monday's National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes. The race is scheduled to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

"I'm really not in any hurry with him," said Weaver. "He's had quite a few races already this season."

Christine's Outlaw suffered heartbreaking defeats in his last two starts, finishing second, beaten a nose by Awesome Time, in Delaware's Grade 3 Leonard Richard Stakes and second, a head behind Max Forever, in Monmouth's Long Branch Breeders' Cup in his last try.

"Add a couple of feet in his last two starts and it makes a big difference in how much money he'd have earned," Weaver said. "In his last race he blew a front shoe, and I'm certain he was the best horse in there. It was very disappointing."

Weaver said if Christine's Outlaw does not run Monday he might consider Mountaineer Park's West Virginia Derby on Aug. 9.

- additional reporting by David Grening