05/09/2003 12:00AM

Blazing Fury has first work


ELMONT, N.Y. - Belmont Park's turf course opened for workouts for the first time this year on Friday. Among the six horses on the work tab was graded stakes winner Blazing Fury.

In his first work of 2003, Blazing Fury covered three furlongs in 37.93 seconds over a course that was listed as good. The dogs, the cones that protect the inside of the turf, were out about half the width of the course.

Blazing Fury's trainer, Jimmy Toner, was pleased with the move and said the 5-year-old should be ready to run in June. Toner would like to find an allowance spot for Blazing Fury's first start. A summer goal will be the $500,000 Sword Dancer on Aug. 9 at Saratoga.

Blazing Fury, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park as a 3-year-old in 2001, last ran in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont in September. He ran a huge race, finishing second to Denon, beaten a half-length.

Toner, who trains Blazing Fury for Caesar Kimmel and Ronald Nicholson, was pointing Blazing Fury to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 when the gelding suffered a tendon injury the week of the race.

Blazing Fury underwent surgery at Rood and Riddle in Kentucky to repair a slight tear in his tendon.

"To be successful with those [tendon] injuries you have to get to them early," Toner said. "When he was rescanned four months after surgery, he was 100 percent."

Toner specifically waited for the grass course to open to work Blazing Fury, who won the Grade 3 Saranac Handicap at Saratoga in 2001.

"He hits his elbow when he works on the dirt, so he has to work on the grass," Toner said. "It's unusual for horses to do that."

Brooklyn next for Saarland

Trainer Shug McGaughey said that Saarland, who finished second as the favorite in Wednesday's Westchester Handicap, will be pointed to the $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont on June 14.

Najran controlled the pace and won the one-mile Westchester in an eye-popping 1:32.24, a track record that tied Dr. Fager's North American dirt record. Saarland trailed early and was beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

"[Saarland] ran a great race," McGaughey said. "It was probably the best race of his life. He doesn't ever break away sharp and they got a jump on him. They were running away from there fast, too. I've never seen a horse race run a race like [Najran] before."

McGaughey said the pair of mile races that Saarland has under his belt this year will set him up well for the Grade 2 Brooklyn.

"If everything goes right, going a mile and an eighth in a handicap, he should be tough," McGaughey said.

Tap the Admiral returns in allowance

An extremely competitive money allowance for turf horses has been carded for Sunday. Among the eight runners in the one-mile race, which goes as the seventh, is Tap the Admiral, who blossomed into a useful grass horse last year.

Trained by Del Carroll II, Tap the Admiral hasn't run since finishing first in his stakes debut in the John Henry Handicap at Arlington Park on Oct. 25. In a controversial disqualification, Tap the Admiral was placed second for lugging in during the stretch run. The disqualification was appealed by Tap the Admiral's owner, Stanley Ettinger, and a decision is expected shortly.

Tap the Admiral received a freshening at the Camden Training Center in South Carolina after his last race and returned to Carroll's Belmont barn in February.

"He's a horse that likes to train and he's as fit as we can get him in the morning," Carroll said.

Tap the Admiral, who will be ridden by Mike Luzzi, can handle firm and moist ground. Rain is in the forecast.

The strong field also includes stakes winners Union Place, Krieger, and True Phenomenon.

True Phenomenon won the mile Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar last year for trainer Bobby Frankel. Jerry Bailey rides True Phenomenon from the rail.

Extra cushion slows track slightly

After the main track played exceptionally fast the first two days of the meet, times moderated on Friday, the first twilight racing card of the meet.

Jerry Porcelli, the track superintendent, said an additional quarter inch of cushion was added to the track, starting at the rail and extending 40 feet out, for Friday's card.

"We are trying to get the track where we want it; it was a little too quick Wednesday," Porcelli said. "For all concerned, we wanted it a little more moderate. It takes some fine tuning."

o Norberto Arroyo Jr., who fell when his mount stumbled leaving the gate in the fourth race on opening day, took off his mounts again on Friday.