07/21/2005 11:00PM

Bravo expected out of hospital soon


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Joe Bravo remained hospitalized Friday after breaking his collarbone in a Thursday spill at Monmouth Park.

The meet's leading rider, Bravo was taken to Monmouth Medical Center for treatment.

"He is still body-sore," Bravo's agent, Danny Mellul, said Friday afternoon. "They are going to wean him off the painkillers and send him home tonight or tomorrow."

The injury put a crimp in another standout season for Bravo on the Jersey Shore. He holds a huge lead in the standings in a bid for an 11th title at the track.

"He's a little down," Mellul said. "He was having a tremendous meet, but there was nothing you can do."

Dr. Angelo Chinnici, Monmouth's medical director, estimated Bravo would be sidelined four to six weeks.

"We'll play it by ear and see how he bounces back," Mellul said.

With Mellul's only client sidelined, the agent said he was looking to pick up another rider.

Rajiv Maragh, the rider whose horse started the sequence that led to Bravo's spill, was handed a 10-day suspension by Monmouth stewards. The suspension starts Monday.

King, filly think quickly

The spill that sent Bravo to the hospital could have been much worse if not for the quick reactions of Eddie King Jr. and his mount, The Truth Detector.

They were about to plow into the fallen horse and rider when King, 46, drew on years of experience to place his trust in his filly.

"You react," King said. "The mind is so much faster than any computer. In a split second, all the thoughts go through your head. You process the information and hope somebody above is looking out for you."

King knew that if The Truth Detector could see trouble, she would take evasive action.

"When the horse went down in front of me, I dropped my hands and let the reins fall out," King said. "I grabbed the mane."

It worked perfectly, as The Truth Detector leapt over the bodies on the track and avoided a chain-reaction spill.

"I experienced that before and it worked," King said. "The horse doesn't want to fall. If I don't let her see it, she doesn't get a chance to jump."

As The Truth Detector started to leap, King lost his grip on the mane. He looked like a rodeo rider with his arms in the air and his feet out of the irons, but he managed to stay on.

"Just trust the animals," King said. "They amaze me every day I get on them."

Hills thinking Oaks for Toll Taker

Trainer Tim Hills hopes to use the $60,000 Serena's Song Stakes on Sunday a springboard for Toll Taker into the Grade 3, $200,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 14.

Toll Taker had already won a major stakes at the meet, the off-the-turf $150,000 Boiling Springs Stakes on May 29. She was third last time out in the Denise Rhudy Memorial Stakes on the grass at Delaware Park.

"Hopefully, this will be a good prep," Hills said.

Completing the Serena's Song field are Avery Hall, Capitulation, Golden Locket, Hush Lillie, and Winning Season.

Joey P. has first loss; Haskell iffy

The $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap on Aug. 7 looks less likely for Joey P. after the gelding suffered his first defeat, in an allowance race on Friday.

Joey P. had captured the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes last time out. In Friday's allowance, he faced two turns for the first time.

With Jorge Chavez replacing the injured Bravo, Joey P. took the lead on the first turn and dictated the pace in the four-horse race.

The New Jersey-bred Joey P. was still in front turning for home but tired on the rail in the late stages. He finished third behind Ricardo A and Play Bingo.

"I'm not sure what happens now," said trainer Frankie Costa when asked about the Haskell. "We're playing it by ear."

Afleet Alex given 123 pounds

The Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, Afleet Alex, has been assigned 123 pounds for the 1 1/8-mile Haskell.

Trainer Tim Ritchey has said the Haskell will be Afleet Alex's next start.

The Preakness runner-up, Scrappy T, is next at 120. Roman Ruler, also a likely Haskell runner, is next at 119, along with Sun King and Surf Cat.

Park Avenue Ball, winner of the Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes, the traditional Haskell prep, was given 118 pounds.