07/15/2002 11:00PM

Buddha won't make Travers

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The star-crossed 3-year-old Buddha suffered another setback that will keep him from making the major races at Saratoga this summer including the Grade 1 Travers.

According to trainer James Bond, Buddha tore a muscle high up in his rear end that will preclude Bond from working him for approximately the next three weeks. Without any serious work for that long, Bond said he could not make the Travers on Aug. 24.

"I can't speed work him for the next 2 1/2 to three weeks," Bond said Tuesday from Kentucky, where he was attending the yearling sales. "If it tears more I'd possibly put myself in real trouble."

Since winning the Wood Memorial in April, little has gone right for Buddha, owned by Gary and Mary West. First, Buddha was scratched out of the Kentucky Derby the day before the race with a bruised foot. Then, he was forced to miss the Dwyer Stakes when he contracted a cough and had mucous in his lungs the week before the race.

Now, Bond is looking at a potential fall campaign that could begin with the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 2 or the Jerome at Belmont on Sept. 14. The goal remains the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

"It's been trying," Bond said. "I can't say I'm not disappointed. But, he's still intact and we'll keep our fingers crossed for the fall. He's doing very well other than this. I was hoping to win the Travers. But, we got a very talented horse, it's not a cracked bone, it's not a bow, it's not a suspensory. He's been galloping 1 1/2 to two miles every day. We're just in a holding pattern."

The news of Buddha's setback comes the same day trainer Ken McPeek said Belmont Stakes winner Sarava would miss the remainder of the year with a fractured cannon bone. Sarava was being pointed to either the Jim Dandy or the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 4.

Another 3-year-old who could miss the Jim Dandy is Gygistar, winner of the Riva Ridge and Dwyer stakes. Trainer Mark Hennig said Gygistar came out of the race with a temperature and he has not trained since the Dwyer. Hennig said that if Gygistar can resume training shortly, he could still make the Dwyer.

"If we don't it's going to be because he didn't make it back from this," Hennig said. "If that's the case, we'll just train him up to the [King's Bishop]."

Oxley purchases Mike's Wildcat

Mike's Wildcat, the 2-year-old filly who romped to an eight-length victory in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont on June 30, has been purchased privately by John Oxley and turned over to trainer John Ward.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

Mike's Wildcat, a daughter of Forest Wildcat, was owned by Dennis Narlinger and trained by Jeff Bonde. After finishing fourth in her debut at Hollywood Park, Mike's Wildcat won her maiden by 5 3/4 lengths at Monmouth Park on May 30 before rolling to a gate-to-wire victory in the Astoria.

Mike's Wildcat was to ship on Thursday from Bonde's Monmouth Park barn to Ward's Saratoga barn. If all looks well, Ward said Mike's Wildcat will run in the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes on July 24 at Saratoga.

"We're still on for that," said Ward, who will maintain a string of 23 horses at Saratoga. "We arrive in Saratoga on Thursday and she arrives from Monmouth on Thursday so we'll know more about it in a day or two."

Ward said the performance of Mike's Wildcat in the Astoria convinced Oxley to purchase the filly.

"That's the race that put Mr. Oxley over the top," Ward said. "I watched the reruns of that race and was very impressed. [Jose] Santos said he had plenty of horse left."

The Schuylerville, a Grade 2 run at six furlongs, could come up a solid race.

In addition to Mike's Wildcat, others pointing to the race are Holiday Runner, winner of the Three Chimneys Juvenile and Fashion Stakes; Awesome Humor, winner of the Debutante Stakes; Adopted Daughter, winner of the Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows; Appleby Gardens, who won her maiden in a stakes at Woodbine; Crimson and Roses, Freedom's Daughter, Miss Mary Apples, and Oh Fudge.

Busy opening week for Ward

It won't take Ward long to find out what kind of Saratoga he is going to have. In addition to running Mike's Wildcat in the Schuylerville, Ward will run Snow Dance in the $500,000 Diana Handicap on July 27 and Forest Secrets in the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap on July 28.

Snow Dance, who is also a daughter of Forest Wildcat, is coming off pair of fifth-place finishes in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood and the Locust Grove at Churchill Downs.

Ward said Snow Dance had a minor foot bruise coming off the hard Hollywood Park turf course, but thought it had subsided enough to run in the Locust Grove. Ward believes the foot problem is behind Snow Dance and notes that she went 2 for 2 at Saratoga last summer including a victory in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap.

Forest Secrets, who counts the Acorn, Falls City Handicap and Rampart Handicap among her conquests, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill on June 15.

"I look for Forest Secrets to run gangbusters," Ward said. "She had a bad trip last time."

Miss Linda up to speed for Go for Wand

Among the horses Forest Secrets will have to contend with in the Go for Wand is Miss Linda, last year's Spinster winner.

Miss Linda, who began her year with a victory over Forest Secrets in the Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream, last raced on April 6, where she finished third behind the division leading Azeri in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn.

Trainer John Kimmel said Miss Linda developed some filling in her hock just before the Apple Blossom, but it had subsided to the point where Kimmel felt comfortable running her. After the race, it was determined that Miss Linda had a hock infection.

Kimmel said it took two months for "everything to quiet down." Miss Linda began breezing in early June and on Sunday she drilled six furlongs in 1:13.80 over Belmont's main track, the fastest of four works at the distance.

"The more I've been doing with her the better she's been looking," Kimmel said. "The filly has come around very well."

Kimmel said Miss Linda would work seven furlongs on Sunday before shipping to Saratoga.

Others pointing to the Go for Wand are Atelier, Dancethruthedawn, Too Scarlet, Transcendental, and With Ability.