08/25/2005 12:00AM

Castellano feels extra motivation


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Javier Castellano admitted to being a little hurt when he heard that he could possibly be replaced as the rider of Bellamy Road had the connections of that horse opted to run in Saturday's King's Bishop rather than the Travers.

But now that he has retained the mount for Saturday's $1 million Travers, Castellano said he is motivated to prove owner George Steinbrenner and trainer Nick Zito right in their decision to keep him.

"I'm human and I felt bad, because you give 100 percent to the horse, you want to ride that kind of horse, but when they put out that position - King's Bishop, Jerry Bailey/Travers, Castellano - I crossed my fingers and prayed hoping they decide the Travers and I keep the mount," Castellano said. "Maybe we do something good. There's a little bit more motivation."

For Zito's part, he said he never gave much thought about replacing Castellano.

"I don't think Javier did anything wrong to be honest with you," Zito said. "Before the Derby, he was 2 for 2 on him."

The first time Castellano rode Bellamy Road was on March 12, when Bellamy Road won a one-mile allowance race off a 154-day layoff.

"He was so sharp," Castellano recalled. "He's so quick out of the gate. He did it so easy the whole way. I asked him a little bit coming to the eighth pole, he opened up himself, he galloped out himself. That day we find out he can go a distance."

Castellano rode Bellamy Road in the Wood Memorial and both put on a show. Inside the eighth pole, with Bellamy Road on his way to a 17 1/2-length victory, Castellano stood up in the irons, waved his whip and blew a kiss to the crowd.

"The Wood was an impressive performance," Castellano said. "I said, 'Wow, I found my Derby horse.' That's why I jumped up before the wire and kissed the people."

Castellano said that in the Kentucky Derby his horse felt good during the running of the race, but between the three-eighths pole and quarter pole, he said, "I don't have horse."

As it turned out, Bellamy Road injured a splint bone. The Travers, at 1 1/4 miles, will be Bellamy Road's first start since the Derby. Castellano said he is putting his faith in Zito and his staff that the horse is ready.

"The exercise rider says he's fit enough," Castellano said, referring to Carlos Correa. "I believe him because he used to be a jockey and he gallops that horse every day. I believe Nick, I believe the team. They say he's fit to go to that race, and that's why they made that decision."

Scrappy T returns to work tab

Scrappy T, unraced since finishing second in the Preakness Stakes, breezed four furlongs in 48.48 seconds Thursday morning over Saratoga's main track. It was Scrappy T's first workout since July 5.

"He went super today," said Robbie Bailes, who trains Scrappy T. "It's his best work probably since before the Preakness."

Bailes said he told the horse's owner, Marshall Dowell, that "I felt like I won a couple of races today.

"I'll extend him a little bit over the next couple of weeks. After the next two works I'll pick a spot for him.''

Bailes said that Scrappy T could make his next start in the $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 11.

"It's probably going to be really close," he said. "I'll keep all the options open. The last 10 or 12 days he's been really getting back to himself."

Bailes credited Dr. Steve Allday with pinpointing a muscle problem in Scrappy T's hind end.

"He's done a complete turnaround over the last week or so," Bailes said.

Another late equipment change

For the third time this meet, a horse getting a blinker change that wasn't listed on the overnight won a race. Thursday, it was Nolan's Cat ($8), who won a maiden race wearing blinkers for the first time. The change was not listed on the overnight and was made public only when the late changes were announced.

Earlier in the meet, Embraceable You ($6.70) and Royal Sanction ($33.20) won races getting blinkers added. Those changes were not printed on the overnight and were announced only with the late changes. There have been at least two instances in which first-time starters won wearing blinkers. Racing officials here do not require trainers to list blinkers on a first-time starter.

There were at least five instances from Aug. 8 to Aug. 18 in which horses getting a blinker change were not listed on the overnight. Four of those five finished second or third.

The stewards said they would look into this rash of late changes, but indicated there was not much they could do about it.

My Trusty Cat tries Ballerina again

My Trusty Cat, who came within a head of winning last year's Grade 1 Ballerina, heads a seven-horse field entered for Sunday's 27th renewal of the seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

My Trusty Cat won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff earlier this year and was beaten a head in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth on Aug. 7. Castellano will ride My Trusty Cat from post 6.

Happy Ticket ships in from Louisiana for trainer Andrew Leggio. Happy Ticket won her first nine career starts before getting beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Madcap Escapade in the Princess Rooney Handicap on July 10. John Velazquez takes off Forest Music, whom he rode to victory in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss, to ride Happy Ticket.

Jerry Bailey picks up the mount on Forest Music, who drew the outside post. Also entered were Vision of Beauty, Molto Vita, Bank Audit, and Pleasant Home.

Nothing but Fun takes Victory Ride

Nothing but Fun overcame her lack of experience with an abundance of talent and a perfect trip, rallying from off a fast pace to remain undefeated with a 1 1/2-length victory over a game Maddalena in Thursday's $75,000 Victory Ride Stakes.

Making only the third start of her career and her stakes debut, Nothing but Fun rated off an early duel between graded stakes winners Maddalena and Megascape, who dueled through fractions of 22.16 and 44.85 seconds for the opening quarter- and half-mile of the six-furlong Victory Ride. Maddalena emerged from that battle with a clear lead in early stretch but could not contain Nothing but Fun, who finished best of all after being taken wide by Migliore into the stretch.

Reunited, the 4-5 favorite coming off a pair of easy allowance wins, raced closest to the hot pace and finished third, a half-length behind Maddalena.

Nothing but Fun, a daughter of Dixie Union owned by Barry K. Schwartz, former chairman and CEO of the New York Racing Association, covered six furlongs in 1:09.86 and paid $12.60.

"The race set up the way we expected," said winning trainer Mike Hushion. "I don't think six furlongs is her best distance, and I can't wait to get her going a little further.

"She's also got Theatrical on the dam side, so it gives us a lot of options. She's always been the high hopes filly in the barn. We'll shop around before deciding on her next stop, but it will be something longer for sure."

Stevens sits for a day

Gary Stevens, who complained of a wrenched back after being unseated from his mount North East Storm before Wednesday's third race, took off his mounts on Thursday. He was expected to ride on Friday, when he had three scheduled mounts.

"He's just a little sore today," Stevens's agent, Craig O'Bryan, said Thursday. "He'll be ready to go."

Among his six scheduled mounts on Saturday are favored Henny Hughes in the Grade 1 Hopeful, and longshot Chekhov in the Travers.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch