07/12/2004 11:00PM

Choose iffy for Long Branch


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer John Forbes worked Choose a half-mile in the mud at Monmouth Park on Tuesday and is in the process of deciding whether to run the colt in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The Long Branch is Monmouth Park's traditional prep for the $1 million Haskell on Aug. 8.

"If he trains well, we're going to run him," said Forbes.

Choose, who worked in 50 seconds Tuesday, will be looking to rebound. He won his first two starts in fine fashion but inexplicably threw in a clunker in an allowance race on June 27. Choose finished last, beaten 20 1/2 lengths, as the 4-5 favorite.

"We are inclined to throw out the race," said Forbes. "Our theory is that he displaced his palate. If he trains well, we'll make the race. We wouldn't mind finishing second to Lion Heart."

Lion Heart is one of the few confirmed starters for the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch. Lion Heart, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, will likely face Royal Assault, third in the Belmont Stakes, Gadace's Khamseh, and Zakocity.

Doctor in the house

Angelo Chinnici, the staff physician at Monmouth, is one of the first people to respond when a jockey goes down in a spill or a patron suffers an injury or illness.

Chinnici might be the one needing reviving should his horse Gadace's Khamseh win the Long Branch.

Gadace's Khamseh has won 3 of 6 career starts for Philadelphia Park-based trainer Phil Aristone. He tackled stakes company for the first time in his last race, the Floor Show at Delaware Park. Gadace's Khamseh wound up boxed in traffic and finished fourth.

"He was pinned on the rail for six furlongs in his last," said Chinnici. "We probably could have been second if he'd gotten out of that position sooner, but that's racing. He's got a tremendous stride and covers a lot of ground."

The Long Branch will be the first start for Gadace's Khamseh at the track where Chinnici has spent much of his working life.

Chinnici has been a mutuel clerk, waiter, and a busboy while toiling summers at Monmouth on summer recess from school. He became the track doctor in the mid-1980's and was named medical director in 1995.

The medical posting keeps Chinnici close to his great passion: Thoroughbred racing. Chinnici has been a horse owner for 18 years with My Dear Abby, a mare who won more than $300,000, his best runner to date. He has a horse or two periodically but has never won a stakes.

Gadace's Khamseh gave Chinnici a moment to remember when he won his maiden by 15 1/2 lengths at Philadelphia Park in March.

"That maiden win was one of the biggest thrills of my life," Chinnici said. "He just kept opening up on them. It made the ride home very easy."

The maiden win kicked off a three-race winning streak that ended in the Floor Show.

Chinnici, who owns Gadace's Khamseh in partnership with Eli Gindi, can't wait for Saturday, "I'm very excited," he said. "This kind of thing never happens."

Jersey-breds are popular

The racing office struggled to fill races last week as a six-day week depleted the horse inventory.

It came as a pleasant surprise when entries flooded in for Thursday's feature, a $48,500 allowance race for New Jersey-breds going six furlongs.

The race drew 21 entries but only 12 get to run.

Bettor Idol is an interesting contender. He faced open company in his last two outings, a pair of five-furlong turf races at Philadelphia Park.

Down the Shore and Capture the Wolf posted the best last-race Beyer figures.

Down the Shore ran a 75 Beyer Speed Figure in a $25,000 claimer at Philadelphia Park in December.

Capture the Wolf posted a 73 on June 30 at Monmouth when he won a statebred maiden claimer.

* The race office opted not to run any grass races Thursday. The course, denied rain most of the season, needs some recovery time.