08/05/2001 12:00AM

Congaree out for the year


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Congaree, who finished a well-beaten third as the 2-5 favorite in Saturday's Jim Dandy, came out of the race with a wrenched right knee and will be out for the rest of the year, trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday.

"When we got back to the barn, we noticed he was a little off in his right knee," Baffert said Sunday from Monmouth Park where he was to saddle Point Given in the Haskell Invitational. "We had it X-rayed and it came back negative. He just wrenched it. That was the same knee he had problems with last year. He looked better this morning.

"We're going to give him the rest of the year off," Baffert continued. "We don't want to take any chances with him and the Stonerside people are all about what's best for the horse. If we go on with him, something really bad could happen. We want to have a nice horse for next year. It's disappointing to end the year like this, but we have to do what's best for the horse."

Congaree, a son of Arazi, won the Grade 1 Swaps Stakes and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial this year. He finished third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

In the Jim Dandy, Congaree stalked the front-running Free of Love before moving past him at the five-furlong pole. But Congaree could not clear Free of Love and surrendered the lead approaching the quarter pole. He was beaten 6 1/4 lengths by Scorpion, who edged Free of Love by one-half length.

Congaree is scheduled to ship to Stonerside Farm in Kentucky on Friday and will have another set of X-rays taken.

"We could have run in 60 days" Baffert said. "At that point, he won't be ready for the Breeders' Cup. We think it's best to give him the time off."

His injury means the top three finishers from the Kentucky Derby, Monarchos, Invisible Ink and Congaree, all will not race again this year.

Meanwhile, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Jim Dandy winner Scorpion came out of the race in good order and will be pointed to the $1 million Travers on Aug. 25. He may need a new rider as Jerry Bailey is expected to ride E Dubai, winner of the Dwyer Stakes, in the Travers. Lukas said he would offer Bailey the mount first.

Trainer Rick Violette is leaning against running Jim Dandy runner-up Free of Love in the Travers. He said the horse would have to pick up 12 pounds while running back in three weeks. Violette said he is leaning toward running Free of Love in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 3.

Trainer Nick Zito said A P Valentine, the fourth-place finisher in the Jim Dandy, would come back in the Travers. Zito felt the horse was slipping and sliding on the Saratoga main track. Zito said either Pat Day or John Velazquez would replace Victor Espinoza aboard A P Valentine in the Travers.