04/04/2007 11:00PM

Corinthian must minimize prerace jitters


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Jimmy Jerkens will probably be a nervous wreck for the six hours leading up to Saturday's $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct. He hopes his horse Corinthian will not be.

For if Corinthian can handle being in Aqueduct's security barn he will have a better chance at handling his competition in the Grade 3 Excelsior as he attempts to continue his ascension in the handicap division. Horses competing at New York Racing Association tracks must report to a security barn six hours prior to their race.

Corinthian, who comes off a victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, is known to be high-strung. Last summer at Saratoga, he couldn't handle the security barn there and ran poorly as the 3-5 favorite in a second-level allowance race. Jerkens said Corinthian has matured since then, but he is still concerned.

"He still gets riled up, he's still studdish as hell,'' Jerkens said. "This receiving barn is going to really test us, test him. There's no way to prepare for it either. You can't stick him in the barn over there. In Florida we shipped him down [from Palm Meadows to Gulfstream] a week before; we acted like he was running. We kept him there a couple of hours, we schooled him and everything.''

If he doesn't leave his race in the security barn, Corinthian will be the one to beat in the Excelsior. He has finished first in five of his seven career starts, but was disqualified from first in the 2006 Fountain of Youth. Jerkens said Corinthian is a stronger horse this year, and, from a physical standpoint, has handled his races well.

"A horse like him you'd like to keep some kind of a rhythm going,'' Jerkens said. "He's older, he's holding his flesh better, he's stronger.''

Corinthian, who breaks from the rail under Javier Castellano, figures to stalk the speedy Accountforthegold, who breaks from post 2. Not far behind that duo will be Magna Graduate, who comes off a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Razorback BC Handicap at Oaklawn. Trainer Todd Pletcher removed the blinkers from Magna Graduate's equipment for that race.

"Blinkers off seemed to settle him nicely," Pletcher said. "We got the kind of race we were looking for. I think the horse is doing as well as he's ever done.''

John Velazquez will ride Magna Graduate from post 3.

Completing the field are Evening Attire, the 9-year-old gelding who won the Stymie Handicap last out, his stablemate Naughty New Yorker, and Happy Hunting.

Bay Shore: Les Grands Trois lightly raced

Les Grands Trois is not as seasoned as stakes winners Bill Place and Wollaston Bay, but he still looms the horse to beat in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

A son of Officer, Les Grands Trois was a most impressive nine-length winner first time out last summer at Belmont Park. He emerged from that race with sore shins and needed a chip removed from an ankle. He came back with a solid off-the-pace victory in a first-level allowance race Santa Anita.

Les Grands Trois, trained by Bobby Frankel, looks like he could get a similar stalking trip behind Bill Place and Wollaston Bay, who traded sprint stakes victories during the winter over the inner track. Les Grands Trois will break from post 3 under David Flores. Frankel also entered In the Woods with Flores named, but plans to scratch that horse.

Bill Place, who won the Jimmy Winkfield, was compromised by a poor start when breaking from the rail in the Fred "Cappy'' Capossela Stakes. Wollaston Bay returns to sprinting after a seventh-place finish in the Gotham around two turns.

Pass the Punch, Indian Camp, and Hobbitontherocks complete the field.

Successful Affair well-suited for marathon

Successful Affair, who has carved a niche as a marathon specialist, should appreciate the 1o3/4 miles of Saturday's $75,000 Pleasant Colony Stakes. Already in his career, Successful Career has won races at 1 1/2 miles, 1 5/8 miles, and 2 miles.

Successful Affair must tote co-high weight of 126 pounds in the Pleasant Colony as he and Blue Mon will concede 6 to 8 pounds to the rest of the field. Successful Affair, trained by Gary Contessa, will be coupled with Malibu Moonshine, who finished second behind Evening Attire in the Stymie.

Mike Luzzi rides Successful Affair while Channing Hill pilots Malibu Moonshine.