08/08/2002 12:00AM

Day on verge of breaking earnings record


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Pat Day is poised to pass Chris McCarron and become racing's all-time leading jockey in purse money won. Entering Friday's action at Saratoga, Day trailed McCarron by $114,891.

McCarron, who retired from race riding in July, earned $264,351,679. Day entered Friday's card with $264,236,788. Day had five mounts on Friday's card.

Day could very well break the record on Saturday, when he rides With Anticipation in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga and Pass Rush in Saturday night's $600,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park.

"It signifies an incredibly wonderful career," Day said Thursday. "I've been so blessed, blessed to have the talent and ability and opportunities that have enabled me to accomplish what I have. Blessed to have been healthy to be able to participate. I look back to the fact that I came from the mountains of Colorado where there was no racing, a circuitous route to the racetrack where the obvious talent and ability had a chance to come forth."

Day, 48, is the third-winningest jockey in races won. Through Friday, his 8,290 victories trailed only Laffit Pincay Jr. (9,400) and Bill Shoemaker (8,833).

Day, a devout Christian, said he has no plans to retire. He said he feels fine and does not have to battle weight, like many other riders.

"I feel confident and comfortable that this is where the Lord would have me to be," Day said. "I'll ply my trade every day and do the very best that I possibly can."

Gorder looks for first Grade 1

Trainer Kellyn Gorder made quite a first impression last September when the first horse he saddled, Grammarian, won and returned $113.40 at Kentucky Downs.

Saturday, Gorder will seek his first Grade 1 win when he saddles Grammarian in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational.

Gorder has been training only since last fall. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant to Jack Van Berg for four years before moving to Lexington, Ky., where he worked as a horse-breaker on Marshall Naify's 505 Farms. Naify died a few years ago and the farm was taken over by his daughter Marcia.

Gorder said there are 75 horses in training on the farm, a dozen of which he trains. Grammarian, a 4-year-old gelded son of Definite Article, is 2 for 4, including an upset win in last month's Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood.

With a little racing luck, Gorder believes Grammarian could be unbeaten. Gorder said Grammarian was hung wide on both turns while spotting the winner 10 pounds when beaten a length in an entry-level allowance race at Churchill on May 30. In a classified allowance race there on July 7, Grammarian was trapped along the rail until the last sixteenth of a mile.

"This is a big step up," Gorder said. "The field in the Sunset, I wouldn't call it suspect, but it's definitely not this caliber of horse. It's a lot to ask, but when you get invited to a Grade 1 you got take a shot."

A Grade 1 win would cap off a terrific week for Gorder. On Tuesday, his wife, Kerry, gave birth to a baby girl. Emily Kay weighed in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces.

Orientate strictly a sprinter

Earlier this year, when Snow Ridge was rolling through the sprint division, trainer D. Wayne Lukas experimented with his other top sprinter, Orientate. He ran him short. He ran him long. He ran him on dirt. He ran him on turf. But now that Snow Ridge has been retired, Lukas has decided to keep Orientate in sprints, and the 4-year-old colt has emerged as one of the best in the country.

Orientate comes off victories in sprint stakes at Churchill Downs and Calder. He is unbeaten in three races this year on dirt around one turn. And he will go for another on Sunday, when he heads the field in the Grade 2, $200,000 A.G. Vanderbilt at six furlongs.

"When we had two in that division, I tinkered with Orientate, but ultimately we got to common sense," Lukas said, adding he is pointing Orientate to the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "He's a six-furlong or seven-eighths horse."

Orientate will carry top weight of 121 pounds in the Vanderbilt. He will be ridden by Jerry Bailey. Mike Smith, who rode Orientate to a victory in the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 13, has a commitment to ride Azeri in the Clement Hirsch Handicap Sunday at Del Mar.

Orientate's rivals are expected to include Beau's Town, Echo Eddie, Multiple Choice, Say Florida Sandy, Texas Glitter, and Trailthefox, and possibly Late Carson and Wild Summer.

Greely has two for Travers

Medaglia d'Oro will be an overwhelming favorite in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 24, but trainer Beau Greely is going to take two shots at him. He will run Like a Hero, who finished third in Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, and European import Century City, who recently exited quarantine and galloped Thursday morning at Saratoga.

"He's delighted to be out of quarantine," Greely said. "He got out of jail. I think he'll be tough in the Travers."

Century City never has raced on dirt, but he is bred for it. He is by Danzig, and is out of the Alysheba mare Alywow.

Century City has had an eventful introduction to American training. On Wednesday, Greely said, the colt was startled by the activity at the starting gate during training hours. And then Thursday, a blaring horn sounded when jockey Diane Nelson was tossed from a horse while Century City was on the main track. Neither Nelson, the horse she was riding, nor Century City were injured.

"He comes from the countryside in Ireland, then he gets the horn one day, the commotion at the gate the other day," Greely said. "He's probably thinking, 'What is this place?'"

Like a Hero jogged on the main track on Thursday, his first activity since the Haskell. He had a wound on the left side of his neck, which Greely said was from a sarcoma that was removed earlier this week.

* Richard Migliore returned to action Thursday and won with the first mount he rode, guiding Mike's Thunder ($8.10) to victory in the fourth race.