06/05/2006 11:00PM

Deputy Glitters solid in last work

Sacred Light finishes up an eventful six-furlong breeze in 1:16.42 Tuesday morning at Belmont. The drill also was delayed after he threw a shoe and had to be reshod on all four feet.

ELMONT, N.Y. - After an unscheduled 15-day vacation, trainer Tom Albertrani was back at work Tuesday, overseeing the final preparations of Deputy Glitters for Saturday's $1 million .

Albertrani, who on May 20 won the Preakness with Bernardini, was forced to serve a 15-day suspension from May 22 through Monday after one of his horses tested positive for the banned tranquilizer acepromazine on April 1. Albertrani spent three days in the Bahamas with his wife, Fonda, and their daughters, Teal and Noelle.

"I haven't had a family outing in years, so it was nice in a way, but under the circumstances you don't want to spend your days away like that," Albertrani said.

With rain in the forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday, Albertrani moved up by one day Deputy Glitters's final workout. Under exercise Simon Harris, Deputy Glitters worked a solid five furlongs in 59.82 seconds, the fifth-fastest of 41 works at the distance over a fast Belmont main track. Daily Racing Form caught the final three furlongs of the work in 35.47 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.02.

"Super work," Albertrani said. "I had him 12 [second furlongs] all the way. He's always been a good work horse; you never really have to ask him to do much. When he's doing good he'll just take a hold of the bit and all you need to do is sit still on him. Like today, he was doing that pretty much on his own. Simon was just sitting on him, which was a good sign."

Deputy Glitters, who won the Tampa Bay Derby over probable Belmont Stakes favorite Bluegrass Cat, finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby. Albertrani said Deputy Glitters was farther back than he would have preferred in the Derby, and the wide trip he had may have made the difference between finishing fourth and eighth.

Not a smooth morning for Sacred Light

Just as Deputy Glitters was about to start his work, Sacred Light was finishing his, a six-furlong move timed in 1:16.42 that did not go without a few hitches.

First, trainer David Hofmans was hoping to work at 7:30 a.m. with jockey Jose Espinoza, but Sacred Light tore off his right hind shoe late Monday afternoon and was re-shod on all four feet Tuesday morning. Espinoza was unable to work Sacred Light, so regular exercise rider Martin de Rubin was up.

Working immediately after the renovation break, Sacred Light encountered some traffic trouble during the move, as two horses who were working three furlongs broke off just in front of him. De Rubin had to wait on those horses and Sacred Light took some dirt in his face during the work. Clockers did credit Sacred Light with a final quarter in 24.40 seconds.

"The best part of the work was he was finishing down the lane and he galloped out strong," said Hofmans, who won the 1997 Belmont with Touch Gold. "I didn't care about the time, I just wanted him to get around that turn and I wanted him finishing a little bit, and that's about the way he works, so it was good. He looks like he needed the work. He was blowing pretty good."

Sacred Light, a son of Holy Bull, has yet to finish first in a race. He was put up to first by the stewards in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar last summer. His best race was a second-place finish behind Brother Derek in the Santa Catalina.

Hofmans said he and owner John Amerman decided to come to the Belmont when Bernardini was declared from the race.

Tumultuous Triple Crown for Prado

Earlier this year, jockey Edgar Prado had his choice of several of the nation's leading 3-year-olds. After test-driving the likes of First Samurai, Keyed Entry, and Strong Contender, Prado cast his lot for the Kentucky Derby with Barbaro, who rewarded his judgment with a runaway victory.

Two weeks later, however, Barbaro suffered a career-ending injury in the Preakness Stakes.

On Saturday, Prado will try to capture the Belmont Stakes with Deputy Glitters, whom he has never ridden. Deputy Glitters was eighth in the Derby under jockey Jose Lezcano, who rode Deputy Glitters to his biggest victory, in the Tampa Bay Derby.

In a strange twist, Prado will be joining forces in the Belmont with Albertrani, who trains Deputy Glitters, and also trains Bernardini, who won the Preakness in which Barbaro was injured. Bernardini is skipping the Belmont.

"It's been a crazy year so far, and we're only in June," Prado said this week in the Belmont Park stable area.

Platinum Couple to run in blinkers

Before Tuesday, trainer Joe Lostritto said he was leaning toward not running Platinum Couple in the Belmont. After Platinum Couple worked three furlongs in 37.82 seconds while equipped with blinkers, Lostritto said he is now 99-percent sure Platinum Couple will run in the race.

Lostritto said exercise rider Marco Munoz told him the horse was more focused in his breeze Tuesday than he had been before. Lostritto had Platinum Couple galloping in blinkers for the last week.

"The blinkers made a big difference," Lostritto said.

Paine experienced when it comes to distance

There's a question whether High Finance, who has yet to run beyond a mile, can stretch out to 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont Stakes. There's no question whether his exercise rider can get the distance.

Rodney Paine, a 38-year-old native of Australia who works for trainer Rick Violette Jr., always has been a competitive runner, but only in recent years has he taken up long-distance running. He entered the New York Marathon in 2004 and finished 225th from among more than 36,000 contestants - and that was after spending a week in Las Vegas, where his training was limited to bending his arm in a pub.

That was Paine's first marathon, and he said he was surprised he did so well.

"It was a shock to me. It was a shock to everyone," Paine said Tuesday morning. "I had run in some 10K's in Australia, but never a marathon."

Paine completed the 26.2-mile distance in 2:50 in 2004. This spring, Paine ran the Boston Marathon in 2:46.

Keyed Entry possible for Woody Stephens

Keyed Entry, who finished last in the Kentucky Derby after setting the early pace, worked four furlongs in 48.24 seconds on Tuesday over Belmont's main track. While pleased with the move, trainer Todd Pletcher said he was still undecided whether Keyed Entry would run in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Pletcher said he isn't sure he wants to run Keyed Entry against monster sprinters Too Much Bling and Songster going seven furlongs in his first start since the Derby.

"With those two horses in there you want to be dead on," Pletcher said. "At seven furlongs he's as good as anybody, but I have to decide if five weeks after running a mile and a quarter it makes sense to run with two very good sprinters."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman

Belmont contenders

Horses pointing for the 138th Belmont at Belmont Park on June 10.

Bluegrass CatT. PletcherJ. Velazquez2nd, Ky. Derby
Bob and JohnB. BaffertG. Gomez17th, Ky. Derby
Deputy GlittersT. AlbertraniE. Prado8th, Ky. Derby
Double GaloreM. ChoM. Luzzi1st, Hol maiden
Hemingway's KeyN. ZitoJ. Rose3rd, Preakness
High FinanceR. VioletteE. Coa1st, Bel allowance
JazilK. McLaughlinF. Jara4th*, Ky. Derby
Oh So AwesomeJ. JerkensM. Smith3rd, Match the Hatch
Platinum CoupleJ. LostrittoJ. Espinoza6th, Preakness
Sacred LightD. HofmansV. Espinoza2nd, CD allowance
SteppenwolferD. PeitzR. Albarado3rd, Ky. Derby
SunriverT. PletcherR. Bejarano1st, Peter Pan

* - Dead heat