05/23/2005 11:00PM

Don't Get Mad staying fit


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Don't Get Mad is scheduled for a half-mile breeze after the Thursday card at Churchill Downs and remains an outside possibility for the June 11 Belmont Stakes, trainer Ron Ellis said Tuesday from California.

The training schedule of Don't Get Mad, fourth-place finisher in the

May 7 Kentucky Derby, was revised because of a quarantine order. Three barns at Churchill are operating under quarantine guidelines because of a recent equine herpes virus outbreak. Don't Get Mad, the only horse Ellis has at Churchill, tested negative for the virus.

"We've really only missed three days of training, although it did affect our work schedule with him," he said.

Gary Stevens, who rode Don't Get Mad to a seven-length triumph in the April 30 Derby Trial a week before the Derby, will be aboard for the work. Quarantined horses currently are training at different times than the rest of the horse population at Churchill, and the allotted training time Thursday is after the 10-race card. The quarantine sanctions will be in place through at least June 3.

Ellis said Don't Get Mad, owned by B. Wayne Hughes, likely will run next in the $200,000 Northern Dancer Handicap on the Stephen Foster undercard June 18 at Churchill, although he is not ruling out the Belmont Stakes, especially in light of its prospective small field. Although the Derby and Preakness drew capacity fields, the Belmont appears to be coming up light.

"The Belmont would have been a bigger consideration if we didn't have this problem with the quarantine," said Ellis. "Making the Belmont probably isn't feasible, but we'll see what happens over the next week and a half or so."

Ellis said he would not be on hand for the Thursday work but that he most likely would travel to Kentucky for the colt's next workout.

"Thursday will be something easy, something like a half in 50 [seconds]," he said.

America Alive's next undecided

Trainer Neil Howard said he is "at a crossroads" with what to do with America Alive, upset winner of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Derby undercard.

Howard said the Louisville Handicap, to be run here Monday, is "an outside possibility," but that he is more inclined to run America Alive in one of three other races: the June 11 Manhattan at Belmont, the June 18 Opening Verse at Churchill, or the July 4 Firecracker at Churchill.

Meanwhile, Howard said Alumni Hall came out of his last-place finish in the Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico last Saturday in good order. Alumni Hall was the Schaefer favorite off back-to-back wins at Keeneland, ending with the Ben Ali Stakes.

* Stevens will ride at Belmont Park all weekend. He's going there mainly to ride Chekhov in the Peter Pan on Saturday and Pomeroy in the Met Mile on Monday. Both horses are trained by Patrick Biancone.

* Because racing will be held here Monday, Memorial Day, Churchill will be dark the following Wednesday.