08/08/2005 12:00AM

Dutrow considering rabbit for rematch

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Jockey Jerry Bailey waits on the track after being head-butted by his fourth-race mount, Performing Diva, in the post parade. He received stitches ontrack and will get X-rays.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - If Whitney one-two finishers Commentator and Saint Liam meet again in next month's Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park, Richard Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Saint Liam, promises to have something waiting for Commentator: a rabbit.

"I should have nominated a speed horse [to the Whitney]," Dutrow said. "I'll do it the next time. I'll just put something in there to make the pace honest."

He had better be a fast rabbit. Commentator went gate to wire in the Whitney and ran solid fractions in doing so. Commentator's six-furlong split of 1:09.76 was the second-fastest time posted at that distance this meet. Commentator had enough to hold off Saint Liam, who had stalked from second, to win by a neck. Both horses earned a 123 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Those guys play for real," said Nick Zito, the trainer of Commentator. "They forgot about 'My horse can beat your horse.' But you can't tell he or she what to do with their property. We're not handing over a trophy to anybody."

Both horses appeared to come out of the race well. The $500,000 Woodward, run on Sept. 10, is a one-turn 1 1/8-mile race. Commentator is undefeated around one turn. Saint Liam came within a neck of upsetting Ghostzapper in last year's Woodward.

Forest Danger out of Vanderbilt

After working Forest Danger on Monday morning, trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt will not run in Saturday's Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, where he would have been the 120-pound highweight.

Forest Danger, who has not run since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile Handicap on May 30, worked five furlongs in 1:02.06, the 10th-fastest of 27 works at the distance on the main track.

"He's a work or two away from being ready," said Pletcher, who won the Vanderbilt last year with Speightstown. "He got a little tired at the end of the work, so we will wait for the Forego. He worked well, but he's not quite tight."

The Grade 1 Forego will be run here Sept. 3.

Forest Danger, who won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April at Aqueduct, came out of the Metropolitan with a sore muscle.

Personal Ensign likely for Ashado

Pletcher said he is leaning toward running Ashado in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26. Ashado was a 9 1/2-length winner in the Grade 1 Go for Wand here July 31. Immediately after the Go for Wand, Pletcher said he would point Ashado to the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont Park on Sept. 11.

Pletcher said the Personal Ensign has now become an option because of how well Ashado has bounced out of the Go for Wand.

"If she continues to train like this, we'll go in the Personal Ensign," Pletcher said.

Afleet Alex up to three a day

With Roman Ruler having arrived at Saratoga following his victory in Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, the top contenders for the Travers Stakes are on the grounds. Division leader Afleet Alex was to run in both the Haskell and Travers, and though he is sidelined with a hairline fracture to his left front cannon bone, he, too, is at Saratoga, where he is walking daily.

Afleet Alex has been walking twice a day since surgery last month, and was to increase his activity to three times per day beginning Tuesday, trainer Tim Ritchey said Monday morning at Saratoga. Ritchey said Afleet Alex was walking for a half-hour at 5:15 each morning and 3:30 each afternoon, and would now add a 9:30 a.m. session as well.

"It helps him maintain his fitness, and helps the bone heal up," Ritchey said.

Ritchey said he is still hoping Afleet Alex can make the Breeders' Cup Classic, but admitted there is no margin for error.

"It is ambitious? Yes. Is it out of the question? No," Ritchey said. "I need to get one prep into him, but with his versatility it could be at six furlongs, seven furlongs, a mile and a sixteenth, or even a turf race. I don't want to bring him back at a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter."

Ritchey said Afleet Alex would likely head to Gulfstream Park this winter.

Tumultuous week for Zito

Nick Zito's roller-coaster week continued on Monday, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the morning, then had Dwango, the 3-5 favorite in the seventh race, scratched just before post time after he failed to warm up to the satisfaction of jockey Javier Castellano.

The race was named in honor of Zito's Hall of Fame induction.

"I guess this shows the game is on the level," Zito said. "I'm going to go get an aspirin."

Said Castellano, "I had never ridden him before, so I thought, maybe this is him. I took an extra two minutes to warm him up, but he didn't get better. It was his left stifle."

This was the second Zito runner scratched at the gate this meet. Nine days earlier, Noble Causeway was scratched by Jerry Bailey after warming up for the Jim Dandy Stakes.

Sense of Style retired

Sense of Style, who won the Grade 2 Spinaway at Saratoga and Grade 1 Matron at Belmont last year, has been retired following her last-place finish in Saturday's Grade 1 Test.

Patrick Biancone, Sense of Style's trainer, said there was nothing physically wrong with the 3-year-old filly, who is owned by Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

"She didn't bleed or anything; there was no excuse," Biancone said of Sense of Style's effort in the Test. "She is one of those fillies that had had enough. She could be a great broodmare, and we didn't need to run her down."

Sense of Style, a daughter of Thunder Gulch, lost three starts this year, following surgery last year to remove an ankle chip.

Biancone said that in a few days, Sense of Style will leave for Ashford Stud in Kentucky. Breeding plans have not been announced.

Sense of Style retires with 3 wins from 8 starts and earnings of $407,250.

Funny Cide works under new rider

Simon Harris, an exercise rider who works for John Terranova and Bob Baffert, has been aboard Funny Cide for his last two workouts. That included a half-mile move Sunday in 47.87 seconds over Saratoga's main track.

"He's done everything nice so far," Harris said. "I try to get him to go as easy and steady as I can. He leaves there strong and I try to talk him out of it early. After an eighth of a mile he relaxes for me. The talent's there - you never lose talent, and he's got it."

Funny Cide has not run since his sixth-place finish in the Suburban Handicap on July 2.

"Simon is breezing him because he's light and strong," said Robin Smullen, the assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg and the regular exercise rider for Funny Cide.

* Meteor Storm, scheduled to run in Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, worked five furlongs Monday in 1:00.42 on the main track with Castellano aboard.

* Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly, the second-place finisher in the Coaching Club American Oaks, had her first work since then when she went six furlongs in 1:14.89 Monday on the Oklahoma training track.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson and Jay Privman