07/11/2004 11:00PM

Elliott and Gill part ways as team cools off


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Announced amid great fanfare, the teaming of owner Michael Gill and jockey Stewart Elliott has quietly ended.

Elliott no longer rides first call for Gill at Monmouth Park.

"It's no big deal," Elliott said. "It was a mutual thing. We both decided it would be better. I'm still riding some horses for him."

They seemed like the perfect combination when the meet began on May 29. Gill was the leading owner here last year with a record-setting 62 wins. Elliott, fresh from his Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories on Smarty Jones, was in hot demand as he returned to Monmouth for the first time since 1999.

The pair caught fire immediately. Gill quickly bagged nine wins through June 4, and Elliott topped the rider standings with 11 victories.

Things have changed considerably since then. Elliott replaced agent Ray Lopez with Joe Rosen, and the team stopped clicking.

Gill still leads all Monmouth owners but had picked up only five more wins through Sunday. After the blazing start, Elliott has settled into third in the standings behind Joe Bravo and Eibar Coa.

"We decided it was best for everybody if we didn't ride for anyone exclusively," said Rosen.

Gill has started using a mix of riders. On Sunday, he rode apprentice Rudy Ignacio, Chris DeCarlo, and Chuckie Lopez, Rosen's other client.

Tough day for Monmouth shippers

Valid Video and Burning Roma, two of the most prominent horses stabled at Monmouth, ran in out-of-town stakes on Saturday. Neither had a positive experience.

Valid Video, winner of the Grade 1 King's Bishop last year at Saratoga, headed to Calder for the Grade 3, $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, where he finished sixth.

"The heat index was 105," said jockey Joe Bravo. "It really got to a lot of horses. That might have been it. The real Valid Video didn't show up. It just wasn't his day. That wasn't the horse I know."

Burning Roma had a shorter trip over to Belmont Park for the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap at one mile on the turf.

Burning Roma, a multiple stakes winner, including the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in 2002, was the 3-1 third choice in the betting. He sat well positioned with the pacesetters but never made a serious run, and also finished sixth.

"He looked terrible on the course," said trainer Heather Giglio. "It didn't look like he liked it at all."

Giglio said the 6-year-old came out of the race in good shape and will be pointed toward Monmouth's Grade 3, $100,000 Oceanport Handicap on Aug. 8.

Every filly in feature won last out

It is hard to handicap a race where everyone was a winner last time out.

That situation comes up Wednesday at Monmouth Park in the $39,000 allowance race for 2-year-old fillies. All six runners in the 5 1/2-furlong race arrive fresh from their maiden win.

"It's a tough race from a handicapper's point of view," said Anthony Sciametta, who trains Todd Pletcher's Monmouth division. "You have a bunch of 2-year-old fillies all with speed. And it looks like all of them are pretty talented."

Pletcher will be represented by Elke, who makes her third career start. Elke, a $200,000 purchase by the Anstu Stables in March at the Ocala 2-year-olds in training sale, debuted at Belmont Park on May 27. She had a sluggish start and gamely battled for second, earning a 58 Beyer Figure.

Pletcher then sent her to Monmouth, where she won her maiden on June 17, getting a 54 Beyer in a maiden special weight race.

"She is training very well right now," said Sciametta. "Chuckie [Lopez] has been over here to breeze her both times, and he said she breezed real well."

The two four-furlong works were a bullet drill in 48.20 seconds on June 29, and a 49.80-second effort on July 7.

"Chuckie said the second work was better than the first even though the time was a little slower," said Sciametta. "He said the work was better for her."

Top Beyer honors in the field go to By Grace Alone, who got a 71 for her win for trainer Tim Hills on July 1 at Monmouth for a $32,000 tag.

Malibu Sun, Queen Hypolita, Patty Girl, and Northern Babe complete the field.