08/28/2002 11:00PM

Explicit trains well on turf for Forego on dirt

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The Grade 1 Forego Handicap has been decided on the dirt since its inception in 1980 and will be run over the main track once again on Sunday. So why would trainer Ian Jory work Explicit five furlongs on the turf in his final prep for the most important dirt race of his career?

"The main track has been a little funny since taking all that rain on Travers Day," said Jory, who has had Explicit bedded down in old friend Elliott Walden's barn since their arrival from Southern California last week. "And my horse has been running down a bit galloping over it the last few days. So I decided to work him over the turf course at Oklahoma instead of on the dirt. He broke his maiden on the grass and handles it just fine."

Explicit worked four furlongs in 47.56 seconds on Wednesday and Jory said he is coming up to Sunday's $250,000 Forego on top of his game.

"I'm surprised this horse has been so underrated all year," said Jory. "He's virtually unbeaten since the spring, has run some big numbers, and is coming off a win in the True North Handicap. We pointed for the Forego ever since the True North, although it was tough to take him out of training when he was so sharp. But the plan all along was to go from the True North to the Forego and the Breeders' Cup. We're going to retire him at the end of this season and hopefully he'll be able to go out

on top."

Explicit contested all the pace before edging to a one-length victory over Entepreneur in the Grade 2 True North on June 8. The competition will be decidedly tougher and the pace probably quicker when he takes on Orientate and reigning Eclipse champion Squirtle Squirt in the Forego. Explicit will carry 119 pounds in the Forego, three fewer than the co-highweights.

"He used to be strictly a speedball who wanted to tear off all the time," said Jory who trains Explicit for owner-breeders Sonja and Marvin Malmuth. "But now that he's matured his tendency is to settle down and I'd love to be drawn outside Orientate and Squirtle Squirt so he can be in a stalking position."

Things turning for Terranovas

This year's Saratoga meet was turning out to be memorable one for all the wrong reasons for trainer John Terranova and his wife and assistant, Tonja. A career-ending injury to their best 2-year-old, Stature, on Aug. 17 was followed hours later by a stumbling start by Gander in which he unseated his rider and ran loose in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup.

But, the Terranovas' fortunes may be taking a turn for the better. On Wednesday, their promising 3-year-old This Guns for Hire won an entry-level allowance race. And, on Thursday their top sprinter, Silky Sweep, worked three furlongs in 36.47 seconds over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Forego.

In a race that's shaping up to be full of speed, Silky Sweep's late kick may help pull an upset and give the Terranovas their first Grade 1 victory.

"We're very confident going in," Tonja Terranova said.

Silky Sweep has not run since May 11 when he finished a fast-closing second behind Left Bank in the Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont. He colicked three days after the race and spent a few days in the New Jersey Equine Clinic. The Terranovas took their time bringing him back and when they knew they couldn't make the Alfred G. Vanderbilt, they decided to point for the Forego.

At 114 pounds, Silky Sweep will be getting eight pounds from Squirtle Squirt and Orientate. Also, Richard Migliore will ride Silky Sweep again, which Tonja Terranova sees as a positive. "He's not an easy horse to ride, and Richie panicked a little last time, but he didn't realize what an explosive kick he had," she said. "Now Richie knows what he's sitting on. I just hope the race sets up for him and he's running them down at the end."

Meanwhile, Terranova said This Guns for Hire came out of his win a little tired, but he will be nominated to both the Jerome Handicap at Belmont and the Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands on Oct. 4.

Harlan's Holiday drills for Pennsylvania Derby

Harlan's Holiday completed his preparations on Thursday for Monday's $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby with a five-furlong workout in 1:04.07 over the Oklahoma training track. It was the second-fastest of six moves at the distance.

Track clockers caught Harlan's Holiday in fractions of 13.03 seconds, 26.06, 38.62, and he was timed galloping out six furlongs in 1:19.40

Jockey Edgar Prado, who rode Harlan's Holiday to victories in the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, was aboard for the workout. It was Prado's first time on Harlan's Holiday since he rode him to a fourth-place finish in the Preakness, the colt's last start.

"He knows the horse," said Todd Pletcher, who took over the training of Harlan's Holiday in early June. "I wanted him to have a little feel for him. I wanted to know how he felt he was doing because I felt like he was doing well. He was happy with him; he thought he worked well and said he felt good. He commented that he felt the horse broadened out a little bit, gotten stronger, which you'd expect a maturing 3-year-old to do."

Harlan's Holiday will van to Philadelphia Park the morning of the race.

Waiting to go long

The trainers of top juvenile prospects Risky Cat and Silver Squire have decided to keep them out of Saturday's Grade 1 Hopeful in favor of longer races. The Hopeful is at seven furlongs.

Ken McPeek will point Risky Cat to River Downs's Cradle Stakes on Monday, and John Kimmel said Belmont Park's one-mile Futurity is likely next on the agenda for Silver Squire.

Risky Cat has not started since easily defeating maiden company at Churchill Downs on June 8.

"The Cradle is the same money as the Hopeful [$200,000], but the competition figures to be about 10 lengths easier," said McPeek. "I want to get a two-turn race into this horse and it also gives me a chance to go back and defend my title since we won the race last year with Harlan's Holiday."

Silver Squire has crossed the finish line first in both his starts, although he was the victim of a controversial disqualification after apparently defeating first-level allowance company handily in his last race.

"The Hopeful comes back a little too quick to stretch him out," said Kimmel, "although it looks like he'll handle the added distance, and the Futurity seems like a nice progression for him."

Kimmel also said that he is pointing Miss Linda to the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont on Sept. 14 after passing the Personal Ensign Handicap here with her last week. "Richie [Migliore] didn't like the way she felt over the Oklahoma racetrack when we worked her for the Personal Ensign," said Kimmel. "So I took her over to the main track [Tuesday] where she worked excellent" - five furlongs in 1:00 - "and galloped out very strong. Richie said he could feel a big difference. So we're on target for the Ruffian."

Saranac, not Penn Derby for Quest Star

After giving some thought to running Quest Star in the Pennsylvania Derby, trainer Elliott Walden has decided to stay here and will saddle Quest Star in Monday's $100,000 Saranac Stakes, at 1 3/16 miles on turf. On Thursday, Quest Star blew out three furlongs in 38.12 seconds over the Oklahoma training track.

As a son of Broad Brush out of a dam who is a half-sister to Mariah's Storm - the dam of Giant's Causeway - Quest Star is bred to be a good horse. But, Walden wasn't sure if Quest Star's victory in the Hall of Fame was as much a product of his horse improving or other horses, such as Patrol, regressing. "It was a sloppy race," Walden said. "I will say this, I've always liked that horse and I feel like we did change tactics a little bit; we took him back and he's responded the last two races. Having said that, I think he's the type of horse that could move forward."

Walden believes he will find out how much Quest Star has improved when he faces Miesque's Approval in the Saranac. Miesque's Approval beat Quest Star by 5 1/2 lengths in the Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware on July 21.

- additional reporting by David Grening