07/06/2007 12:00AM

Family ties draw Chavez back to New York


ELMONT, N.Y. - After trying to resuscitate his career in Florida, New Jersey, and then California, Jorge Chavez is coming home to New York.

Chavez, who dominated the New York Racing Association circuit in the 1990s, will return to New York next weekend, where he will ride the final seven days of the Belmont summer meet and all of Saratoga.

Chavez has spent the last 11 months in Southern California, and though he had at one time planned to relocate there permanently, it was his family's wishes that he return to New York.

"My daughters have been missing me a lot back home, and my wife would visit sometimes, but it's not the same," Chavez said Friday from Southern California. "I was winning races, I could not complain about that. A lot of people want me to stay, but I got to go with the family."

Since returning from a broken collarbone he suffered on closing day of the Tropical-at-Calder meet in early January 2006, Chavez rode for two months at Monmouth Park before moving to Southern California midway through the Del Mar meet.

After winning with just 9 of his first 101 mounts in California, things picked up somewhat for Chavez during the Santa Anita meet, where he went 23 for 177. At the current Hollywood stand, Chavez was 12 for 88 through Thursday.

Chavez, 45, was the leading rider on this circuit from 1994-99 and became a fan favorite with his aggressive riding style, which particularly played well on Aqueduct's inner track. Chavez won the Eclipse Award as the nation's leading rider in 1999 and won the Kentucky Derby aboard Monarchos in 2001. Chavez has not been able to return to those glory days since suffering a broken back in a spill in the Florida Derby in 2003.

Chavez says he feels "perfect" physically and doesn't believe he has to prove himself all over again to the New York horsemen.

"I know what I can do," Chavez said. "I don't have to prove nothing; people know me."

Chavez, who has won 3,418 races in North America, will be represented by Winston Heslop.

Half Ours injured; future unclear

Of all the talented horses in trainer Todd Pletcher's barn, the one stabled closest to his office is Half Ours. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though he will be there much longer.

Pletcher said Half Ours suffered a fracture to a hind cannon bone, had surgery to insert two screws in the leg, and will be out indefinitely. Pletcher said Half Ours will be sent to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky and that a decision on his future will be at a later date. If he is retired, Half Ours would end his career with 5 wins from 7 starts, including the Grade 2 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup. At 2, he won the Three Chimneys Juvenile.

"I don't think we ever got to realize his full potential," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said the injury to Half Ours was detected following his most recent workout, a half-mile breeze in 50.30 seconds on June 21.

Half Ours was originally purchased for $625,000 out of the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale by a partnership of Barry Schwartz and Aaron and Marie Jones. Last November, Jones paid $6.1 million to buy Half Ours out of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale to dissolve the partnership.

Who will take on Rags to Riches?

Pletcher is pointing Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches to the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21. The big question is, Who will run against her?

Nominations for the Grade 1 race were to close on Saturday. As of Friday there were 13 nominations, according to stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, four of which are trained by Pletcher. In addition to Rags to Riches, Pletcher nominated Octave, Mini Sermon, and Prom Party. Of the other nine nominees, only Folk is considered definite.

Others nominated include Cash's Girl and Lear's Princess from Kiaran McLaughlin, as well as Winning Point, My Kitty, Greenstreet, Olivine, and Autobahn Girl.

"There'll be four in there," Pletcher said. "They might all be ours. I'll run four if I have to."

Fishy Advice targets Bowling Green

Fishy Advice, who came off a near seven-month layoff to win the Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth Park, is being pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap here July 15, trainer David Donk said.

Fishy Advice, a 5-year-old son of Woodman, rallied to win the Battlefield by a half-length over the pacesetting Shake the Bank. The final time of 1:46.08 was a course record. Fishy Advice hadn't run since winning the Laurel Turf Cup last Nov. 25.

"I knew he'd run well, but if you told me he'd have the course record, no," Donk said.

Donk chose the Bowling Green over the Caesar Rodney Handicap, a race Fishy Advice won last year at Delaware Park, because he wants to try the horse at a longer distance. The Bowling Green is run at 1 3/8 miles as opposed to 1 1/8 miles for the Caesar Rodney.

"We've always looked to stretch him out; we never had the opportunity," Donk said. "We'll run against Sunriver and see how good we are."

Saratoga season passes on sale

Season passes for the upcoming Saratoga meet are now on sale by mail or telephone or in person at Belmont Park's customer service booth on racing days.

The cost is $75 for clubhouse and $35 for grandstand.

To purchase a season pass by mail, write to NYRA, P.O. Box 90, Jamaica, NY 11417, attention: Customer Service. To purchase a season pass by phone, call (718) 659-2321.

Saratoga's meet runs from July 25 through Sept. 3.