08/08/2005 11:00PM

Fever knocks Smuggler out of Alabama

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First Samurai tours the paddock before his race on Sunday, which he won with a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. He likely will run next in the Hopeful.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Smuggler, the leading 3-year-old filly on the East Coast, will be forced to miss the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 20 after developing a temperature, trainer Shug McGaughey said Tuesday.

Coming off wins in the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks, Smuggler would have been favored for the $750,000 Alabama - the third leg of New York's triple crown for 3-year-old fillies - run at 1 1/4 miles.

McGaughey said Smuggler developed a temperature last week, but it had returned to normal for a 36-hour period. After missing two days of training over the weekend, Smuggler returned to the track on Monday when she jogged and appeared to come back fine. Later Monday afternoon, however, McGaughey said the temperature was elevated again, and that the filly needs to be treated with medication.

"Now, we'll get more aggressive with her and try to get whatever is in her out of her and look to the fall," McGaughey said. "Hopefully we can get one decent race into her before the Breeders' Cup. I don't think it's a big deal, it just came at the wrong time."

McGaughey mentioned the Gazelle on Sept. 10 at Belmont Park, the Indiana Oaks on Sept. 30 at Hoosier Park, or the Cotillion on Oct. 1 at Philadelphia Park as possible next starts for Smuggler. The Breeders' Cup Distaff will be run at Belmont on Oct. 29.

Though Smuggler is out, the Alabama still could be a very good race. Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly and Ashland winner Sis City are pointing to it, as are For All We Know, Indian Vale, R Lady Joy, Sweet Symphony, and possibly Dance Away Capote.

Sweet Symphony, undefeated in three starts, breezed four furlongs in 50.43 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Tuesday.

Motion fears slow Sword Dancer pace

Trainer Graham Motion prefers Saturday's $500,000 Sword Dancer to the Arlington Million for Better Talk Now from many standpoints. The competition will be easier, it's run over a course and at a distance (1 1/2 miles) he likes, and the ship from Fair Hill, Md., to Saratoga is more manageable.

Still, Motion expressed concern about the apparent lack of pace in the Sword Dancer, a race Better Talk Now won last year despite a modest pace. Of the nine horses being pointed to the Grade 1 race, King's Drama is the only confirmed front-runner.

"Pace is definitely a concern, which is what made the Arlington race very appealing," Motion said.

Better Talk Now is coming off a victory in the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap. In that race, Motion made sure there was sufficient pace by entering a rabbit, Shake the Bank, who set a strong pace. Better Talk Now rallied along the rail to get the job done. Shake the Bank was not invited to the Sword Dancer.

Motion said he would also like to see some rain hit Saratoga this week to soften up what has been a firm, speed-conducive turf course. There is a chance of thunderstorms through the week.

Those expected to join Better Talk Now and King's Drama in the gate for the Sword Dancer are Dreadnaught, Meteor Storm, Relaxed Gesture, Request for Parole, Rochester, Silverfoot, and Vangelis.

Alinghi will wait for Ballston Spa

Trainer Bobby Frankel was hoping the Australian champion Alinghi would make her North American debut in Wednesday's $65,000 Quick Call Stakes. But the race drew only four entries and was not used.

With limited options, Frankel will point Alinghi to the $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Aug. 29. Alinghi is not Breeders' Cup- nominated, thus she will be running for only half the purse.

"It's a shame for a filly like this not to run,'' Frankel said. "People would like to see her run. I got a call from a radio station [Sunday] in Australia; they're very interested over there how an Australian champion would do in America."

Alinghi has won 10 of 16 starts, including at least four Group 1 races.

Reverberate works toward Travers

Reverberate, runner-up to Flower Alley in the Jim Dandy here on July 30, began preparations for the $1 million on Travers on Aug. 27 by working four furlongs in 49.65 seconds Tuesday morning over the main track. Regular rider Jose Santos was aboard for the move.

Santos didn't get Reverberate pulled up until the 5 1/2-furlong pole on the backside.

"Everything's well with him," trainer Sal Russo said. "We'll let him do a little more next time."

Though nominations don't close until this weekend, the prospective Travers field also includes Flower Alley, Roman Ruler, Andromeda's Hero, Wild Desert, and A.P. Arrow.

Gazelle possible for Leave Me Alone

Leave Me Alone, who became a Grade 1 winner in last Saturday's Test, arrived home in California on Monday. Eric Kruljac, Leave Me Alone's trainer, said he wanted to watch how things shaped up in the division before picking out his filly's next spot. He mentioned the Gazelle at Belmont as a possible next spot.

"If there's an outside shot of winning an Eclipse Award and we could win the Gazelle and maybe be second or third in the Breeders' Cup [Distaff] we'd be in the mix," Kruljac said Tuesday from Santa Anita.

Kruljac said he is confident Leave Me Alone could stretch out. She won the Melair Stakes at 1 1/16 miles by four lengths. Her only bad dirt race came in the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks when she finished fourth. Kruljac said he erred by having jockey Tyler Baze take Leave Me Alone off the pace that day.

"She's a free-running horse," Kruljac said. "A mile and an eighth, one turn at Belmont would be right up her alley."

If Kruljac skips the Gazelle, he said he would point Leave Me Alone to the $300,000 Raven Run, a seven-furlong stakes at Keeneland in October.

First Samurai likely for Hopeful

First Samurai, 2 for 2 after an allowance win here on Sunday, is under consideration for the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 27, trainer Frank Brothers said. First Samurai won Sunday's entry-level allowance race by six lengths and covered six furlongs in 1:10.36. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

A son of Giant's Causeway, First Samurai won his career debut by 5 1/2 lengths in a six-furlong race at Churchill Downs on July 9. His Beyer that day was 78.

"We're certainly considering [the Hopeful], but nothing is written in stone," said Brothers, who trains First Samurai for Bruce Lunsford and Landson Robbins. "He ran a little green [Sunday], but he pretty much showed us what we want. You have to like what you see so far."

At the top of the stretch in Sunday's race, First Samurai, who was ridden by Jerry Bailey, lugged in on the runner-up, Trippi Appeal, before drawing off in the stretch. The stewards dismissed a claim of foul against the winner.

Business down after two weeks

Despite good weather conditions for the most part, attendance and handle are down from last year through the first two weeks of the meet. Attendance is down 2.5 percent from 347,503 in 2004 to 338,635.

Ontrack handle is off 5.3 percent from $41,130,814 to $39,062,172, and that includes a non-Travers Day record handle of $5,573,304 on Saturday when the weather was perfect.

Total handle is down 6.7 percent, from $184,789,920 last year to $172,369,342 this year.

There have been several key gate scratches through the first two weeks of the meet. NYRA's decision to card two steeplechase races and seven flat races on Aug. 3 backfired as total handle for that day was down 25 percent.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson