10/14/2004 11:00PM

Flamenco goals beyond Cowdin

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Flamenco missed some training because of a fever, but he's hale and hearty now and ready for the Cowdin.

ELMONT, N.Y. - A fever kept Flamenco out of training for several days and caused trainer Todd Pletcher to scrap his plans of running in last weekend's Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and wait for Sunday's $75,000-added Cowdin Stakes at Belmont Park.

Flamenco will be the favorite among six 2-year-old males in the 6 1/2- furlong Cowdin.

Down the road, Pletcher wants to test Flamenco, who is Grade 1-placed, in longer races.

"We weren't quite on cue to try and stretch him out," Pletcher said. "We'll go to the Cowdin and hope he runs well in there."

Flamenco hasn't run since finishing third in the Grade 1 Hopeful, two lengths behind the winner, Afleet Alex.

When Pletcher saw that the field size for the Cowdin was small, he also decided to enter Upscaled, who is not coupled in the wagering with his stablemate. Upscaled, a front-runner, finished fourth in the Grade 2 Futurity here on Sept. 19.

Jerry Bailey rides Flamenco from post 4. Jose Santos is named on Upscaled, who drew post 2 and gets blinkers on.

Fusaichi Rock Star finished fifth as the favorite in the Futurity. His trainer, Bob Baffert, said the colt displaced his palate in the Futurity and will run with a tongue-tie and a figure-eight bridle in the Cowdin. Baffert also removes the blinkers that Fusaichi Rock Star won in his first three starts.

"A lot of it with him is mental," Baffert said. "He's still an immature horse. I was going to run in the Champagne, but he wasn't ready for that. We're going to sort of start over and take baby steps."

Better Than Bonds earned a 79 Beyer Speed Figure when he won his maiden here on Sept. 25 in his second start and returned $86. In his first start, he broke from the rail and was beaten 12 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track.

"I think those two things threw him for a loop," said Bobby Reinacher Jr., Better Than Bonds's trainer. "The most important thing is, he got a lot out of that first race and came out of it more focused."

Reinacher thought Better Than Bonds was too much on the muscle in the early running of his last race, and plans to open up the back of the horse's blinkers in the Cowdin.

After wining his maiden at Calder, Magoo's Magic makes his first start for trainer Allen Jerkens.

Doctor Voodoo, scheduled to run in Friday's Comet Stakes at The Meadowlands, was entered in the Cowdin as insurance if bad weather canceled the Comet.

Clever Electrician's distance dilemma

Trainer Bruce Levine nominated Clever Electrician, who has won his last two starts in sprint stakes, to the $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap and the $100,000 Hudson Handicap on the New York Showcase Day card on Oct. 23.

On Friday, Levine said he was leaning toward running Clever Electrician, a front-runner, in the six-furlong Hudson.

The Empire Classic is run at 1 1/8 miles. Although he won his maiden at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park in 2003, Clever Electrician has been running in sprints the entire season.

At Belmont in his last start on Sept. 10, Clever Electrician won the seven-furlong General D. MacArthur by 1 1/2 lengths. At Saratoga, Clever Electrician won the 6 1/2-furlong John Morrissey Stakes. Overall in 2004, Clever Electrician has won 5 of 9 starts.

"I'm fretting about the mile and an eighth, because what if he draws the inside post and a bad post compromises his sprint speed?" Levine said. "Six furlongs isn't his cup of tea, either - he really is a seven-furlong horse."

The Empire Classic and Hudson are among seven New York-bred stakes on the Showcase card. The other races are the $150,000 Ticonderoga, $150,000 Mohawk, $125,000 Iroquois, $100,000 Sleepy Hollow, and $100,000 Maid of the Mist.

Rogue Agent iffy for Showcase Day

While Levine grapples with his decision to run in the Empire Classic or Hudson, trainer Richard Schosberg must decide if he wants to run Rogue Agent on Showcase Day.

Schosberg has nominated Rogue Agent to the Empire Classic.

Schosberg began training Rogue Agent, a 5-year-old, about a month ago when One Fein Stable transferred the gelding from trainer Mike Brice's barn. While with Brice, Rogue Agent was graded-stakes-placed, including a third in last year's Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap. Rogue Agent hasn't run since finishing fourth in the Evan Shipman Handicap here on July 25.

Schosberg said his main concern about running Rogue Agent in the Empire Classic is that he doesn't want the gelding to have too tough of a race first time out.

"He is the type of horse that takes it to the mat and lays it out there every time he runs," Schosberg said. "I'm a little concerned about the layoff and the distance. It's a little farther than I would want off a layoff. I would have liked to have a prep race."

Sherpa Guide and Spite the Devil, nominees to the Empire Classic, both worked at Belmont Park on the main track on Friday. Sherpa Guide worked six furlongs in 1:16.31. Spite the Devil covered seven furlongs in 1:28.11.

Amy set for first U.S. ride in 24 years

Jockey Jose Amy, who was banned from race-riding in this country for 24 years because he admitted to fixing races in New York in the mid-1970's, will ride competitively for the first time in the United States since 1980 in Sunday's fourth race. Amy is named on the Dominic Galluscio-trained Julia's Signal.

Amy, 51, was granted his jockey's license by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Sept. 29. Since 2001, he has held an exercise rider's license.

* Belmont and Travers winner Birdstone worked six furlongs in 1:15.09 over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga on Friday. Birdstone is being pointed to the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

* Jockey Jose Espinoza, unseated when his mount clipped heels in Thursday's ninth race, spent the evening in the emergency room at North Shore University Hospital. Rene Araya, Espinoza's agent, said initial X-rays were negative, but the rider was scheduled for a CT scan of his back later on Friday. Araya was hoping that Espinoza would return to riding on Wednesday, providing the scan came back clean.

* Retired jockey Patti Cooksey will be at Belmont Park on Sunday to accept the Mike Venezia award. The ceremony will take place in the paddock at approximately 12:30 p.m. Helene Venezia, Venezia's widow, will make the presentation.

* Steve Levar, a former announcer for the Singapore Jockey Club, will call the races at Aqueduct from Oct. 28-31, while Tom Durkin is at Lone Star Park to call the Breeders' Cup races.

- additional reporting by David Grening