05/04/2009 12:00AM

Flashing putting off match with Rachel


ELMONT, N.Y. - Nassau County Stakes winner Flashing will not return in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day, but according to trainer Tom Albertrani it has nothing to do with the expected presence of Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra in that race.

Albertrani said he wasn't even planning to run Flashing in last Saturday's Nassau County, but rather an overnight stakes going a mile here May 13. He only opted for the Nassau County when the race came up a five-horse field.

"Going seven furlongs we knew wasn't going to be her best distance," Albertrani said Monday. "Drawing inside made it even more difficult, but I like the way she came back and fought. She looked like she really ran hard, and we'll most likely be looking to skip the Acorn."

Albertrani said he plans to point Flashing to races such as the Mother Goose on June 27 and the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 25.

It figures that Flashing would likely meet Rachel Alexandra - the 20 1/4-length winner of the Kentucky Oaks - in one of those races.

"You can't always avoid one horse," Albertrani said. "She looks like she's a very special filly who is definitely going to be hard to beat."

Justwhistledixie may return soon

Justwhistledixie, who was scratched out of Friday's Kentucky Oaks due to a bruised foot, may not miss much time, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said there doesn't appear to be anything seriously amiss with the filly, who could return to training later this week. She arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday, was re-shod Monday, and could return to the track Wednesday.

McLaughlin said Justwhistledixie was "lame when we went to give her Lasix" at Churchill Downs on Friday. It has since been determined that her discomfort came as a result of her shoe hitting her wrong on the inside quarter of the foot, McLaughlin said. On Monday, Justwhistledixie was equipped with a Z-bar shoe, which alleviates pressure on the quarter.

"I felt terrible from 2 o'clock to 3 o'clock, trying to figure out what was wrong," McLaughlin said. "At 5:47, I was kind of glad she was eating her dinner and not in the starting gate. I felt like we could have been second."

McLaughlin said "we'll proceed cautiously" before picking out a spot for Justwhistledixie.

My Princess Jess eyes Just a Game

My Princess Jess, sharp winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes, could step back into Grade 1 competition in the $400,000 Just a Game Stakes here June 6, her connections said.

"We'll see how it comes up, but that's certainly a possibility if she's doing as well as she is now," said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg.

My Princess Jess, making her first start since last fall, displayed a strong closing kick in rallying from off the pace to win by 1 3/4 lengths under Cornelio Velasquez.

"We told Cornelio to wait, wait, wait, and when he thought it was time to go wait a little bit longer," Smullen said. "We thought we were going in there a work or two short, but she didn't run that way."

Meanwhile, the connections of Fort Marcy winner Cosmonaut were noncommittal on where the 7-year-old would run next. Cosmonaut came off a nine-month layoff to run down pacesetting Tam Lin and win the Fort Marcy by 1 1/2 lengths. It was his eighth win from 33 starts, and his fifth stakes score. He has now earned more than $1.3 million for Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stable.

Trainer Phil Serpe said the Manhattan here June 6 is a possibility.

"We'd love for this horse to win a Grade 1; he's been close a couple of times," Serpe said. "Whether he's ready to step up in his second race back going a mile and a quarter, we'll see how things go."

Serpe said he could look for a "less demanding" spot for his next start and then point to the Grade 1 Man o' War on July 11.

Cosmonaut earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for his Fort Marcy win. It was the 17th triple-digit speed figure he's earned in his career, all between 100 and 104.

Quality Road resumes training

Quality Road, who missed the Kentucky Derby due to a quarter crack, resumed training, galloping 1o1/4 miles on the training track Sunday and the equivalent of 1 1/4 miles in the barn of Allen Jerkens on Monday. Allen is the father of Jimmy Jerkens, the trainer of Quality Road.

Quality Road galloped in the barn on Monday due to the wet conditions of both the training and main tracks at Belmont.

"I'd rather not put too much concussion on that foot for a while," Jimmy Jerkens said.

Jerkens said that noted equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay put in a new set of laces to stabilize the crack over the weekend but did not re-patch the area. Quality Road also had a bar shoe put on.

"We're going to go without a patch for awhile, because we haven't had any luck patching him," Jerkens said.

There are no real plans for Quality Road at this time. Jerkens has previously said that everything would have to go perfect for him to make the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

Desert Key returns Wednesday

Desert Key, one of Jerkens's better 3-year-olds of 2008, is set to make his return to the races in a second-level allowance race Wednesday going six furlongs. The $47,000 race is Desert Key's first since Sept. 27, when he finished second in the Gallant Bob Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Jerkens said Desert Key had a chip taken out of an ankle late last year and has been training steadily for his return.

"I wish I could have blown him out a little closer to the race, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen with the mud," Jerkens said.

Desert Key has a maiden and an allowance win under his belt but has finished second in four stakes, including the Grade 1 King's Bishop last August. He ran a dynamite race in the King's Bishop, pressing a fast pace and holding second to Visionaire.

Javier Castellano will ride Desert Key from post 2. A good race here could earn Desert Key a spot in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 6.

NYRA boosts guaranteed pick fours

The New York Racing Association will offer a guaranteed pool of $350,000 on the late pick-four wager on Saturdays, starting this weekend. The late pick four is usually on races 7 through 10.

On days when the pool does not reach $350,000, NYRA must supplement the difference. The pick-four pool did not surpass $350,000 on only four of the 11 Saturdays during the 2008 spring/summer meet (excluding Belmont Stakes Day). The late pick-four pool last Saturday was only $213,723. That compared with $223,759 on the first Saturday of last year's spring/summer meet. Both were on Kentucky Derby Day.

On Belmont Stakes Day 2008, when NYRA guaranteed a $1 million pick-four pool, the pool reached $1.85 million. NYRA will offer another $1omillion-guaranteed pick-four during this year's Belmont Stakes card.

NYRA offered a guaranteed pool of $250,000 on the late pick four on Saturdays during the last three months of the Aqueduct meet. On April 11, NYRA had to contribute almost $14,000 when the pool was $236,249.