06/30/2005 11:00PM

Fracture knocks Oratory out of Dwyer


ELMONT, N.Y. - If bad things do occur in threes, then the luck of both Belmont Park and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum should soon be changing.

Oratory, winner of the Grade 2 here on May 28 and the likely favorite for Monday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes, suffered a condylar fracture to his right foreleg during a five-furlong workout Friday morning at Belmont Park and is out indefinitely.

Oratory is the third high-profile horse based at Belmont to get injured in the last month. Grade 1 winners Ghostzapper - the defending Horse of the Year - and Eddington have been retired due to leg injuries.

Also, Oratory is the third 3-year-old colt owned by Sheik Mohammed to suffer an illness or injury. On Thursday, Shamardal, a dual French classic winner, was retired due to a fetlock injury. Last month, Blues and Royals, who handed Shamardal his only loss in the UAE Derby in March, was euthanized after complications from a respiratory infection. Oratory was campaigned under Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable banner.

Dr. Stephen Selway was scheduled to perform surgery on Oratory on Saturday morning, at which time he was expected to insert a couple of screws to stabilize the leg. The success of the surgery will determine whether Oratory is retired or brought back to race again next year.

"It depends how well we could get it back together,'' trainer Tom Albertrani said. "At this point we don't know till we have the surgery done.''

Albertrani sent out Oratory on Friday morning for his final tune-up prior to the Dwyer, which kicks off the second half of the year in the 3-year-old division. In the final furlong of the work, exercise rider Alfredo Laureano said he felt something amiss and eased Oratory as the work was completed in 1:04. Laureano jumped off the horse about a furlong past the wire and Oratory was walked back to the barn.

"You could see he was lame as soon as he pulled up,'' Albertrani said.

Oratory turned heads with a 4 3/4-length victory in the Peter Pan, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. His connections decided to skip the Belmont Stakes in hopes of having a fresh horse for the second half of the year, their goal being the Travers and a meeting with Preakness and Belmont stakes winner Afleet Alex.

Jerry Bailey was scheduled to ride Oratory. Instead, Bailey will now ride Roman Ruler, who likely will become the Dwyer favorite. Others expected to run include Biloxi Palace, Flower Alley, Middle Earth, and Mr. Congeniality. Possible starters include Freedom Isn't Free and United.

Abreu makes New York debut

Reynaldo Abreu began the racing week by recording his first win as a trainer when Caged Glory won a maiden race Monday at Suffolk Downs. He hopes to end the week with his first stakes win when he saddles Gulch Approval in the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap.

Last month, Abreu left his job as an assistant trainer to Nick Zito to take the job as private trainer for Marylou Whitney Stables. Abreu has a string of 14 horses, nine of whom are 2-year-olds.

Abreu said he intended to go out on his own after last year's Breeders' Cup to train for a friend of his in Florida. When Zito turned down an offer to be Whitney's private trainer, Zito recommended Abreu for the job to John Hendrickson, Whitney's husband and racing manager.

Abreu, 35, has worked around horses for more than 20 years. He worked for Zito for approximately 1 1/2 years.

Gulch Approval has lost his last seven starts since taking the Grade 3 Oceanport Handicap last August. But he has finished second or third in four stakes starts since, including a third in the Grade 3 Jaipur last out. Gulch Approval was on the lead that day, something Abreu would like to avoid on Sunday.

"He doesn't necessarily have to be on the lead,'' Abreu said. "We'll have different instructions this time. I could not ask a horse to train any better.''

Among the 2-year-olds Abreu has for Whitney is Bird Charm, a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Birdstone and Bird Town, by Silver Charm.

Abreu said he is high on colts by Tactical Cat and Cat Thief that are likely to run during the Saratoga meet.

Henny Hughes confirmed for Tremont

Henny Hughes, a good-looking maiden winner at Monmouth Park on June 17, will wheel back quickly to run in Monday's $100,000 Tremont Stakes for 2-year-old colts.

Trainer Patrick Biancone was pleased enough with the way Henny Hughes breezed on Friday - there was no official time recorded - to run him back on short rest. Henny Hughes overcame a slow start to win his maiden by six lengths, earning a 65 Beyer.

Henny Hughes will likely be second choice in the Tremont behind Travelin Leroy. Others pointing to the race are Bello Victorio, Creve Coeur, Short Circuit, and Union Course.