09/06/2001 11:00PM

Frankel poised to overtake Baffert


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though he goes into the weekend second in the national standings for money won by trainers with approximately $9 million to Bob Baffert's $14 million, Bobby Frankel is positioning himself for a serious run at the Eclipse title that he first won in 1993.

Frankel is pointing Flute, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes, for the $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 6.

The trainer regards Flute as one of the finest that has come his way during a Hall of Fame career, and her performance in last month's Alabama at Saratoga may have been the best she has ever run.

Aptitude, winner of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap several weeks ago by a decisive 4 1/2 lengths, will be seen next in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, also to be run on an outstanding program at Belmont Park Oct. 6. Aptitude, who also won the Hollywood Gold Cup through a disqualification, appears to have matured into a first-class handicap horse.

You, who won a hotly contested Adirondack Stakes against the heavily favored Cashier's Dream, will be Frankel's choice for the $200,000 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 16. Concerned over the demanding tone of the Adirondack, Frankel decided to pass up last weekend's Spinaway, won easily by Cashier's Dream. He feels the extra rest will serve You to good advantage.

Frankel is considering the $300,000 Vosburgh on Sept. 22 for Squirtle Squirt, an impressive winner of the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga by more than three lengths.

Starine, who raced in France earlier this year, appeared to have adapted well to American racing. She has won her last two starts, including the recent Diana Handicap on the turf on Saratoga's getaway card. Frankel is considering her for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on the dirt, despite the fact she has raced on grass most of her career. He owns the filly, so he can place her where he thinks best.

Fleet Foot is a 3-year-old colt by Gone West out of the dam of Eltish, who came from Europe to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 1994. Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farm, Fleet Foot won his two starts impressively at Del Mar and seems ready for tonier assignments. Frankel is considering him for the $150,000 Jerome Mile at Belmont Park on Sept. 15.

Ward: Tack is back on Monarchos

"I didn't realize how demanding it is on a horse to run in all three Triple Crown races until I did it this year with Monarchos," John Ward commented the other day. "I respect Point Given for what he did in the Triple Crown and feel his retirement is a big loss for racing."

Ward is not distressed over comments in connection with Point Given's retirement that tend to reflect negatively on Monarchos's Kentucky Derby triumph.

"We've got the tack back on Monarchos and hope to have him ready for the handicap races in Florida over the winter," he said. "It is possible a Wood Memorial victory before the Derby would have made a stronger case for Monarchos and it may be that I eased off a little on his training for the Wood. We wanted to have him as fresh as possible for the Derby, and in that respect I'm glad we did it that way. He ran a strong race in the Derby and did it in good time, and I think that will be recognized. I'm also glad we were fortunate enough to spot the problem that put him on the sidelines because it means that he will race again."

Ward has two homebred 2-year-olds who are prospects for next year's 3-year-old racing. Both are owned by John Oxley, who races Monarchos. One is Test of Time, by Capote, who won his only start at Saratoga. The other is Bold Truth, by Seattle Slew, who finished third in an appearance at Saratoga.

"We're not thinking of stakes for them this fall," Ward said. "We would rather have them eligible for condition races in Florida this winter. If you recall, Monarchos didn't run in stakes until the Florida Derby, and we'd prefer to follow the same pattern with these colts in the interests of conservation."