09/13/2004 11:00PM

Freshened Stroll back to work


ELMONT, N.Y. - Bill Mott gave Stroll a summer vacation, hoping to have a fresher, stronger horse for the fall. Mott will find out how well that plan has worked beginning Saturday when Stroll returns to the races in the Grade 2, $200,000 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park.

Stroll, who won the Grade 1 Early Times Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, has not raced since finishing sixth as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 5, Belmont Stakes Day. That race was at 1 1/4 miles. The Belmont Breeders' Cup is at 1 1/8 miles, a distance at which Stroll has won four graded stakes.

Initially, Mott thought about using the Kelso on Oct. 9 as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile, but ultimately changed his mind, in part to give the colt more time between races.

"I decided if we're going to go the Breeders' Cup, the timing of this would be better for us," Mott said from Keeneland, where he was attending the yearling sales. "It's two turns, which for the time being I think he likes. If we went for the Kelso, it jams us up a bit because it's only three weeks back to the Breeders' Cup."

Stroll, a Claiborne Farm homebred son of Pulpit, worked five furlongs in 1:03.60 Tuesday morning over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga. Cornelio Velasquez will have the mount on Saturday, replacing the injured Jerry Bailey. Stroll will be the 120-pound highweight for the Belmont Breeders' Cup.

Others pointing to the race are Senor Swinger, Royal Regalia, Hotstufanthensome, Mogador, and Mr. Light. Possible runners include B. A. Way, Irish Colonial, and L'Oiseau D'Argent.

Nothing to Lose, winner of the Fourstardave on Travers Day, was mentioned as a probable starter for the Belmont Breeders' Cup. On Tuesday, however, trainer Bobby Frankel said Nothing to Lose would instead be pointed to the $600,000 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 9.

Frankel cited the bigger purse as well as the opportunity to see if Nothing to Lose is a true miler as reasons why he chose the Shadwell Mile over the Belmont race.

Musical Chimes likely out of Ruffian

With the remnants of Hurricane Ivan expected to hit New York by the weekend, trainer Neil Drysdale said Tuesday he is unlikely to send Musical Chimes here for Sunday's Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian.

The Ruffian was to be the dirt debut for Musical Chimes, who had made her previous 15 starts on the turf. Two starts back, Musical Chimes won the Grade 1 John C. Mabee Handicap. Last out, she finished fourth, beaten less than a length in the Beverly D.

"With the heavy rains forecast in New York, I doubt Musical Chimes will participate," Drysdale said during an NTRA conference call. "We'll watch the weather, but it doesn't look very good."

Drysdale said he had no back-up plan at the moment for Musical Chimes.

"I've got to confirm the weather forecast then I'll come up with a plan B," he said.

The defection of Musical Chimes would leave Sightseek even more of a prohibitive favorite than she figured to be and will have the racing office scrambling to fill the race. Miss Loren is the only other confirmed starter. Sightseek was made the 122-pound highweight.

Mott indicated a willingness to run Bounding Charm if the field came up light. Bounding Charm won an off-the-turf stakes in the slop at Saratoga. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had been pointing Class Above to Saturday's Grade 3 Turfway Breeders' Cup, but may reconsider and leave Class Above here for a try at a Grade 1 placing. Cloakof Vagueness is also possible.

Medallist drills toward Jerome

Medallist blitzed six furlongs in 1:11.09 Tuesday morning over the Belmont Park main track in preparation for a likely start in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap. Jorge Chavez was aboard for the workout.

Trainer Allen Jerkens said he has no answers as to why Medallist bore out so badly when he finished seventh of eight in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 28. Medallist also ran poorly in the Jim Dandy, failing to carry his speed around two turns.

"I have no idea why he quit running at Saratoga," Jerkens said.

If Medallist runs in the Jerome, he'll be returning to the track over which he won the Grade 2 Dwyer back in July in a stakes-record time of 1:40.02. Medallist would likely be the starting highweight in the Jerome at 118 pounds.

Ice Wynnd Fire, who finished third in the King's Bishop, worked five furlongs in 59.54 seconds Tuesday under Javier Castellano. Frankel said Ice Wynnd Fire was one of a handful of horses who coughed over the weekend and had some mucus, but he seemed fine after the breeze. Frankel said he would wait a day or two before confirming Ice Wynnd Fire a Jerome starter.

Frankel will run Coded Warning in the Jerome. Coded Warning is 2 for 3 at Belmont, and is coming off a third-place finish in a second-level allowance race on Travers Day at Saratoga.

Others pointing to the Jerome include Saratoga County, Sir Oscar and Reggie for Three. Possible starters include Teton Forest, West Virginia, Tap Day, Chowder's First, and Golden Look.

* Seattle Fitz, the Brooklyn Handicap winner, breezed four furlongs in 49.89 Tuesday at Saratoga and will be pointed to the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 2, his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said.