05/24/2004 12:00AM

Friends Lake just isn't right


ELMONT, N.Y. - On Monday morning, trainer John Kimmel had hoped to be talking about Friends Lake possibly running in the Belmont Stakes. Instead, Kimmel described a "depressed" and possibly sick horse who isn't going to run in the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Friends Lake, who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March, finished seventh in Saturday's Peter Pan, and was beaten 15 1/4 lengths by the winner, Purge. The Peter Pan was Friends Lake's first start since a 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Kimmel said Friends Lake was acting lethargic in the paddock before the Peter Pan.

"He was even lying down in his stall before we brought him over [to the paddock]," Kimmel said. "That's not like him at all. Something is not right about him. We took a blood and chemistry and should have the results back Tuesday. Something has got him under the weather, because that's not the horse I know at all."

Kimmel said that depending upon the outcome of the test results, Friends Lake might get some time off at the New York farm owned by his breeders and owners, Chester and Mary Broman.

Virginia Derby next for Master David

Though very pleased with Master David's effort in the Peter Pan, trainer Bobby Frankel will return the colt to the grass for his next start. Frankel said the $100,000 Hill Prince at Belmont on June 6 is unlikely because it's too soon on the heels of the Peter Pan. Instead, Frankel will point Master David to the $500,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 10.

Master David, who trailed down the backstretch in the Peter Pan, finished third, eight lengths behind Purge.

"He ran good, and I thought he could have been second with a better trip, but maybe I'm wrong," Frankel said. "He's a nice horse and always tries hard."

Master David raced three times on the grass in England before coming to the United States last fall. A son of Grand Slam out of a Sadler's Wells mare, Master David finished second in two maiden races on the turf at Newmarket before winning a grass race at Thirsk in September. He has not raced on the grass in six starts in this country.

On Monday at Belmont, Frankel worked Peace Rules, who is being pointed to the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 12. Peace Rules worked a bullet five furlongs over the main track in 59.29 seconds.

Sinister G lowers sights

After another disappointing effort from Sinister G in Saturday's Peter Pan, his connections will look for a softer spot for his next start.

Sinister G has been badly beaten in two starts since his upset in the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at Turfway Park on March 20. After the Lane's End, he ran back in the Wood Memorial and finished 10th. Sinister G came out of the Wood with a respiratory infection, which forced him to miss the Kentucky Derby.

In the Peter Pan, Sinister G finished eighth after breaking slowly from the rail and rushing up to contest the pace.

"No more stakes for him for awhile," said Sinister G's trainer, John Toscano Jr. "We're going to shorten him up in some allowance sprints. We need to get him back in the game mentally."

Quantum Merit to play a little Poker

After winning Sunday's Kingston Handicap against New York-breds, Quantum Merit will likely face open stakes company for his next start.

Del Carroll II, who trains Quantum Merit for Very Un Stable, said the 5-year-old is a good possibility for the Grade 2, $100,000 Poker Handicap on the turf at Belmont on July 10. Quantum Merit won the Kingston by a nose over Foreverness for his second win in as many starts this year.

Quantum Merit has shown a fondness for Belmont's turf course by winning 5 of 11 starts on it. In addition to the Kingston, the gelding won last year's Ashley T. Cole Handicap at Belmont.

Carroll said besides the Poker, another one-mile turf race that is possible for Quantum Merit is the Grade 2, $250,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 3. Last year, Carroll won the Firecracker with Tap the Admiral, who several months later had to be euthanized after contracting a form of colitis x.

"I would love to stay right here," Carroll said. "The timing of the Poker is perfect."

Carroll said having Quantum Merit in the barn has eased some of the pain of losing Tap the Admiral.

"It fills a void that's for sure," Carroll said. "Like Quantum Merit, Tap the Admiral was a very determined runner."

Met Mile runners work

Several probable starters for Monday's Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap worked on Monday. At Churchill Downs, Azeri covered six furlongs in 1:12.20. At Belmont, Strong Hope worked in company with Chase Gap. Under former jockey Angel Cordero Jr., Strong Hope broke off five lengths behind Chase Gap and made up the ground to beat his workmate. Strong Hope's time was 59.56. Chase Gap was timed in 1:00.43. Also at Belmont, Gygistar worked a half-mile in 48.54.