10/26/2004 11:00PM

Galloping Grocer to get class test in Remsen


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The waters will get deeper for the undefeated Galloping Grocer when he makes his next start in the $200,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 27, and his trainer, Dominic Schettino, believes the New York-bred gelding is ready for the challenge.

After romping to a 7 1/2-length win in last Saturday's $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park - his third win in restricted company in as many starts - Galloping Grocer will stretch out to two turns in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen.

The combined margin of victory for Galloping Grocer's three wins is 31 3/4 lengths. In Galloping Grocer's last two starts, jockey John Velazquez aggressively rode him out a furlong past the finish line in order to give the horse the experience of finishing up strongly.

"The distance won't be a problem for him," Schettino said. "He gallops a mile to a mile and a half in the mornings and he is fine with the turns; doesn't drift. This is a very athletic horse who hits the ground fluidly."

Galloping Grocer, a son of A. P Jet, earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Sleepy Hollow, the same number he received for his maiden win.

Because of Galloping Grocer's status as a New York-bred, Schettino said the gelding's owners and breeders, Robert Rosenthal and Bernice Waldbaum, would target next spring's $150,000 Gotham and $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The breeders of a New York-bred sired by a New York stallion, such as Galloping Grocer, earn 20 percent of their share of the purse for top-four finishes in all races run in New York, with a $10,000 cap per race. Owners of New York-breds who finish among the top four in open races in New York earn 20 percent of their share of the purse, with a $20,000 cap per race.

Luzzi's comeback delayed

Wednesday, Mike Luzzi celebrated his 35th birthday at home, rather than riding at Aqueduct as he had originally planned.

Luzzi hasn't ridden competitively since he broke his right leg in the first race on opening day of the Saratoga meet on July 28. The rider, who fell from his mount when the reins broke, subsequently underwent surgery at Albany Medical Center to place a rod and two screws in his leg.

Luzzi had hoped to return to the races on Wednesday, but decided to give himself more time to strengthen his leg. He has been galloping and working horses since Oct. 18. Luzzi's physician, Dr. Richard Alfred, gave him the okay to begin galloping horses four weeks ago, but the rider waited another two weeks to get on horses.

"I think it will be another week or two before I ride," Luzzi said Wednesday morning after working a horse for trainer Bruce Levine at Belmont. "I'm physically fit and have my air, but I want to strengthen my leg. I want to feel perfect because I'm a perfectionist. I'm going to let my leg tell me when."

Luzzi said his unplanned vacation has worked out well in the sense he has been able to spend time with his family.

"I get time with the kids and can live like a real American," Luzzi said. "But I still would rather be working."

'Garland' next for Sugar Punch

Sugar Punch, who remained undefeated in six starts this year by winning last Saturday's $125,000 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont, will be pointed to the $75,000-added Garland of Roses over Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 11.

Sugar Punch, who is owned in a partnership that includes New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and IEAH Stables, has won three restricted stakes this year. In addition to the Iroquois, she won the Schenectady and Union Ave. Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., Sugar Punch will face open company in the six-furlong Garland of Roses.

"She came out her race really well and I was very happy with the effort," Dutrow said. "The Garland of Roses is what we are pointing to."

Dutrow also reported that Well Fancied, who hasn't run since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Carter here on April 10, would return to his barn in the next week. Dutrow said Well Fancied, who won last year's Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day, would be sent to his barn at Palm Meadows Training Center near Boynton Beach, Fla.

Well Fancied was at Kesmarc Equine Rehabilitation Center in Versailles, Ky., to recover from an injury to his knee. Dutrow said Well Fancied is fairly fit because he has been doing physical therapy, involving swimming, at Kesmarc.

"It should be three or four months or maybe less to get him ready," Dutrow said.

In February, Well Fancied won the Grade 2 General George at Laurel Park.

Class Above gets class relief

Class Above, coming off four losses in graded races, is among seven fillies and mares in Friday's eighth race. The optional claimer will be run at a mile. Childress, the horse with the most wins in the field with nine, was entered for a $65,000 claiming tag.

At the Belmont meet, Class Above finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ruffian on Sept. 19. and sixth in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on Oct. 10. Her competition here is softer and the filly returns to a distance at which she has twice won.

Class Above is in receipt of seven pounds from Childress, who carries 124 pounds as the co-highweight with Pop Princess.

Childress, in top form for Dutrow and 5 for 8 in mile races, is the horse to beat.