07/19/2006 11:00PM

Get-out race for Galluscio?


ELMONT, N.Y. - Last summer, Dominic Galluscio enjoyed a successful Belmont meeting with 14 wins, good enough for a seventh-place tie in the trainer standings.

This summer has been one frustration after another for Galluscio, who has only 2 wins from 56 starters, but has 17 second-place finishes. He will try to salvage the meet on Saturday when he sends out Organizer in the $100,000 Evan Shipman Handicap for New York-bred males. Saturday is the final day of the meet.

The Evan Shipman, run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, became a wide-open race when the connections of West Virginia elected to pass the race. They were unhappy with the 124-pound weight assignment, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Storm Boot Gold has gone 3 for 3 at this meet, having defeated seven of the eight horses entered in the Evan Shipman at least once this summer. When Storm Boot Gold beat Organizer in the Ormsby Stakes on June 8, Organizer was making his first start in eight months. Organizer came back 20 days later against open company and ran a solid second behind Sir Halory after pressing a fast pace.

"I think he ran well since we gave him the winter off; he's come back very strong," Galluscio said. "We got beat by a pretty good horse the other day, and he comes up to this race in real good shape."

While Organizer ran well on the lead last out, Galluscio said he would "prefer to see a stalking trip" on Saturday. Organizer will break from post 2 under Cornelio Velasquez carrying 117 pounds, two fewer than Storm Boot Gold.

It is possible the Evan Shipman could determine the trainer title. Richard Dutrow Jr. led Gary Contessa by two entering the final two days of the meet. Dutrow sends out Rogue Agent, while Contessa sends out Storm Boot Gold. Both horses are front-runners and figure to duke it out on the front end. Both are also proven over wet tracks, which could be the case Saturday.

Chowder's First should offer some value in the Evan Shipman. In his first start since recovering from a tendon injury, Chowder's First was beaten 21 1/2 lengths by Premium Tap, but was never asked to run by jockey Kent Desormeaux. Dropping back with statebreds, an expected hotly contested pace, and the prospect of a wet track should bolster his chances.

Completing the field are Don't Knock America, Lord Langfuhr, Naughty New Yorker, Spite the Devil, and Tergesti.

Ward makes plans for 3-year-olds

Trainer John Ward and owner John Oxley have mapped out a plan to get their trio of 3-year-olds to the $1 million Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

Strong Contender, winner of the Dwyer Stakes on July 4, will make his next start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 6. Minister's Bid, who is 2 for 2, and Dr. Pleasure, who finished third in an allowance race last out, will both run in the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29. Ward said those plans are subject to change.

Ward said Edgar Prado would ride Strong Contender in the Haskell and Minister's Bid in the Jim Dandy. Julian Leparoux will ride Dr. Pleasure in the Jim Dandy, Ward said.

Ward said Strong Contender should appreciate the firm Monmouth Park surface and may be the best suited of the three to run in the Travers off three weeks' rest.

"This horse is a seasoned horse, and he would have had a month from the Dwyer to the Haskell," Ward said. "A horse that's raced more can do a 20-day turnaround. We'll give both Dr. Pleasure and Minister's Bid the [28] days in their own back yard."

Previously, Ward said he felt Minister's Bid was the ideal horse to run in the Haskell, but noted that the horse has had problems at the gate of late.

"He's had some gate trouble over here, and being able to train over that racetrack and stay at home is a pretty important factor," Ward said.

On Thursday, Minister's Bid worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.87 seconds over Saratoga's main track, while Strong Contender worked a leisurely five furlongs in 1:04.01 over Belmont Park's main track. On Wednesday, Dr. Pleasure worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.87 seconds over Saratoga's main track.

Spa Open House set for Sunday

Though there won't be any racing at Belmont Park on Sunday, fans who can't wait for Wednesday's opening of Saratoga can attend the 26th annual Saratoga Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free, though fans are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items, to be distributed to needy families by the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council.

The Open House will include two non-wagering races for steeplechase horses on the flat. Entered to run in one of them is Hirapour, the champion steeplechase horse of 2004 and the winner of both the A.P. Smithwick and the New York Turf Writers Cup in 2005. Trainer Doug Fout is pointing the 10-year-old Hirapour to both of those races again this year.

* Edgar Prado won three races on Thursday to move into a tie with Eibar Coa heading into the final two days of the meet.