05/29/2005 11:00PM

Giacomo's on schedule, but Buzzards Bay iffy


Giacomo, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Buzzards Bay, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, both worked on Monday in Southern California. But while both had been under consideration for the Belmont Stakes on June 11, it now appears only Giacomo will be heading to New York.

Giacomo, who is training at Hollywood Park with John Shirreffs, traveled seven furlongs in 1:27 with exercise rider Sabina Seibel while in company with Bullistic. It was his first drill since finishing third in the Preakness Stakes nine days earlier. Giacomo broke off behind Bullistic, and finished one length in front. Shirreffs timed him galloping out one mile in 1:41.

"We're not looking to push him," Shirreffs said. "We're looking to maintain. They went perfect."

Ideally, Shirreffs wanted to work Giacomo again next Monday and leave for New York on June 7. But because the plane is now leaving a day earlier, Giacomo's final work also has been moved up by one day to Sunday.

Shirreffs seemed satisfied both with Monday's workout and with the condition of Giacomo through the rigors of the Triple Crown. Only Giacomo and Afleet Alex, the Preakness winner, are scheduled to compete in all three legs of this year's Triple Crown.

"It surprises me a lot. His mind is good," Shirreffs said. "When he goes on the track, he doesn't get nervous. He's been pretty solid through it all."

Buzzards Bay has not raced since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby. He returned soon after the Derby to Santa Anita, where he is based with trainer Jeff Mullins. Buzzards Bay worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Monday with Mullins's wife, Amy, aboard, but Mullins said afterward that he was "leaning toward not going to the Belmont."

"We haven't really decided yet.

I have to talk to the owners," Mullins said, referring to Bill Bianco and David Shimmon. Mullins said he was weighing other options, including the Affirmed at Hollywood Park, the Ohio Derby, and the West Virginia Derby.

Meanwhile, at Arlington Park, Southern Africa, the winner of the Lone Star Derby, breezed six furlongs in 1:14 for trainer Mike Puhich.

Oratory likely to await summer races

The Belmont field often includes the winner of the Peter Pan Stakes, but Oratory, who won the Peter Pan on Saturday, is likely to skip the race and point for a summer campaign. Oratory, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable, was not nominated to the Triple Crown, and thus would have to be supplemented to the Belmont for $100,000. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114 in the Peter Pan.

Jimmy Bell, the president of Darley's United States operation, reaffirmed Monday that "it would certainly be unlikely" for Oratory to come back in the Belmont despite his stakes-record performance in the Peter Pan. Oratory ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.35.

Bell said Sheikh Mohammed would make the final decision, but the Dwyer on July 4 seemed a more likely spot.

"We're very excited about the second half of the year," Bell said. "We have a very fresh horse, an improving horse that seems to have the talent to compete at the higher end. If you don't have the Kentucky Derby winner, you would certainly like to have the freshest horse going into the second half of the season."

Two horses who chased Oratory in the Peter Pan - Reverberate and Chekhov - are expected to come back in the Belmont. Reverberate ran second, and Chekhov fourth.

Sal Russo, the trainer of Reverberate, said the Belmont is definitely under consideration, though he wished he had more time between races. If Reverberate runs in the Belmont, it would be his third race in 34 days.

"I wish it was a month from now," Russo said. "I like to give him time between his races. He's starting to act like a good horse. He's in the feed tub, he's keeping his weight. When he was younger, races got to him a little bit."

Trainer Patrick Biancone said Chekhov, beaten 12 1/4 lengths when fourth as the 3-2 favorite in the Peter Pan, is still on course for the Belmont.

"He's a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-a-quarter horse; you don't get too many like that, why not?" Biancone said. "We had a plan, we'll follow the plan. Just because something doesn't go the right way, don't change the plan as long as the horse is well."

Biancone said Chekhov would work this weekend in Saratoga.

* Watchmon, whose lone win came in an off-the-turf race at 1 7/16 miles at Gulfstream, worked three furlongs in 37.12 seconds on the Belmont Park turf Sunday. Trainer Patrick Reynolds said Watchmon is still under consideration for the Belmont and would work on dirt this weekend.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen and David Grening