08/26/2001 11:00PM

Glamour boy Point Given has legs


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The forces of nature conspired to treat Saratoga to a perfect Saturday and this ancient racing grounds responded with an outstanding program, a record Travers Day attendance of 60,486, a record all-sources handle of $34,529,273, and a scintillating performance by the favored Point Given, who was never better. He beat a good horse, E Dubai, by 3 1/2 lengths, after E Dubai made an ideal early pace, and left the impression he is one of the best 3-year-olds of recent years.

He is certainly one of the most popular. He was the key factor in drawing more than 100,000 people to the Haskell and Travers programs this month, and the huge crowd in the paddock here Saturday displayed an intense interest in seeing him up close and personal.

He is a box office star, and jockey Gary Stevens enhances his image by saying that he has not yet reached the bottom of Point Given, a Thunder Gulch colt who races for the Thoroughbred Corporation of Prince Ahmed Salman.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who has done a fine job with Point Given in the face of considerable pressure and critical commentary, speculates he may start him once more this fall, before an appearance in the Breeders' Cup Classic. It could be the $400,000 Goodwood at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 7 or the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 6.

In either case Point Given will ensure considerable excitement and a full house, both rare these days. And if the eagerly anticipated meeting with Europe's crack 3-year-old, Galileo, takes place in the Breeders' Cup Classic, we might see one of the most memorable moments in American racing.

Squirtle Squirt impressive in King's Bishop

One of the highlights of Saturday's outstanding card was the resounding victory of the 3-2 favorite, Squirtle Squirt, in the $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes, a Grade 1 feature at seven furlongs. A promising 2-year-old last season, Squirtle Squirt, a Marquetry colt, was transferred to the care of Bobby Frankel, who saw him as a top sprinter. He had excellent seconds in two stakes at Hollywood Park and then came here to win the King's Bishop under Jerry Bailey.

Squirtle Squirt went to the front early in the King's Bishop, opened a commanding lead in the stretch, and won by more than three lengths, after getting the seven furlongs in 1.21.97. City Zip, previously undefeated in Saratoga competition, challenged Squirtle Squirt in the upper stretch and came out second best.

Another interesting race on Travers Day was the $200,000 Fourstardave at 1 1/16 miles. In a competitive field of 12, Dr. Kashnikow, a gelded son of El Gran Senor who went off at 6-1, finished strongly from well off the pace to register by three-quarters of a length. John Velasquez rode Dr. Kashnikow, who won 4 of 6 starts this season under the care of trainer John Kimmel. Spindrift, the 2-1 favorite finished fifth, beaten a nose for fourth money.

Jerkens strikes again

The giant-killer hasn't lost his touch.

Allen Jerkens, who earned his nickname by defeating Secretariat on two occasions with horses of modest stature, and who trained a number of other celebrated upsets, added to his credits Sunday by saddling 21-1 Shine Again to capture the $250,000 Ballerina Stakes for fillies and mares, a Grade 1 race at seven furlongs.

Dream Supreme, the 1-2 favorite after her brilliant triumph in the Princess Rooney at Calder, challenged Shine Again and the pacesetting Imadeed in the upper stretch but couldn't sustain her drive and finished third, behind Shine Again and Country Hideaway. Did Shine Again win it or did Dream Supreme give it up? The bottom line is still to be written.

Jerkens said he will consider Shine Again for the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 15, though the Hall of Fame trainer feels that the Wild Again filly prefers the first seven furlongs best. Bill Mott says that Dream Supreme is a possibility for the Gallant Bloom Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont on Sept 29.