06/23/2002 11:00PM

Goose loses another star


ELMONT, N.Y. - Already weakened by the defection of Take Charge Lady, Saturday's Mother Goose Stakes took another hit Monday when trainer Neil Drysdale confirmed that Bella Bellucci will skip the Grade 1 race due to a slight injury.

"She's got a sore muscle in her back,'' Drysdale said from his barn at Hollywood Park. "No big deal. It's left over from the race where she couldn't handle the track.''

Drysdale was referring to the Grade 1 Acorn where Bella Bellucci finished third as the 3-5 favorite. The race was run over a wet fast track, and according to Drysdale, Bella Bellucci was slipping over it.

This is the second Grade 1 race Bella Bellucci has missed this year. In May, a low blood count forced Drysdale to scratch her out of the Kentucky Oaks. She has only run three times this year with wins in the Santa Paula Stakes and the Grade 3 Comely.

Drysdale believes Bella Bellucci has the pedigree to get the 12 furlongs of the Coaching Club American Oaks, run on July 20, but she may not be properly prepared to make that race. Moreover, Drysdale fears by running her 12 furlongs, it could knock her out for the rest of the summer and early fall.

With Bella Bellucci and Take Charge Lady out, the Mother Goose will likely draw a field of five or six. Belterra, a stakes-winner at 2 and coming off a sharp allowance win on June 6, is likely to be favored. Based at Churchill Downs, Belterra was expected to breeze Tuesday and ship Wednesday or Thursday.

Chamrousse, the Black-Eyed Susan winner, will run in the Mother Goose with Edgar Prado aboard, trainer Niall O'Callaghan confirmed Monday. Chamrousse was also expected to breeze Tuesday at Churchill.

Dust Me Off, who beat Belterra in the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream; Nonsuch Bay, the Nassau County winner, and Seba are considered the other definite runners. Charitable Donation is possible.

Jerry Bailey has picked up the mount on Nonsuch Bay, who comes off a 22-length trouncing by You in the Acorn.

McLaughlin flourishes in new role

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has taken on a bit of a different role this summer and though his stakes opportunities may be limited, he's enjoying it immensely. Through Sunday, McLaughlin has saddled six winners from 23 starters at this meet.

Many of the horses McLaughlin has at Belmont this summer are horses that used to run in the blue silks of Godolphin Racing Inc. They now run under Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's name representing Darley Stud Management or Gainsborough Farm.

"Godolphin has the top of the shelf horses,'' McLaughlin said. "The ones I get are the ones they think don't quite need to be in Godolphin's colors. Most of the horses I have are the ones Eoin Harty had last year that they brought back. It's worked out great. I'm very happy to be in the position I'm in. Everybody is part of a big team.''

Though McLaughlin says "I won't be winning any group races,'' he will saddle Seba in Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose and is planning to run Jilbab, a recent runaway winner in an allowance race, in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at the end of the meet.

Dubai Fall, an impeccably bred 3-year-old filly, ran second in Saturday's Serena Song Stakes at Monmouth for McLaughlin.

Sunday Break back to work

While Bella Bellucci may be sidetracked, Drysdale's top 3-year-old colt, Sunday Break, began preparing for his summer campaign with an easy three-furlong move in 37.30 seconds Sunday morning at Belmont.

Sunday Break, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes and Wood Memorial, will make his next start in either the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park or the Jim Dandy at Saratoga - both are run Aug. 4 - in preparation for the Travers on Aug. 24.

"I'm probably leaning toward the Haskell,'' Drysdale said, noting the $1 million race is worth twice as much as the Jim Dandy.

Pick four Super Saturdays at Spa

Each Saturday during the Saratoga meet, the New York Racing Association will guarantee $500,000 in the pick-four pool, management announced Monday at its annual Saratoga press conference held in upstate New York. On Travers Day, the guaranteed pick-four pool will be $1 million.

The pick four is offered on the final four races of each racing card with the exception of Travers Day when the wager will include all stakes - the Ballston Spa, Fourstardave, King's Bishop, and Travers.

- Lord Ofthe thunder, a recent second-level, statebred allowance winner, drilled four furlongs in 46.63 seconds Monday - the fastest by two seconds of nine half-mile works at Aqueduct - in preparation for Saturday's Mike Lee Handicap. No Parole, also working towards the Mike Lee, covered the same distance Monday in 49.51 seconds at Aqueduct.

Others pointing to the Mike Lee are Private Emblem, Trial Prep, Say Cousin Lenny, Smokieisabandit, Seeking the Money, North of Dixie, Rogue Agent and Mr. Determined.

* Jockey Filiberto Leon on Monday began a seven-day suspension for a careless riding incident that caused his mount, Storm City, to be disqualified from third to fifth in Saturday's first race. By invoking the designated race rule, Leon has permission to ride this Saturday's Mike Lee - where he's expected to ride Mr. Determined - but it means he will have one day added to his suspension.

- Buddha, the Wood Memorial winner who is prepping for the Dwyer Stakes on July 7, worked six furlongs in 1:16.04 Monday over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track. Nothing Flat, the Leonard Richards runner-up also pointing for the Dwyer, worked five furlongs in 1:01.07 Monday at Belmont.