07/24/2003 11:00PM

Gygistar as good as new in return

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Gygistar, who won the Grade 1 King's Bishop here last August, made a successful return to the races Friday at Saratoga, romping to a 5 3/4-length victory in a classified allowance race.

The race was the first for Gygistar since Feb. 9, when he finished fifth in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap. A few weeks later, after a fast workout at Gulfstream Park, Gygistar underwent surgery to remove a knee chip.

Friday, Gygistar looked none the worse for wear from the time off as he sat third in the early stages of the race, tipped three wide around the turn, seized command approaching the eighth pole, and drew clear under a vigorous hand ride from Jerry Bailey. Gygistar, a 4-year-old gelded son of Prospector's Music, covered six furlongs in 1:09.43.

Trainer Mark Hennig was using the allowance race as a prep for the Grade 1 Forego Handicap to be run here on Aug. 31.

"Perfect, couldn't have gone any better,'' Hennig said. "Obviously, you're a little concerned when you have the 1 hole, but he's got enough tactical speed, he's never too far off the lead. Jerry said he instinctively goes at the quarter pole and [he] didn't get after him.''

Gygistar has had a knack of getting injured at the worst times. Last fall, he injured a foot while getting ready for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. When he got injured in March, Gygistar was prepping for a start in the Dubai Golden Shaheen.

"He's such a good-feeling horse, he has a way of just finding trouble on his own,'' Hennig said. "None of it's ill-meant, he's got a way of playing around that he ends up coming out on the wrong end of the stick. Hopefully, we can keep him in one piece, even if we have to keep him in a rubber room till the Breeders' Cup.''

Funny Cide Day is Aug. 13

Saratoga will host Funny Cide Day on Wednesday, Aug. 13, but fans who want to see the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion better to get to the track early. Funny Cide will school in the paddock at 11:30 a.m. that day, but will not come onto the track for a public viewing during the races. Gates open at Saratoga at 11 a.m.

Fans who pay to get into the track that day will receive a commemorative poster of Funny Cide, courtesy of Daily Racing Form. In addition, fans can take advantage of a one-hour poster signing featuring members of Team Funny Cide, including jockey Jose Santos, and Jack Knowlton and Dave Mahan, two of the 10 owners of Funny Cide. A $5 fee charged for the autographs will be donated to the Anna House, the backstretch child-care facility at Belmont Park.

On Aug. 31, Saratoga will distribute Funny Cide T-shirts.

Reinstedler barn has potential

The quality of trainer Tony Reinstedler's stock has improved dramatically this year and the Kentucky-based trainer hopes that translates into a couple of visits to the Saratoga winner's circle.

Reinstedler hopes his first trip comes Monday when he sends out Aud in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lake George Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Aud, a daughter of Wild Again out of the stakes-winning mare Gail's Brush, has won two of her last three starts, both on less-than-firm turf. She finished eighth in the Grade 3 Regret, but Reinstedler believes there was an excuse that day.

"She was rank early, she didn't settle and she put herself into the race a lot sooner than she normally does,'' Reinstedler said. "Her race at Arlington was impressive because closers weren't faring well and she was going a distance that was not her best. She's a horse that has got to have pace.''

Ocean Drive, a winner of 5 of 6 starts, will be the horse to beat in the Lake George. Others pointing to the race include Beautiful America, Broadway Lady, Film Maker, Gal O Gal, Hanselina, Impolite, Indy Five Hundred, and Mariakel.

Reinstedler's best 3-year-old filly, Sand Springs, is being held out of the Lake George and will be pointed to the $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap on Aug. 17. Sands Spring finished second in the Hollywood Oaks in her last start on July 5.

"Sand Springs is doing really well,'' Reinstedler said. "I wanted to give her a little more time between races.''

Reinstedler has a good 3-year-old colt in Saint Liam, the runner-up in the Iowa Derby, who is being considered for next Sunday's Jim Dandy Stakes. Reinstedler planned to work Saint Liam on Saturday before making a decision to run.

"He's got talent to take it to the next level, but mentally he's a little slow,'' Reinstedler said. "Do I feel like he's ready for the Jim Dandy mentally? No. I want to see how he works.''

Reinstedler, who is winning at a 22-percent clip this year, has several horses with allowance conditions left and two to keep in mind are Rowans Park and More Ribbons.

"I'm happy with the way everything has gone this year, I hope to keep it going,'' Reinstedler said. "You're a reflection of your stock and this year I've got some stock that I can compete with the heavy heads.''

Awesome Humor pointed to Alabama

Awesome Humor, last year's Grade 1 Spinaway winner, who finished a troubled second in the Delaware Oaks last Sunday, will make her next start in the Grade 1 Alabama here on Aug. 16, trainer Elliott Walden said Friday.

Walden said Awesome Humor came out of the Delaware Oaks in good shape despite hitting her face against the gate when the doors opened.

"She didn't have a man in [the gate] with her, I don't know how you could be even-money and not have a man in there,'' Walden said. "She put her head down when they sprang the gate and she hit the inside pole with her nose. It took her way out of her game plan. She was seventh going under the wire for the first time.''

Walden said Awesome Humor ran a courageous race to move into contention, but flattened out in the stretch and finished second to Island Fashion.

Meanwhile, Walden said Ipi Tombe, the South African star who won the Locust Grove Handicap in her North American debut, has been galloping at Saratoga and is still on target for the Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 16. Ipi Tombe was forced to miss Saturday's Diana due to a leg injury she suffered while training in Kentucky and missed a week of training.

Walden is also the trainer of Coincide, an older half-brother to Funny Cide, who is being pointed to an allowance race during the first week of August.

Imperial Gesture: Same time, this year

Imperial Gesture is getting close to returning to the races, but she was not ready to run in Sunday's Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap. The Godolphin Racing Inc.-owned filly could run at this meet, but is really targeting the fall races at Belmont Park, the Ruffian on Sept. 13 and/or the Beldame on Oct. 4.

Imperial Gesture has not run since finishing third in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff. Trainer Tom Albertrani had hoped to run her by now, but lost time with the wet weather that hit New York this spring.

"She's very close to being ready to run," Albertrani said. "She hasn't run since November and it'd be asking a little too much first time in nine months to run in the Go for Wand. I'd like to start her off in the same kind of race as last year.''

Imperial Gesture won a seven-furlong allowance race last August before taking the Grade 1 Gazelle and Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont. Imperial Gesture also won a seven-furlong maiden race at Saratoga as a 2-year-old.

* With Anticipation, training toward a potential three-peat in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational on Aug. 9, worked five furlongs in 1:02.71 Friday over the main track With Anticipation, an 8-year-old, worked in company with stablemate Invest West, starting five lengths behind him and finishing five lengths in front.

* Jockeys Eibar Coa and Cornelio Velasquez both received 10-day careless riding suspensions as the result of incidents on Thursday's card. Both jockeys appealed their suspensions and will continue to ride.