05/24/2005 11:00PM

Hal's Image ran down during Preakness

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MIAMI - Hal's Image was back home at Calder on Monday afternoon following his 11th-place finish in last Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

"He ran down in both hind legs during the race," trainer Barry Rose said. "That track was very hard, very rough, and he burned right through his bandages. As a result he was probably a little ouchy during the race and couldn't quite stretch out properly."

Rose said he has no definite plans for Hal's Image's next start.

"We're definitely not going on to the Belmont," said Rose. "I think he belonged in the Preakness, but things just didn't work out for him. I will try to get a race into him here and then look around for other possibilities. There aren't any stakes for him here in the near future, but hopefully there will be something for him in the next [condition] book."

Saturday was the second time Rose has experienced the Preakness. He was also at Pimlico to help his father, Harold Rose, run Hal's Hope in 2000.

Silver Wagon preps for Met Mile

Silver Wagon turned in his final prep for Monday's Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park, working five furlongs in 1:01.06 shortly after the renovation break here Wednesday morning.

Working along, Silver Wagon went in fractions of 24.98 seconds, 37.10, and 49.20 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.91 over what has been a cuppy racetrack of late. Cornelio Velasquez will again be aboard Silver Wagon for trainer Ralph Ziadie in the Met Mile.

Skiffington expands into Florida

Tom Skiffington, a mainstay on the New York circuit for nearly two decades, has a string of eight horses stabled in south Florida this summer and is hoping to expand on that outfit in the future.

Skiffington, a former steeplechase rider, is currently running off a farm he owns about an hour's drive from Calder in Wellington, Fla., while also commuting back and forth between Florida and New Jersey, where he has an additional 12 horses stabled at Monmouth Park.

"Right now I have some horses who just have to be at Monmouth for the races they have there, but I would like to expand on my outfit down here and eventually race permanently in Florida," Skiffington said. "The farm is a perfect place for my horses. It not only has a six-furlong main track but also a little five-furlong turf course to train over as well."

Skiffington is best known for his prowess with turf horses. Among the top grass runners he has developed over the years are Maxzene, runner-up in the Eclipse Award voting for top female turf horse in 1997 and 1998, and Anka Germania, the only filly to win the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Handicap. He also trained New York stakes winners Fieldy, Glaros, Identity, Maxigroom, Milesius, and Mourjane among others.

Misfortune struck Skiffington in 2001 when his South African-bred mare, Spook Express, broke down during the running of Hollywood Park's Matriarch Handicap. The incident occurred one month after Spook Express finished second behind Banks Hill in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Skiffington's best horse at the moment is Grab Bag, who won the Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last winter and was beaten a nose in the Stage Door Betty Stakes here during the winter of 2003-2004.

Frolic for Joy stretches out

Frolic for Joy, who showed flashes of brilliance at 3 but has never quite lived up to expectations, will likely be the slight favorite over a well-matched field of optional claiming horses in Friday's $30,000 feature.

Frolic for Joy is bred to be a good horse, as a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Super Frolic and Stormy Frolic out of the seven-time stakes-winning mare Lindsay Frolic. After hitting the board but failing to win in his first four starts, Frolic for Joy improved dramatically to win his maiden by 15 lengths and his entry-level allowance condition by 10 lengths here last summer. He also earned a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure when he captured a second-level allowance race around two turns on Aug. 28.

Nevertheless, Frolic for Joy has gone winless in his last eight starts. Two of those losses have come in sprint races here earlier in the meet, efforts which should set him up nicely when he stretches back out around two turns in Friday's race.

Frolic for Joy figures to receive his stiffest competition from the late-running Supervisor, third behind Super Frolic in the Sumter Stakes here earlier this month, and old nemesis Bob's Proud Moment, who exits a fifth-place finish in the Sumter.

Cruz tightens jockey race

Jockey M.R. Cruz has closed the gap on reigning riding champ Eddie Castro, moving to within four wins of the current leader as racing resumes on Friday. A double Monday and a victory aboard Dusty Minister the following afternoon gave Cruz 30 wins for the meet. Castro countered with a single tally Tuesday to move his total to 34 winners over the first 22 days of the current meet.

Castro did miss last Saturday's card when he went to Kentucky to guide Flying Circle to victory for trainer David Fawkes in the $100,000 Open Mind Stakes over the Churchill Downs turf course.