04/27/2002 12:00AM

Harlan, Saarland looking good


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Saturday was a feel-good kind of morning for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, the crisp, cool temperatures having most of the prospective starters on their toes before, after, and especially during their gallops.

A number of horses made positive impressions during training hours Saturday, including likely favorite Harlan's Holiday, who had a busy morning. With exercise rider Helen Pitts aboard, Harlan's Holiday jogged once around, going clockwise first, then reversing directions at the seven-eighths pole, then galloping a brisk mile and three-eighths.

For the second straight morning Saarland made a grand appearance, looking relaxed and confident during his 1 1/2-mile gallop.

Straight Gin, who remains unlikely as a Derby participant because he needs three defections to get into the race, was the only worker among the group, breezing five furlongs shortly after the renovation break.

Straight Gin (five furlongs in 59.97 seconds), with exercise rider Jamie Sanders aboard, went off at a fairly brisk pace, getting his opening three furlongs in 34.83 seconds. He was under light urging through the stretch, coming home the final quarter mile in 25.14 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.26.

Like Straight Gin, Sunday Break will need some help and a lot of luck to get into the starting lineup. That is unfortunate for his connections considering how well he is training. Saturday was no exception as he again galloped a strong mile and three-eighths with his neck bowed.

Proud Citizen was also eager to strut his stuff early Saturday morning, galloping vigorously after visiting the paddock accompanied by trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, aboard his stable pony.

Essence of Dubai returned to the track for the first time since working seven furlongs on Thursday and after a 1 1/4-mile gallop bucked and kicked his way back to the barn, an indication he is both enjoying the cool weather and feeling pretty good about himself and his surroundings this week.

Private Emblem continues to look good, while Medaglia d'Oro and War Emblem were among the others who were on their toes during Saturday gallops.

Bella Bellucci was the only entrant in Friday's Oaks field to work, going seven furlongs under the cover of darkness in 1:30.79 seconds.

With regular exercise rider Marcelino Olguin up, Bella Bellucci was well in hand while posting splits of 13, 26.31, 39.26, 52.47, and 1:04.47 before galloping out a mile in 1:45 and change. She was never asked to extend herself at any point of the work.