08/12/2008 12:00AM

Heir to the Stone skips Special


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Heir to the Stone, who would have been among the favorites for Thursday's Saratoga Special, was not entered in the Grade 2 race after coming out of a weekend workout unsatisfactorily.

"He had a little crud in his lungs after his last breeze and a little bit of a shin, and I'm not looking to finish his year out in one race," trainer Rick Violette said. "They were just little things that were telling us to be patient and skip the race and do the right thing. If this was a race at the end of the year, we could go on with him, but there is a lot of racing left."

Heir to the Stone, a New York-bred son of Birdstone, won his debut on July 10 at Belmont Park by 5o3/4 lengths, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.98, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 90. Violette skipped the Sanford on July 24 because of its close proximity to Heir to the Stone's debut and had been focused on the Special.

Violette said he needed to see how Heir to the Stone trains in the coming days to determine when and where he would run next. If the shin does not become a major issue, there is a chance Heir to the Stone could make the Hopeful here on Sept. 1, though Violette is pointing his other top 2-year-old, Cribnote, to that race.

"We'll nominate both," Violette said. "Things happen."

Less is more for Ward

Trainer John Ward brought only six horses to Saratoga this summer, but he obviously chose the right group. From his first four runners, Ward has three wins and a second.

On Sunday, Dr. Pleasure, a 5-year-old son of champions Thunder Gulch and Beautiful Pleasure, finally cleared the first-level allowance hurdle, winning by six lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.81 and earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102. The win came nearly three years after he won his debut here.

Sunday's race was the first for Dr. Pleasure since undergoing throat surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis that he was diagnosed with following a seventh-place finish in the Skip Away Handicap in Florida. An entrapped epiglottis is considered rare in a 5-year-old, according to Ward.

"He's always had the potential, something always got in the way," Ward said. "After he had a couple of good races he threw in a clunker in Florida and we found this horse had an entrapped epiglottis. We did the normal procedure and he has been gangbusters ever since. Cornelio [Velasquez] said he was a totally different animal."

Ward said Dr. Pleasure could run back in another allowance race or the Massachusetts Handicap on Sept. 20. Dr. Pleasure finished third in last year's MassCap.

I'm So Lucky, who won a second-level allowance here on Aug. 2 for Ward, could run next in the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 23. I'm So Lucky, a son of Langfuhr, has won three consecutive races.

"He had a little hairline fracture last year that we just had to wait on," Ward said.

Forest Command, a 3-year-old son of Monarchos, won a first-level allowance race going seven furlongs on Aug. 9 for Ward. Plans for him are undecided at the moment. Ward said Forest Command was injured up here last year and needed to have a chip removed from his ankle. He then injured himself in a freak stall accident, suffering numerous little nicks.

"Edgar Prado got off this horse and said the same thing Robby Albarado said when he rode him - 'this is a serious animal,' " Ward said. "We really haven't mapped out anything for him yet, but maybe we'll get him around two turns."

Ward's only loser at this meet was Torini, who finished second in a first-level turf allowance race. He will likely run back at this meet.

Ward had Extreme Supreme entered in an allowance race on Wednesday. The other horse he brought here is Minister's Bid, the runner-up in the 2006 Jim Dandy. Minister's Bid won three allowance races last year, but has not run since winning one here last August.

Terranovas excited about Lake Placid chances

The good news for trainer John Terranova and his wife and assistant Tonja is that nine of their 10 starters at the meet finished in the top three. The bad news is that only one finished first.

"We're happy they're all running well; this is one of the toughest meets in the country to win races at," Tonja Terranova said. "It'd be nice to have a few more wins, but you can't be disappointed when they all run big."

The Terranovas hope they can start winning more Friday when they send out Zaskar in the Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Zaskar, a Great Britain-bred won 3 of 5 starts in Europe before being purchased by Mike Gatsas's Sovereign Stable.

Zaskar made her North American debut in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park. She was racing outside eventual winner Pure Clan before jockey David Flores had to check hard entering the far turn. She wound up 10th of 12.

"She checked really hard," Tonja Terranova said. "David said he thought he had a lot of horse and he said he took care of her after that."

Zaskar joined the Terranova stable after that race and she has been training very well over the Oklahoma turf course. Zaskar has been training in blinkers and will wear them for the first time in a race in the Lake Placid.

"With I Lost My Choo and Raw Silk in there she's going to have to step up to compete against them, but we feel confident with her going in," Terranova said.

Others pointing to the Lake Placid are Backseat Rhythm, Encanto Park, Much Obliged, Namaste's Wish, and Rosa Grace.

Law Enforcement leads cast in Van Raalte

If Law Enforcement continues his progression, he looms the one to beat in Thursday's $80,000 Van Raalte Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds going seven furlongs.

After a solid 2-year-old campaign, Law Enforcement's 3-year-old season was delayed after the horse suffered from a bout of pneumonia. He made it back to the races on Belmont Stakes Day and finished second to Megapixel in the last race on the 13-race card. Law Enforcement came back a month later and cleared the second-level statebred allowance hurdle.

Megapixel, meanwhile, came back 13 days after the June 7 race and finished third in the Mike Lee to Tin Cup Chalice. Megapixel is well rested now and figures to be Law Enforcement's toughest competition.

Also in the Van Raalte is Finger Lakes shipper Mr. Windjammer, who has finished first or second in each of seven lifetime starts.