10/03/2006 12:00AM

Henny Hughes has McLaughlin upbeat


ELMONT, N.Y. - The disappointment trainer Kiaran McLaughlin may feel about not being able to run Invasor in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup is counteracted by his enthusiasm about being able to run Henny Hughes in the $400,000 Vosburgh Stakes the same day.

Invasor contracted a fever last Thursday, and though he returned to the main track for a jog on Tuesday morning, he missed enough training time to force him out of the Gold Cup and a meeting with leading 3-year-old Bernardini.

On the other hand, Henny Hughes has not missed a beat since returning to McLaughlin's barn in April. With powerhouse victories in the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup and Grade 1 King's Bishop on his resume and a steady work tab the last month, Henny Hughes is ready to meet defending BC Sprint winner and Belmont Park lover Silver Train in the six-furlong Vosburgh.

"No doubt we have a very, very good horse," McLaughlin said Tuesday morning. "We are very happy with Henny Hughes. We feel like we are going over there with the horse to beat."

McLaughlin said he is not as confident entering the Vosburgh as he was going into the King's Bishop, only because it will be the first time Henny Hughes meets older horses such as Silver Train, War Front, Attila's Storm, and Who's the Cowboy.

"No, I'm not as confident," McLaughlin said. "Although the horse is doing great, I have a lot of respect for the older horses. You always have to respect the older horses when you meet them for the first time as a 3-year-old."

Though Henny Hughes worked four furlongs in 46.65 seconds last Saturday, his two previous works were significantly slower.

"I do it more for soundness reasons," McLaughlin said. "We don't want him to work in 46 every week or we're going to come up with a problem. He'll go in 46 or 52 but there's not much in between."

Round Pond set for Belmont return

The last time Round Pond raced at Belmont Park, she won the Grade 1 Acorn, beating subsequent 3-year-old champion Smuggler in the process. That was 16 months and one trainer ago.

Saturday, Round Pond will return to Belmont in hopes of jumping into the race for older filly and mare champion when she takes on a solid field in the $600,000 Beldame. Round Pond, who won her first two starts of the year, including the Grade 3 Azeri BC for trainer John Servis, comes off a head loss in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher BC Handicap at Monmouth Park, her first start for trainer Michael Matz. That was also Round Pond's first start in 5 1/2 months.

"I was pretty pleased with her; she tried hard," Matz said. "It had been a long time since she'd been to the races."

Round Pond has had foot issues in the past and Matz said he had to do a little work on her feet following the Molly Pitcher. Matz said Round Pond will wear glue-on shoes in the Beldame. She wore regular Queens Plate shoes in the Molly Pitcher.

Matz said the primary goal for Round Pond is the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and by facing the likes of Balletto, Fleet Indian, Take D' Tour, and Teammate, this should be a good barometer of where she fits in the division

"When you run for that kind of money, that's what you get," Matz said. "I think, personally, whatever horse wins the Breeders' Cup probably will be the champion."

Samyn returns to action

Jean-Luc Samyn, who sustained a broken collarbone and fractured pelvis during a training hours accident at Saratoga on Aug. 8, was scheduled to make his return on Wednesday when he had one mount. He was not named on any horses on Thursday.

Samyn's return is slightly ahead of schedule. Samyn said he began getting on horses about two weeks ago and feels fit and healthy. Samyn said the biggest disappointment of being away was seeing Naughty New Yorker win two stakes with Edgar Prado on his back.

"To see my big horse win without me, that really hurt," Samyn said. "I rode him twice before that to get him ready for the big race, and sure enough this accident had to happen; but that's part of the game. You have to think it always could have been worse."

Samyn, who at age 49 is the oldest member of the jockey colony, said he had no plans to retire before the spill and certainly doesn't have any now.

"I will retire when the time comes," Samyn said. "I don't know when it's gong to be."

Samyn is seeking an agent because Doug Hatten, Samyn's agent at the time of the spill, has decided to keep Chantal Sutherland as his client.

The Green Monkey back to work

The Green Monkey, the $16 million 2-year-old in training purchase, worked three furlongs in 39.93 seconds Tuesday morning over Belmont's main track. It was his first breeze since Aug. 2, after which he was sidelined with a pulled gluteal muscle in his left hindquarters.

"We were just looking to stretch his legs a little bit first time back," trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Pletcher said The Green Monkey missed about three weeks of training following the muscle pull. He resumed training at the end of August. Pletcher said if all goes well, The Green Monkey could debut in mid-November.

Plans for Flower Alley up in air

Just before The Green Monkey breezed, Flower Alley worked four furlongs in 50.64 seconds. It was his first breeze since he finished seventh in the Woodward at Saratoga on Sept. 2. Pletcher said there is no immediate goal for Flower Alley, who also ran poorly in the Whitney.

"We're basically taking it work by work, kind of looking for him to tell us when he's ready to do something," Pletcher said. "He did basically what I expected him to this morning. We weren't looking for anything brilliant."

Spun Sugar drills for Spinster

The best work of the morning actually belonged to Spun Sugar, who under Angel Cordero went five furlongs in 1:00.24, the fastest of 26 moves at the distance. Spun Sugar, who is running in Sunday's Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland, vanned down from Saratoga where rain created several days of wet tracks.

Pletcher said logistics made it difficult to get Spun Sugar to Keeneland to breeze over the Polytrack in preparation for the Spinster.

"It was hard to get a work over Keeneland mainly because of getting everyone there and organized," Pletcher said. "I felt like I'd rather keep everything in place. It seems like the horses we've been training at Churchill have been running well at Turfway, so they either handle it or they don't. Practicing on it is probably not that big of an issue."