07/27/2006 11:00PM

Henny Hughes super swift


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Anticipating the rain that turned Saratoga's main track into a sea of slop Friday afternoon, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin put two of his graded stakes winners through workouts over a fast track Friday morning.

Invasor, prepping for a start in next Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, worked four furlongs in 48.63 seconds under exercise rider Barry Downes. Hours earlier, McLaughlin's jaw dropped as he watched Henny Hughes drill four furlongs in 46.34 seconds under exercise rider Bernie Dalton. Henny Hughes is being pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 26.

"Scarily good,'' McLaughlin said in describing Henny Hughes's work. "But he's a fast horse. We got a perfect work out of both of them. [Henny Hughes] went a little quicker than I wanted but we're a month way.''

Invasor, a champion in Uruguay, has won the Pimlico Special and Suburban handicaps to put himself into contention for honors in North America's handicap division.

"We never thought he was going to be the Suburban winner back in February,'' McLaughlin said. "Obviously, he just did everything right. He just keeps improving and keeps running well. Sometimes you don't know till you lead them over there. His last race put him to that next level.''

Velazquez to ride Henny Hughes

Originally, McLaughlin was planning to run Henny Hughes in Monday's Amsterdam Stakes as a prep for the King's Bishop. But after Henny Hughes came off an eight-month layoff to win the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Handicap by 10 lengths while running six furlongs in 1:08.20, he changed his mind. That was his first start since running second in last year's BC Juvenile.

"He's so talented. It's hard to lead them over there every three or four weeks and think they can keep performing like that,'' McLaughlin said. "A couple that I watched, but never trained - Left Bank and Ghostzapper - they were awesome horses but they needed time between their starts.''

McLaughlin did say that John Velazquez would ride Henny Hughes in the King's Bishop and the rest of the year if he chooses. Todd Pletcher, for whom Velazquez rides first call, doesn't have a top-flight sprinter.

McLaughlin said he believes Henny Hughes could be the best sprinter in the country.

"If we can keep him healthy and sound I think they have us to beat every time we lead him over there,'' McLaughlin said.

Last summer, Henny Hughes won the Saratoga Special and finished second in the Grade 1 Hopeful over this track.

Pletcher juggling 2-year-olds

After sweeping the first round of juvenile stakes at this meeting, Pletcher began setting his sights on the next two rounds.

Pletcher said Scat Daddy came out of his neck victory over Teuflesberg in Thursay's Sanford Stakes in good order and will most likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 4. Pletcher, however, didn't totally rule out running him back in the Saratoga Special on Aug. 17.

Pletcher said the impressive maiden winner Soaring By is a definite for the Saratoga Special, Tremont winner Out of Gwedda is possible, and there is a small chance Bashford Manor winner Circular Quay could run there as well. Circular Quay is more likely to go straight to the Hopeful.

"Just trying to figure out scheduling-wise where I'm going, obviously trying to keep a few of them separated if I can,'' Pletcher said. "At some point I'm going to run Soaring By, Circular Quay, Scat Daddy, and Out of Gwedda against each other. I have to figure all that out.''

On the filly side, Pletcher said Schuylerville winner Cotton Blossom will go straight to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sept. 3. Chagall, the Debutante runner-up, is running in the Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack on Aug. 16. Octave, runner-up in the Astoria, could run there as well.

No Sleep injured, sold

No Sleep, winner of the Iowa Distaff in her last start, was injured in a workout here on July 22 and has been sold, according to trainer Gary Contessa. While Contessa said No Sleep could return to the races next year, he believes the filly was sold as a broodmare prospect.

"She strained a high suspensory ligament during a seven-furlong workout in preparation for," Monday's Ashado Stakes, Contessa said. "While she could be back racing in three to four months, we were offered a lot of money for her.''

Contessa and owner Maggi Moss claimed No Sleep for $25,000 last October. No Sleep won 6 of 10 starts for them and more than $200,000 in purse money. In her two most recent starts, she won the Fort Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth and the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows.

"Nobody wants to lose a stakes horse, but we claimed her for $25,000, made $200,0000, and sold her for a nice hefty six figures,'' Contessa said. "She's going to be a great broodmare.''

Exotic bets affected by weather

The rain that moved Friday's fifth and ninth races from the turf to the dirt triggered a relatively new rule to be enforced relating to the early pick four and pick six.

Because those races were switched to the main track after wagering had closed in those pools, those races were deemed an "all-win" for purposes of the pick four and pick six. Thus, if you had correctly selected the first three legs of the pick four, you were automatically deemed a winner. The early pick four, which included longshots Sixty Rocketts ($39.80) and Distinct Pleasure ($31.60) paid $1,936.

In the pick six, bettors only had to correctly select the winners of the other four races. But when longshots Distinct Pleasure ($31.60), and Ada's Diamond ($70) came in, no ticket had the other four winners. Those with three winners - plus the two "all-wins'' - received a consolation payout of $128.50. There was a carryover of $50,758 heading into Saturday's card.

Had the Lake George Stakes been taken off the turf, all pick six wagers would have been refunded because rules stipulate that at least four legs of the pick six must be run on their originally scheduled surface.

- Karen's Caper, whom trainer Bobby Frankel was considering running in Saturday's Grade 1 Diana Stakes, could do no better than a fourth-place finish in a second-level allowance race Friday. Breaking from the outside post in the eight-horse field, she was caught four wide entering the first turn and was wider still down the backstretch. She was beaten 2 1/2 lengths.