09/14/2006 11:00PM

Her Royal Nibs suddenly going great


ELMONT, N.Y. - Her Royal Nibs didn't make it to the races until this, her 5-year-old season. And though she was able to win a maiden race in her second start, she certainly wasn't breaking any stopwatches.

But in her last two starts, Her Royal Nibs has rewarded her connections for their patience and perseverance with two authoritative allowance wins at Saratoga. Sunday, she stands an excellent chance to win her stakes debut in the $100,000 Schenectady Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at Belmont Park.

Her Royal Nibs meets five rivals, including Gold Like U, who comes off a one-length victory in the Union Avenue Stakes last month at Saratoga.

Her Royal Nibs, who fractured her knee at age 2, was responsible for two of trainer Dale Romans's four victories at Saratoga. Assistant trainer Liz Gray believes Her Royal Nibs benefited by training at Belmont all spring and summer, which made her more fit than Romans's horses that came in from Churchill Downs.

"The horses that came from Churchill got tired at Saratoga,'' Gray said.

The big question handicappers must answer is whether Her Royal Nibs flourished at Saratoga or if she's simply a better filly now than she was in the spring and summer.

"I think she's figured it out,'' Romans said. "We've been waiting for those kind of races out of her for a while.''

Assigned 114 pounds, Her Royal Nibs will be in receipt of eight pounds from Gold Like U, who is winless in five starts at Belmont.

In the Union Avenue, Gold Like U stalked the speedy Sweet Sweet before taking over in midstretch and bounding away late to win by a length. With Sweet Sweet skipping Sunday's race, Gold Like U may turn out to be the main speed.

"If it happens, it would happen naturally, and that's an advantage,'' trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said. "Edgar [Prado] is not a 'send' jockey, and if she was able to make the lead easily, it'd be stupid to fight her.''

Fighting Speedy, Great Lady K, Carlow, and Zippy Shannon complete the field.

Invasor, 'Henny' to train in Kentucky

Even before two straight days of rain caused the disruption of his training schedule for Breeders' Cup hopefuls Invasor and Henny Hughes, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was already contemplating shipping those horses to Keeneland next month to prepare for the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.

McLaughlin is a fan of the synthetic Polytrack surface, which Keeneland will use on its main track for the first time this fall. Keeneland's training track has been a Polytrack surface since the spring of 2005.

"We plan on going down there in mid-October,'' McLaughlin said. "The Polytrack is a great track; it can handle all the weather and it's a great surface. The races are in Kentucky so we'll train there up to the Breeders' Cup.''

Invasor and Henny Hughes will remain at Belmont through their races here on Oct. 7 - Invasor is running in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Henny Hughes in the Vosburgh - but shortly thereafter will ship to Keeneland.

McLaughlin was hoping to breeze Invasor and Henny Hughes on Saturday, but was expected to push that back a day or two given the wet weather in New York, which has turned the main track into a sea of slop.

"We can work them Sunday and back [next] Saturday or we can work them Monday and back [next] Sunday,'' McLaughlin said.

Meanwhile, McLaughlin said that Belmont Stakes winner Jazil has been jogging 1 1/2 miles for the past week. Still, McLaughlin said it is "very doubtful'' Jazil will make it to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

McLaughlin said he talked with Sheikh Hamdan of Shadwell Stable, Jazil's owner, during the Keeneland sales this week.

"He said don't push the situation,'' McLaughlin said. "So that's going to make it more doubtful. If he comes easy and it happens, it happens, but it is very doubtful, and then we have to come with a plan B and C.''

One possible plan B is to run in the Japan Cup Dirt on Nov. 25.

Sharp Humor's comeback going well

Sharp Humor is coming to hand quickly for Romans in his bid to make it back following surgery to remove a chip from his left knee. Sharp Humor injured himself when he ran 19th in the Kentucky Derby.

Romans said the options for Sharp Humor's return could be the $150,000 Jerome here on Oct. 1, the $200,000 Perryville at Keeneland on Oct. 7, the $500,000 Indiana Derby the same day, or the $125,000 Hudson Handicap for New York-breds on Oct. 21.

"I really don't know yet,'' Romans said.

Sharp Humor, who won the Grade 2 Swale in March and came within a half-length of Barbaro in the Florida Derby in April, has worked four times in the last month, including a bullet-five furlong breeze in 1:00.10 here on Sept. 10.

"He's training great,'' Romans said.