10/02/2002 11:00PM

'Icecold,' Pretty Wild benefit from Zavata scratch


ELMONT, N.Y. - An injury to his left hind ankle has knocked Zavata out of Saturday's $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, strengthening the chances of Icecoldbeeratreds and Pretty Wild of winning the Grade 1 race.

Trainer Patrick Biancone said on Thursday that Zavata had filling in his left hind ankle, possibly from kicking his stall wall. While it will prevent Zavata, the Tremont and Saratoga Special winner, from competing in the Champagne, Zavata will be trained up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 26, according to Biancone. He will leave Monday along with Whywhywhy and Stellar for Arlington Park.

"We found a bit of swelling in his left hind ankle," Biancone said. "It's nothing serious. If it happened five or six days before the race, it would have been okay. But it happened 48 hours before the race. He may have kicked a wall or something like that."

With Zavata out, Biancone entered the maiden Brancusi in the Champagne, though he is also entered in Sunday's Grey Breeders' Cup at Woodbine. Brancusi would be a longshot in the nine-horse Champagne, which is run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Icecoldbeeratreds, the Del Mar Futurity winner, and Pretty Wild, runner-up in both the Hopeful Stakes and Futurity, should vie for favoritism in the Champagne. A win by either would be his first in a Grade 1.

Icecoldbeeratreds, a speedy son of In Excess, ships in from California for trainer Bob Baffert, who won last year's Champagne with Officer. Like Officer, Icecoldbeeratreds is coming off a victory in the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs.

"He's a very talented horse, he's a very fast horse, he's got a really efficient stride on him," Baffert said. "He's got a smooth way of running. He's as quick as Officer; he has that kind of talent. I don't know how far he will carry it."

Jerry Bailey will ride Icecoldbeeratreds from post 7.

If Icecoldbeeratreds flashes his typical speed, he may have to deal with Desert Warrior on the front end. Desert Warrior breaks from the rail under John Velazquez.

Trainer Stanley Hough would like a speed duel to develop for Pretty Wild, who should work out a stalking trip under Shaun Bridgmohan from post 9. Pretty Wild found himself on the lead in the Hopeful, when he was beaten by Sky Mesa. In the Futurity, Pretty Wild rated kindly under Bridgmohan, but could not catch Whywhywhy, who got first run on Pretty Wild en route to his third straight stakes win.

"He ran a good race," Bridgmohan said. "[Whywhywhy] spurted away from him at the top of the stretch, but at the end it seemed like he was gaining on him a bit. I don't see him having any problem with the extra distance."

If the confidence of horse and trainer counts for anything, take a look at Desert Warrior, a sharp allowance winner here on Sept. 7. Peter Hutton, the assistant to two-time Champagne-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, said Desert Warrior has trained exceptionally since that race and acts like a different horse than he was earlier in the year when he threw in a couple of clunkers.

"His last two works after that race were without a doubt the best he's ever looked," Hutton said. "His confidence level is at an all-time high. I don't think this guy necessarily has to have the lead. Before he was a little one-dimensional because he was immature. Now he's gotten to the point where he's figured out what it's all about. The way he's doing right now, absolutely nothing concerns me."

Erinsouthernman and Outer Reef come off solid maiden wins. Risky Cat stretches back out to a route and goes turf to dirt after winning the Kimberlite Pipe Stakes at six furlongs on turf.

Mid-Atlantic shippers Toccet and Cape Good Hope get tested for class.