04/03/2007 11:00PM

Invasor’s schedule excludes long vacation


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Fresh off his victory in last Saturday’s $6 million Dubai World Cup, reigning Horse of the Year Invasor was scheduled to return to his Belmont Park base Wednesday afternoon to prepare for what will most likely be a three-race summer/fall campaign.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who arrived in New York from Dubai on Wednesday morning, said the remaining targets for Invasor will most likely be the $400,000 Suburban at Belmont Park on June?30, the $500,000 Woodward on Sept. 1 at Saratoga, and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27. The Whitney on July 28 at Saratoga could be possible, McLaughlin said, if the Suburban turned out to be an easy race on Invasor.

McLaughlin said Invasor came out of his Dubai World Cup victory in excellent shape and that his handlers needed a lip chain to walk the horse on Tuesday in Dubai. McLaughlin said that while Invasor would walk for several days upon his return, he will resume regular training next week.

“I don’t believe in stopping on them coming back from Dubai,” McLaughlin said. “Some people have made that mistake of giving them 30 days off, then you have the old start-up blues trying to get them going again. We’ll work him in a month to six weeks. The way he gallops he doesn’t need to work that much anyway.”

Last year, Invasor finished fourth in the UAE Derby but returned to North America to reel off victories in the Pimlico Special, Suburban, Whitney, and Breeders’ Cup Classic en route to earning Horse of the Year honors.

Sheikh Hamdan not upset with Jara

Despite Invasor’s brilliant victory in the World Cup, two overseas newspapers quoted the colt’s owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum, as being critical of jockey Fernando Jara’s ride. But McLaughlin said that is not the case.

One paper quoted Hamdan as being upset by Jara’s looking back at certain points in the race. A second paper quoted Hamdan as being upset with Jara for apparently easing up on Invasor, thus allowing Premium Tap an opportunity to come back at him in the stretch.

McLaughlin said Hamdan told Rick Nichols, the racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stable, that he was misquoted and that he was not critical of Jara in any way.

“Sheikh Hamdan was upset; he doesn’t even know where that came from,’’ McLaughlin said. “He was full of praise of Fernando’s ride and tickled to death for the great victory.”

Quarter crack derails Attila’s Storm

Attila’s Storm will be forced to miss Saturday’s Grade 1 Carter Handicap due to a quarter crack in his left front foot, trainer Richard Schosberg said Wednesday.

“Nothing major, just bad timing,” Schosberg said. “He was pretty darn sore on it the other day.”

Schosberg said there was a remote possibility that Attila’s Storm could make the Commonwealth next weekend at Keeneland. But, he added, the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park on May 12 is a more likely scenario.

“We were in the process of patching it, but we have to redo some work on it,’’ Schosberg said. “We’ll see what it looks like in the next couple of days. If we don’t make the Commonwealth, the Bold Ruler is a distinct possibility.’’

Attila’s Storm was coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan Handicap in his last start, the first graded win of his career.

Main track: So far, so good

The main track at Aqueduct passed its first major test on Wednesday, as there were no reported problems on the first day of the meet despite the fact that all nine races were run on a sloppy, sealed track. Last fall, the main track had problems handling water as two full cards were canceled and three more were moved to the inner track due to inclement weather.

“I guess they were prepared for it – it was pretty sealed,’’ jockey Mike Luzzi said. “It’s gathering water on top, but it’s okay; they’re getting a hold of it. I would have liked to have seen a nice sunny day for this track. Hopefully it’s cleaned up by Saturday.’’

John Passero, director of racing surfaces for the New York Racing Association, added some sand to the main track in hopes of helping it handle water better.

The sloppy track didn’t slow down Ramon Dominguez, who won three races on the card. Alan Garcia won two.

Passero also gave the racing office the go-ahead to card the first turf race of the season on Saturday. A full field of maidens was entered for the 1?1/16-mile event.

Sweet Sugaree fits well in feature

Sweet Sugaree, who encountered early trouble in her return to the races back in February, may need just a clean break to clear the first-level allowance condition in Friday’s nominal feature over the main track.

Away from the races for nine months, Sweet Sugaree was bumped hard coming out of the starting gate and then bobbled a few strides later. She found herself behind horses and ended up finishing fourth behind Waytotheleft, who came back to win the Broadway Handicap in her next start.

Sweet Sugaree had her best success on the front end, winning a maiden race at Louisiana Downs on Dec. 31, 2005 and finishing second in the Mt. Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park the following February.

She could be the controlling speed under Eibar Coa in this one-mile event.

o Apprentice rider Joseph Talamo, who won the riding title at Fair Grounds, went 1 for 6 in his New York debut, taking the fourth race aboard Al’s Lark ($3.30). Talamo, 17, will only be staying here through Saturday before returning to Southern California, where he enjoyed success in a three-day trial period last weekend.