06/10/2003 11:00PM

Iron Deputy tries to regain past glory

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The talent is obviously there, but Iron Deputy has had few opportunities to flaunt it in the past year and a half.

Iron Deputy, a 4-year-old, began his career in September 2001 and won three of his first four starts, including the Huntington and Count Fleet stakes at Aqueduct.

After such a promising start, everything went downhill for Iron Deputy. A minor leg fracture, an incident in last year's Jim Dandy at Saratoga, and a pesky quarter crack have given Iron Deputy the label of a hard-luck horse.

Iron Deputy's trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, is hopeful that the bad times are behind the son of Silver Deputy, who will face an outstanding field when he runs in Saturday's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park.

Iron Deputy, owned by John and Susan Moore, finished fourth in a March 22 allowance race at Aqueduct, his first start since he clipped heels and lost his rider, Richard Migliore, in the Jim Dandy on Aug. 4. In his next race at Aqueduct on May 4, Iron Deputy earned his way into the Grade 2 Brooklyn by winning a third-level allowance by 11 1/4 lengths. The race was run at the Brooklyn distance of 1 1/8 miles and Iron Deputy posted a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106.

"He's doing great, but he has never run against these kind of horses," Jerkens said. "The jury is out."

Migliore, who has ridden Iron Deputy in each of his seven starts, gave up the mount on last year's Preakness runner-up and Ohio Derby winner, Magic Weisner, in the Haskell to ride Iron Deputy in the Jim Dandy.

"A lot of thought went into the decision," Migliore said. "I had been impressed with Iron Deputy since he was a 2-year-old because I knew he had a great deal of ability. He certainly won't embarrass himself [Saturday]. The potential is strong, but he will have to move forward. He breezed terrific on Saturday and left something in the tank."

Iron Deputy, assigned 112 pounds, will face Grade 1 winners Volponi, Evening Attire, and Harlan's Holiday. Saarland and El Gran Papa are also definite.

The Brooklyn, which has a 5:12 p.m. Eastern post, is the first leg of the NTRA's Summer Pick 3 wager. The other races are the $250,000 Leonard S. Richards from Delaware Park at 5:27 p.m. and the $750,000 Stephen Foster from Churchill Downs at 5:44 p.m.

The races will be shown live on CBS between 5 and 6 p.m. Eastern.

Message Red injures ankle

Message Red, a winner of her last four starts for Jerkens, is sidelined with an ankle injury.

In Message Red's last start she won the Yanks Music Stakes at Belmont May 7. She was entered in last Saturday's Affirmed Stakes, but was scratched.

Two days before the Affirmed, Message Red was diagnosed with an ankle chip in her right foreleg. Dr. Patty Hogan surgically removed the chip at Dr. Scott Palmer's equine clinic in New Jersey.

Jerkens said Message Red, a 4-year-old New York-bred owned by Lansdon Robbins, will be sidelined a few months.

"The prognosis is very good," Jerkens said.

Final Round or Fircroft in Mother Goose

Trainer Rusty Arnold said if he can't make the $300,000 Mother Goose with Final Round, who finished third in last Friday's Grade 1 Acorn, he will run Fircroft, the runner-up in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Arnold said he will see how Final Round, who was a close-up third behind Bird Town and Lady Tak in the Acorn, trains before making a decision on the Grade 1 Mother Goose June 28.

"If [Final Round] bounces back really good, we'll go in the Mother Goose," Arnold said. "If not, we'll go in the Delaware Oaks [July 19]. But I would really like to run her here so I don't have to ship her. She's run at six different tracks in eight starts. If she didn't make it, I'll run Fircroft because I would like to have a filly in the Mother Goose."

Fircroft was beaten a half-length by Roar Emotion in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico May 16.

Final Round and Fircroft are both owned by G. Watts Humphrey Jr.

Roar Emotion also is expected to run in the Mother Goose.

Rain in forecast for on-the-turf Hill Prince

There is a grass stakes scheduled for Saturday and wouldn't you know it, rain is in the forecast. The $100,000-added Hill Prince will share the card with the Brooklyn.

Among the probables for the Grade 3 Hill Prince, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, are Charge, Coalition, Elusive Gentleman, Hypnotist, Il Barone, Kickin Kris, Lismore Knight, Millennium Ghost, Silver Three, and Urban King.

Hypnotist worked a half-mile in 49.65 seconds on the main track on Wednesday.

* Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin continued his hot streak by winning Wednesday's seventh race with Crete. McLaughlin has won with eight of his 16 starters at the meet.

* Shannon Uske became a seven-pound apprentice with her win in Wednesday's fifth race aboard Rose Esther.

* Karakorum Patriot, a horse trained by Linda Rice, failed to arrive in the paddock by the time the rest of the field for Wednesday's first race was saddled, and was scratched by the stewards.