12/30/2006 1:00AM

Jazil works with an eye toward Gulf Cap


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes winner Jazil moved a step closer to a return to the races by breezing four furlongs in 48.64 seconds Saturday morning over Belmont Park's training track. He worked in company with the 3-year-old allowance winner Again and Again, who was given a time of 48.66 by the clockers.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin shipped both Jazil and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Invasor here from Florida on Dec. 24 for fear that an outbreak of equine herpesvirus in several parts of Florida could lead to a ban on shipping out of the state. McLaughlin is considering both Jazil and Invasor for the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 31.

Jazil has not run since winning the Belmont on June 10. In subsequent training, he was found to have bruised a hind cannon bone. While he returned to training in early September, McLaughlin could not have him ready for the Breeders' Cup in November.

Though he didn't look at it that way at the time, assistant trainer Art Magnusson now views the time off as a blessing in disguise for Jazil.

"At the time we were disappointed that he had to miss the Travers and the Breeders' Cup, but now we're very happy he was getting that break,'' Magnusson said. "He got a little uncomfortable behind and [the bruised cannon bone] was all we could find. We were surprised how much bigger he got when he came back. The way trains is the same as far as his attitude, but he's physically bigger and stronger.''

Magnusson said that if Invasor makes it to the World Cup, it is likely that Jazil's first major goal of 2007 would become the Grade 2, $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 3.

"Jazil's goal is the Gulfstream Park Handicap but he is waiting to fill Invasor's shoes anytime he needs to,'' Magnusson said.

Is No Reply the next Jazil?

Jazil recorded his first career victory over Aqueduct's inner track in a race originally scheduled for the turf. One year later, another McLaughlin-trained colt may have launched his career with a win over the inner track in a race originally scheduled for the turf.

No Reply, a son of Deputy Commander, won a one-mile off-the-turf maiden race by eight lengths on Dec. 1. He will make his stakes debut in this Saturday's $65,000 Count Fleet, New York's first stakes for 3-year-olds in 2007.

No Reply went winless going seven furlongs in his first two starts, but showed some improvement when blinkers were added and he finished second to Marina Market in a one-mile maiden race over Aqueduct's main track. One month later, he rolled to an 8 1/2-length score going a two-turn mile over the inner track.

"Back in May he was one of the first ones we liked,'' Magnusson said. "Then he went through this growth spurt; he got taller and leggier. We were disappointed with how he ran in his first start, but Jose [Santos] said just throw it out.''

Magnusson said it was Santos who suggested blinkers for the colt.

"We don't use a lot of blinkers, but Jose suggested them after his second start and I think it's helped,'' Magnusson said.

On Saturday, No Reply worked four furlongs in 49 seconds in company with Royal Highland.

A field of five to seven is expected for the Count Fleet. Considered definite are Here to Please, Johannesburg Star, No Reply, Pink Viper, and Sir Whimsey. Believeinmenow and Summer Doldrums are listed as possible.

* With Aqueduct conducting a nine-race card on Monday, there will be no live racing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing resumes Thursday.

* Lawrence the Roman, the New York-bred son of Point Given who won all three of his races at 2, worked five furlongs in 1:02.05 Saturday at Aqueduct. Lawrence the Roman is skipping the Count Fleet and instead will point to the Whirlaway here on Feb. 10.