06/25/2002 12:00AM

Jerkens considering blinkers for Dust Me Off


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Allen Jerkens doesn't think Dust Me Off's upset of highly regarded Belterra in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park should go down as the highlight of her career.

"Her career shouldn't have to end with the Bonnie Miss," said Jerkens, whose filly also beat subsequent Nassau County winner Nonsuch Bay in the March race.

But in two starts since the Bonnie Miss, Dust Me Off has finished fourth in the Nassau County and last in the Acorn. The next opportunity for Dust Me Off to upgrade her resume will be Saturday when she again takes on Belterra and Nonsuch Bay in the $300,000, Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.

Tuesday, breezed seven furlongs in 1:25.34 over Belmont's main track in preparation for the nine-furlong Mother Goose. Jose Santos, who has picked up the mount, was aboard for the work in which Jerkens added blinkers to Dust Me Off's equipment. Jerkens is still undecided whether to use the blinkers in the Mother Goose.

"Santos said he's not sure whether we should put them on or not," said Jerkens, who won the 1993 Mother Goose with Sky Beauty. "We're kicking it around."

Dust Me Off already has plenty of speed, as she showed winning the Bonnie Miss gate to wire and again in the Acorn when she dueled with You through rapid fractions before steadying entering the turn.

If Jerkens were to use blinkers, he would do so in hopes of getting Dust Me Off to focus better. Perhaps they would also help Dust Me Off behave better in the paddock, something Jerkens is concerned about.

"She hasn't been as good in the paddock as she should be, even though we school her," Jerkens said. "I don't know what's got in her mind."

A field of five is expected for the Mother Goose. Belterra, who beat Take Charge Lady in last year's Golden Rod Stakes, and Chamrousse, winner of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes last out, were expected to ship in from Kentucky on Wednesday. Nonsuch Bay and Sheba complete the expected field.

Chamrousse, Belterra breeze

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan had a legitimate reason to postpone his scheduled Monday workout at Churchill for Chamrousse. Samantha Whitehall, who has worked for O'Callaghan the last nine years and who is the exercise rider for Chamrousse, was in Las Vegas where she was engaged to Bob Netles, a partner in All-Pro Championships, a company that makes souvenir items for the Triple Crown.

Whitehall was back in Louisville Tuesday morning to guide Chamrousse through a three-furlong workout in 37.80 seconds, her final move before the Mother Goose.

"I didn't want to go particularly fast, because she blew out very fast for the Pimlico race," O'Callaghan said. "Certainly, we were on the conservative side, but she's extremely fit."

O'Callaghan said he only decided to run in the Mother Goose after he learned that both Take Charge Lady and Bella Bellucci were out.

"I didn't feel like now was the time to take on the Take Charge Ladys and the Bella Belluccis of the world," he said.

Meanwhile, probable Mother Goose favorite Belterra breezed five furlongs in 1:00 at Churchill, according to trainer Carl Nafzger. Exercise rider Tracey Wilkes was aboard for the move.

It's been a tough spring for Belterra, who ran third in the Bonnie Miss and Ashland and was forced to miss the Kentucky Oaks.

"She's back," Nafzger said. "We like where we're at."

Evening Attire home for Suburban

After considering shipping multiple stakes winner cross-country for the Hollywood Gold Cup, trainer Pat Kelly said Tuesday that Evening Attire, the Massachusetts Handicap runner-up, would most likely remain in New York and run in the $500,000 Suburban Handicap on July 6

"The timing's good, that's the main thing," Kelly said. He noted that the Hollywood Gold Cup is a week later, which would make it difficult to get ready for the Aug. 3 Whitney at Saratoga. "I've never run him long at Belmont; I've got to find out for the fall. It might affect what we would do in the fall."

On Sunday, Evening Attire breezed five furlongs in 1:01.85 over Belmont's main track.

Among the 18 nominees considered definite for the Suburban are Include, Lido Palace, Macho Uno, and Seeking Daylight. Street Cry, the impressive Stephen Foster winner, is possible as are Country Be Gold, Pleasant Breeze, and Saint Verre.

Volponi likely back to turf in Poker

, who has not run on the turf in almost a year, is likely headed back to that surface in the $100,000 Poker Handicap on July 5, trainer Phil Johnson said. Johnson said there is an outside chance Volponi could run in the Grade 2 Suburban on dirt the following day.

"I think the class of horses at the [upper] level on dirt are tougher than the ones running on turf right now," Johnson said. "I'm leaning toward the turf race."

Johnson noted that Volponi prefers a firmer dirt surface than the one at Belmont Park. Most recently, Volponi finished fourth in a money allowance race from which he emerged with two quarter-sized chunks of skin removed from a back heel. Johnson noted that problem is behind Volponi.

Volponi is 1 for 5 on turf, winning his maiden in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes as a 2-year-old in the fall of 2000. He finished fourth in both the Hill Prince and Lexington Stakes last summer on the Belmont turf.

On Tuesday, Volponi worked seven furlongs in 1:26.93 over Belmont's main track.

* Gander, last year's Meadowlands Cup winner, worked five furlongs in 59.83 seconds Tuesday morning. He may make his next start in the Evan Shipman Stakes for New York-breds on July 21.