04/12/2005 11:00PM

Jerkens has big plans for War Plan

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Saratoga County, shown winning the Golden Shaheen, is being pointed to the BC Sprint.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Allen Jerkens was sufficiently impressed with War Plan's maiden win last month at Gulfstream Park to think he might be worthy of running in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes here on April 30.

If War Plan is as good as Jerkens believes he is, then he figures to have little trouble with four rivals in Friday's nominal feature at Aqueduct, a $43,000 entry-level allowance race for 3-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs. Jerkens isn't thrilled with cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs, but he likes the idea of getting another race into the colt.

War Plan won a maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths on March 26 at Gulfstream in his first start for Jerkens after running three times for Kiaran McLaughlin. War Plan stalked a longshot pacesetter through fractions of 22.46 seconds and 45.38 before taking over in upper stretch and finishing strongly. He covered six furlongs in 1:10.10.

"He broke his maiden impressively and in a pretty good time too," Jerkens said. "The first time they ran him, he finished in front of Flower Alley."

Jerkens was referring to a Dec. 18 race at Calder in which War Plan finished one length ahead of Flower Alley. Flower Alley won last month's Lane's End Stakes and is a contender for Saturday's Arkansas Derby.

Mike Luzzi will ride War Plan from the rail.

Concorde's Edge is the horse to catch under Pablo Fragoso. After winning his maiden via disqualification at Gulfstream, Concorde's Edge set a hot pace before finishing third behind Smokescreen and Carson's Bridge here on April 2. Concorde's Edge adds blinkers.

Turf racing returns

Not a minute too soon for the racing office, turf racing returns on Friday with three divisions of a New York-bred maiden turf race at 1 1/16 miles. Unfortunately, the three races are primarily made up of horses who were just dismal on dirt.

In the first race, Red Haze shows one good turf race in his debut, but hasn't been out in several months. R. Tillery was awful on dirt, but his trainer, George Weaver, has good statistics with horses trying turf for the first time.

In the fourth race, trainer James Bond sends out the first-time starter Easy Spur, who is a half to three turf winners. Bond is well known for having horses ready to run a distance of ground first time out and wins is an 18 percent first-out-winning trainer.

In the ninth, Buxton Hill is out of a mare who went 12 for 50 on turf.

Saratoga County taking it easy

Saratoga County, winner of the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 26, recently returned from Dubai and will get plenty of rest before returning to the races later this year.

Weaver, his trainer, said that his goal is the Breeders' Cup Sprint with perhaps two starts before then.

"At this point we feel like we'd like to put him in a position where he can retire to stud at the end of the year and the only thing to do is try to aim for the Breeders' Cup," said Weaver, who added that the Oct. 1 Vosburgh is another target. Weaver said a race at Saratoga - perhaps the Vanderbilt Handicap on Aug. 13 - could be possible.

Glenn Brookfield, the assistant to Weaver, said Saratoga County has been walking the shed at Belmont Park and won't return to the track for some time.

"He was pretty knocked out," said Brookfield, who picked up the horse from the quarantine facility in Newburgh, N.Y., last week. "He looked like a horse that's been somewhere and done a little something."

Brookfield said that Saratoga County walks twice a day and could begin walking under tack by the weekend.

"He's eating everything I throw at him, so that's a good sign," Brookfield said.

Dixie Talking to miss Comely

An already average Comely field suffered another blow on Wednesday when trainer Robin Graham told New York Racing Association officials that Dixie Talking would miss Saturday's Grade 2 race because of a bruised foot.

Graham shipped Dixie Talking here last month for the Grade 3 Cicada, which she won by 1 1/4 lengths at odds of 27-1. It was Dixie Talking's third win from four starts, and she likely would have been favored in the Comely.

A six-horse field is now shaping up for the $150,000 Comely - Acey Deucey, Bright Mahogany, Last Toots, Quite a Ruckus, Secrets Galore, and Toll Taker.

Becrux pointed to turf with McLaughlin

The Italian-bred 3-year-old Becrux, who finished last behind Blues and Royals in the UAE Derby in Dubai, is now in the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin and will be pointed to a turf campaign.

The Team Valor syndicate heads a three-way partnership that owns Becrux, who won four of five starts on turf in Italy. He won the Almutawakel Stakes on dirt by 6 3/4 lengths to earn a start in the UAE Derby on dirt.

"He's got a great stride on the grass," said Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor. "We bought him hoping he could run on the dirt. Basically, he doesn't like the dirt in his face. He ran three times in Dubai, he won once when he had an easy lead and nobody kicked dirt in his face. On the turf, he's got gorgeous action."

Irwin said Becrux could be ready to run in about six weeks.

Clever Electrician gets back to work

Clever Electrician, winner of two New York-bred sprint stakes last year, breezed three furlongs in 37.70 seconds on Wednesday over the Belmont Park training track. It was his first breeze since he finished second behind Friendly Island in last October's Hudson Handicap.

Clever Electrician raced 23 times the last two years, but he will have a lot less stressful campaign as a 6-year-old. Trainer Bruce Levine's major goals are the John Morrissey at Saratoga in August, the General Douglas MacArthur at Belmont in September and the Hudson Handicap on New York Showcase Day in October.

Last year, Clever Electrician won five of 10 starts including the Morrissey and MacArthur.

Services for Beverly Howard on Friday

Beverly Howard, the wife of jockey agent Joe Rosen, died unexpectedly Sunday at the couple's home in Toms River, N.J. She was 52.

A viewing will be held at the Anderson and Campbell Funeral Home on Main Street in Toms River from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. There also will be a memorial service at 8 p.m. Friday.

Rosen, the agent for jockey Stewart Elliott, met Howard at Monmouth Park where she worked in the mutuel department for many years. The couple had been together 10 years and were married for the last 2 1/2 years.