05/03/2004 11:00PM

La Reina will go straight to Acorn


ELMONT, N.Y. - La Reina, who would have been the horse to beat in Saturday's $200,000 Nassau County Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, will skip the race in favor of the Grade 1 Acorn on June 4.

In her last start, La Reina finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 3. The filly's trainer, Shug McGaughey, said that La Reina had a few kinks that he needed to work on and that he preferred to give her more time in between starts.

"I went into [the Ashland] with a lot of confidence because she had trained really well," McGaughey said. "Johnny [Velazquez] said she was running perfect, and then at the half-mile pole she switched leads. She came out of the race a little messed up; I don't know if it was the track or what. We needed to get things straightened out, and she seems okay now."

La Reina won a maiden race at Belmont by five lengths in her second career start last September. A daughter of A.P. Indy, La Reina also won the Grade 3 Tempted and was second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle as a 2-year-old. This year, in addition to running in the Ashland, La Reina finished second in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park.

A small field, with no standouts, is expected for the Grade 2 Nassau County. Among the 3-year-old fillies pointing to the seven-furlong race are A Lulu ofa Menifee, Bending Strings, Cherry Bomb, Delta Sensation, Slewville, and Whirlwind Charlott.

A new shooter expected for the Nassau County is Grey Traffic, smashing winner of her April 4 debut at Santa Anita. Grey Traffic won her debut by 9 1/2 lengths in a six-furlong sprint. She subsequently was purchased privately by owner John Amerman and transferred from Jack Carava to trainer Bobby Frankel.

A filly by Numerous, Grey Traffic worked five furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 1:00. She earned a 92 Beyer Figure winning her debut.

Shake You Down goes for repeat in Bold Ruler

Shake You Down will be a standout when he runs in Saturday's $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap. Shake You Down, a multiple stakes winner with earnings of $1.2 million, was assigned high weight of 121 pounds for the Grade 3 race. Undefeated in three starts at Belmont, Shake You Down won last year's Bold Ruler.

The rest of the anticipated field for the six-furlong Bold Ruler includes First Blush (113), Gracious Humor (113), Key Deputy (113), and Secret Run (113). One of two horses trained by the California-based Eoin Harty - T S Eliot or Terrell - is likely to run. Sing Me Back Home and Canadian Frontier are possible to start.

At 8 years old, Gander's still got it

Gander proved that at 8 years old he still has that competitive fire by winning Sunday's Kings Point Handicap for New York-breds on closing day at Aqueduct. It was Gander's first stakes win since the Empire Classic in October 2002.

Gander has been one of the most popular horses on the New York circuit for the past several years. Before Funny Cide burst onto the scene last year with his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Gander was the poster horse for New York's breeding and racing program.

John Terranova II, Gander's trainer, said he doesn't know what is next for the gelding, but hasn't ruled out running him in open stakes because the opportunities to compete in restricted stakes are limited. The next New York-bred stakes suitable for Gander is the $100,000 Evan Shipman Handicap on closing day of the Belmont meet, July 25.

"The Evan Shipman is a long ways away," Terranova said. "I can't say for sure where he'll run, but he's run well in some big races in the past, and that will be on our minds. In years past he has gotten better as the year has gone on. Hopefully, we're going to have fun with him this year."

Dedication pointing for Just a Game

Dedication, who won her first graded race in this country in last Saturday's Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct, likely will run next in the $250,000 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 5.

Dedication, a Group 1 winner in France, is trained by Christophe Clement, who won the one-mile Just a Game last year with Mariensky.

Clement said he was very pleased with Dedication's win in the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay because it wasn't her optimum distance.

"I think the Just a Game will be a good spot for her because it's a flat mile around one turn," said Clement, who trains Dedication for Ghislaine Head. "I didn't think the [Beaugay] was the ideal distance. She's a good horse and overcame the pace, distance, and all that to win."

Clement said Snowdrops, an easy winner of an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland on April 21, is also under consideration for the Grade 2 Just a Game.

Clement's other top turf filly, Meridiana, winner of the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland on April 21, is being pointed to the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at Belmont on May 29. Clement won last year's Sheepshead Bay with Mariensky.

Frankel's Kentucky horses move to New York

Fourteen Frankel-trained horses, including Master David, who finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, were bedded down in their stalls at Belmont on Tuesday after arriving by plane from Kentucky on Monday.

Several stars from the Frankel stable, including Medaglia d'Oro, Peace Rules, and Midas Eyes, were expected to arrive from California on Tuesday afternoon. Frankel's assistants, Jose Cuevas and Ruben Loza, are in New York with the Frankel horses.

Last year at the Belmont spring meet, Frankel won nine stakes, including six Grade 1's. Frankel's wins came in the Shuvee (Wild Spirit), Metropolitan Mile (Aldebaran), Belmont (Empire Maker), Manhattan (Denon), Ogden Phipps (Sightseek), Mother Goose (Spoken Fur), Tom Fool (Aldebaran), Poker (War Zone), and Coaching Club American Oaks (Spoken Fur).

- additional reporting by Brad Free