07/20/2001 12:00AM

Laboccetta faring well in new career


ELMONT, N.Y. - His riding career cut short by injury, Frank Laboccetta Jr. has made the often difficult transition to trainer look somewhat easy.

The 30-year-old Laboccetta, who took out his trainer's license earlier this year, has won with six of his first 19 starters, including four of 10 at the Belmont spring/summer meet. Sunday, he will attempt to win his first stakes when he sends out Pulled Out in the $75,000 Evan Shipman Stakes, Belmont's closing-day feature.

Laboccetta, the son of Frank Laboccetta Sr. of Air Forbes Won fame, claimed Pulled Out for $30,000 on April 20. That Pulled Out won his first start for $45,000 on May 20 was as much a shock to Laboccetta as it was to the bettors who let him go off at 44-1.

"He wasn't even eating right when I ran him. I couldn't believe the way he ran that day," Laboccetta said. "He surprised me because he wasn't like he is now."

Laboccetta said he has seen steady improvement from Pulled Out since that race. On June 9, Pulled Out finished second to the highly-regarded Union One. A month later, he won a preliminary allowance race against open company by one length.

Pulled Out has yet to prove himself beyond seven furlongs, but looms the main speed in the Evan Shipman and gets in with a feathery 113 pounds.

"If he gets an easy lead and he settles down a little bit, he'll stay," Laboccetta said. "He's really doing good, if you're ever going to take a shot, take it now."

Laboccetta rode for almost 10 years before he fractured his pelvis in two places in a 1999 spill at Philadelphia Park. Although he attempted a comeback, the joint in his hip had deteriorated and the pain became unbearable. His career riding totals were 123-152-154 from 1,341 mounts with career earnings of $1.78 million.

Laboccetta started out training one horse that he had gotten from his father, who retired earlier this year. A couple of friends of his wanted to claim horses, and he is now up to six. Laboccetta, who is looking forward to running Sweet Runner and Glitter Lad in Saratoga, is hoping his business expands.

"My father always had a big stable and growing up it's all I knew," Laboccetta said. "I hope to get a good claiming outfit going, that's what I like, the claiming game. The 2-year-olds are tough."

Luzzi out six to eight weeks

Jockey Mike Luzzi, who suffered a broken ankle in a gate mishap last Sunday, is expected to be out of action six to eight weeks, his agent, Roger Sutton, said Friday.

Luzzi, who had a plate and three screws inserted into his left ankle, returned home from the hospital Friday. Though he won't be able to ride during the meet, Luzzi and his family still plan to head to Saratoga for the remainder of the summer.

"It's going to be real hard [not riding]," Luzzi said. "I really thought I was going to have a good meet. It looked like we were setting up pretty good; it's disappointing. I'll be up there rooting everybody on."

Luzzi, who wanted to thank his friends for their support, was enjoying a fine Belmont meeting with a record of 23-26-26 from 220 starters and earnings of more than $1 million.

Things were going so well that Luzzi had his choice of two mounts for the Grade 1 Go for Wand, run on July 29. Luzzi said he was going to ride Critical Eye over March Magic.

Jerry Bailey has picked up the mount on Critical Eye while Richard Migliore would ride March Magic, provided she runs.

March Magic works for Go for Wand

March Magic, winner of the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap in her last start, breezed six furlongs in 1:14.65 Thursday at Aqueduct and will most likely make her next start in the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap at Saratoga on July 29.

Trainer Rick Violette said he wanted to see the weights before committing to the race. Violette said March Magic has responded to a lighter training regimen as well as plenty of time between races. This year, she has three wins and two seconds from six starts.

- A New Twist, arguably the most impressive 2-year-old filly seen at this meet, will skip Wednesday's $100,000 Schuylerville, trainer John Kimmel said. Kimmel said A New Twist would be pointed to the Adirondack on Aug. 13. But Kimmel said that A New Twist's shins were a little sensitive and that he may back off her entirely if they get worse.