07/27/2007 11:00PM

Lady Joanne preps for Alabama


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - For trainer Carl Nafzger, the first week of the Saratoga meet is all about preparation.

On Sunday, he ran his top 3-year-old - the Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense - in the $500,000 Jim Dandy as a prep for the $1 million Travers on Aug. 25. On Monday, Nafzger will run his top 3-year-old filly, Lady Joanne, in the $80,000 Banshee Breeze with an eye on the $600,000 Alabama here on Aug. 18.

The Banshee Breeze, named for the 1998 Alabama winner and champion 3-year-old filly trained by Nafzger, drew a field of five including 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever. It will be contested at 1 1/8 miles over the main track.

Lady Joanne, the only 3-year-old filly in the field, is coming off a solid second-place finish behind Octave in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont on June 30. Though that race snapped a three-race winning streak for Lady Joanne, she proved to Nafzger that she belongs in top company.

"I thought for what we were looking for - to see if she can even run against these kind - it was a super race," Nafzger said. "She's a nice filly."

Lady Joanne prepped for the Banshee Breeze with a strong five-furlong move in 59.20 seconds over the main track last Thursday.

"We needed a good work from her," Nafzger said. "She's done too good after the Mother Goose."

Lemons Forever has only one win since her upset score in last year's Kentucky Oaks. That victory came two starts back on the turf. Most recently, she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Locust Grove on the turf. Trainer Dallas Stewart said Lemons Forever came out of that race with a lung infection. Stewart thought about keeping her on the turf, but didn't like the distance of an overnight stakes.

"It was just a mile," he said. "I thought the mile and an eighth, she might like that a little better. She worked good on the dirt, and she ran third in the Alabama."

Leo's Pegasus, trained by Neil Howard, enters the race off a second-level allowance win at Churchill. Two starts back, she finished second in the mud to Ginger Punch, who won the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap and who ran in Saturday's Go for Wand.

Dream Rush works before rain

Trainer Rick Violette handicapped the weather and John Passero, the director of racing surfaces, very well.

Violette worked Prioress Stakes winner Dream Rush at 7:45 a.m. over a dry, fast track. Twenty minutes later, it began to rain and 20 minutes after that, Passero decided to seal the main track, which prompted many other horsemen to postpone or move their works to the Oklahoma training track.

Dream Rush, prepping for Saturday's Grade 1 Test, went four furlongs in 49.99 seconds in what was basically a maintenance move after working fast earlier in the week.

"She had her big work last week," Violette said. "I was going to breeze her [Sunday], but I was afraid of the rain. We got it done, that's all we needed to do, let her gallop around there a little bit."

Dream Rush will likely vie for favoritism in the Test with Cotton Blossom, who beat Dream Rush in the Acorn at Belmont before finishing third in the Delaware Oaks.

Bobby Frankel was one trainer who elected to move his scheduled workouts from the main track to the Oklahoma training track after the break. His Test filly, Down, went five furlongs in 1:02.21 over a harrowed track that was labeled fast, but had plenty of moisture in it.

Down, who finished third in the Grade 1 Starlet as a maiden last year, is coming off a maiden win on turf last out at Belmont.

Others pointing to the Test include Akronism, Appealing Zophie, Astor Park, Boca Grande, High Again, Sheets, Silver Knockers, and Time's Mistress. Shesa Little Flirt and Debbie Got Even are possible. High Again, second to Lady Joanne in the Regret, breezed four furlongs in a bullet 47.88 seconds over the training track.

Outside post wanted

Silver Knockers, second in the Grade 1 Prioress, worked a bullet four furlongs in 47.44 seconds Thursday over the training track.

"She worked unbelievable [Thursday] morning and couldn't be doing any better," Zito said. "I just hope we can get a little luckier with the post position draw. She was compromised by inside posts in the Forward Gal, Miss Preakness, and Prioress. I hope she draws the seven for the Test or something on the outside for a change."

Silver Knockers, a homebred daughter of Silver Deputy, finished second after a tough trip in the Grade 2 Forward Gal, second in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness, and third in the Grade 1 Prioress.

Arroyo expected back this week

Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., involved in the same spill that left fellow jockey Andrew Lakeman paralyzed, could return to the saddle this week.

Arroyo, who suffered a broken collarbone in that May 26 spill at Belmont Park, was supposed to get on horses on Saturday morning, but his two scheduled workers were canceled when the rain came. Arroyo said he had several horses to work Sunday.

"I'm feeling very, very good," Arroyo said. "I could've been back two weeks ago, but I took an extra two weeks, working in the gym, exercising. Working with a personal trainer helped me out a lot."

Arroyo said he spent a good part of his down time visiting friends and relatives in Puerto Rico, Boston, and Florida.

Sugar Shake to Personal Ensign

Sugar Shake, who won two graded stakes to kick off her 4-year-old campaign, worked five furlongs in 59.54 seconds Friday morning over Saratoga's main track. She is being pointed to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap here on Aug. 24.

Sugar Shake, trained by Bobby Frankel, has not run since finishing second to Teammate in the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap on May 19.

"She had an ankle blow up on her," Frankel said. "We had to stop on her a little bit."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch