07/30/2004 12:00AM

Lion Heart primed for Haskell


OCEANPORT, N.J. - After watching Lion Heart train Friday morning in Saratoga, trainer Patrick Biancone is looking forward to running the Kentucky Derby runner-up in Monmouth Park's Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 8.

Lion Heart, winner of Monmouth's Grade 3 Long Branch Stakes last out, blazed five furlongs in 58.52 seconds early Friday morning over the Saratoga main track. It was the first work of the day and the fastest of 60 recorded at the distance. Clockers timed Lion Heart galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.60 and seven furlongs in 1:26.

Wet weather prompted Biancone to postpone the workout from Tuesday.

"He never worked like that in his whole life," Biancone said. "I took a bit of a gamble to not work him too much and to use the Long Branch as a stepping-stone, because we have two big fights to come, and he answered it very well. He did it so easy, so fluently, so happy. We feel very well, very confident. He was just brilliant. He's going to be very difficult to beat."

Biancone said Lion Heart would have an easy work in the middle of next week and ship down to Monmouth the morning of the race.

Biancone confirmed that Joe Bravo would get the mount back for the Haskell, a race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. Bravo, riding Lion Heart for the first time in the Long Branch, guided the chestnut son of Tale of the Cat to a head victory over My Snookie's Boy.

"This is a nice speed horse," said Bravo. "He had a nice race over the track. He has won over it. A lot of people might think the last race was not impressive, but My Snookie's Boy is nobody to snarl at."

Bravo has had five mounts in Monmouth's premier event. His best finishes were seconds aboard Storm Tower (1993), Meadow Flight (1994), and Dr. Caton (1996).

Two California fillies target Trenton

Cherish Destiny and Absolute Nectar form a solid entry from Monmouth Park's "Hotel California" for the $55,000 Trenton Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday.

Kelly Breen's centrally located barn has become a preferred location for West Coast runners when they visit the Jersey Shore. Breen played host to Meteor Storm, trainer Wally Dollase's turf star, in the days leading up to the Grade 1 United Nations.

Trainer Doug O'Neill sent Cherish Destiny to Breen in June. She ran fifth in the Funistrada Stakes at Belmont Park before bouncing back to take Monmouth's Dearly Precious Stakes on a disqualification.

O'Neill flew in Absolute Nectar on Tuesday to enhance his chances in the Trenton, a five-furlong turf race.

The two fillies are in fine form, each having posted a Beyer Figure of 84 in her last race.

"Cherish Destiny is doing well," said Breen. "So is Absolute Nectar."

They have complementary styles.

Absolute Nectar runs best when setting the pace. Cherish Destiny, who will make her turf debut, also has speed but prefers a stalking trip.

Both will start even if the race is taken off the turf, Breen said.

Monmouth turf sprints are usually highly competitive, and the Trenton looks like it will uphold the tradition.

The race attracted Silver Wench, a commanding winner in her lone turf sprint at Churchill Downs.

Smokey Glacken, winner of the Grade 3 Valley Stream Stakes at Aqueduct last November, will make her turf debut. She has not raced since finishing third in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February.

Smokey Glacken owns a victory over Monmouth's main track, having captured the Forward Gal Stakes last September.

Ignacio out at least six weeks

Apprentice rider Rudy Ignacio will miss six to eight weeks with a broken right leg. He was injured when he fell off Princess Krista after the fourth race at Monmouth Park on Thursday.

"He broke the fibula in his right leg," said Albert Barrera, Ignacio's agent. "They're deciding whether to go with a cast or a splint."

Ignacio, a 20-year-old native of Guerrero, Mexico, had two winners from 52 mounts.

- additional reporting by David Grening