08/19/2004 11:00PM

Lion Heart sizzles in Travers work

Email

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Lion Heart showed no ill effects from his front-running victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational as he blitzed through a five-furlong workout in 58.67 seconds Friday over Saratoga's main track.

The work, the fastest of 22 at the distance, will be Lion Heart's only breeze before heading to the post as the probable favorite in next Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes.

"He worked really good this morning," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "We're very happy. Now we have our fingers crossed. He worked the same as before the Haskell."

Biancone said Lion Heart is a different animal than he was this spring when he finished second in the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness. "He just has matured very much," Biancone said. "He's put on 30 pounds of muscle and he's stronger. To run the way he likes to run you got to be very strong."

Biancone said he is not overly concerned about running Lion Heart back 20 days after running such a big race.

"The goal was to bring him perfect for the Haskell and try to hold him there for 20 days," Biancone said. "It might be easier to maintain him for 20 days than 60 days."

Zito works two for Travers

Trainer Nick Zito took advantage of dry track conditions Friday morning to work two of his three starters for the Travers.

The Cliff's Edge, runner-up in the Dwyer and Jim Dandy in his last two starts, worked five furlongs in 1:01.21 in company with Broadway View, who was timed in 1:02.72. Sir Shackleton, the West Virginia Derby winner, went five furlongs in 59.61 seconds by himself.

Birdstone, Zito's Belmont Stakes winner, was scheduled to work over the weekend.

Zito said The Cliff's Edge got his last quarter in 23.80 seconds under exercise rider Maxine Correa. "He did it nice and easy," Zito said. "He looked good doing it."

Carlos Correa worked Sir Shackleton, whose time was the second best of 22 at the distance. His move was similar to his July 31 move before the West Virginia Derby.

Ema Bovary likely done for the year

The effects of a hard campaign have apparently caught up to the leading female sprinter, Ema Bovary.

Trainer Larry Ross said Friday from San Francisco that Ema Bovary will not make the cross-country trip to Saratoga for next Sunday's Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap. Ross further went on to say that Ema Bovary would likely not run again this year. Her first target for 2005 would be the Santa Monica Handicap, a Grade 1 race run at Santa Anita in mid-January.

"After her last work," a five-furlong move in 58.40 seconds on Aug. 14 at Golden Gate Fields, "we were all set to get on the plane," Ross said. "But the last couple of days she hasn't been training up to par."

Ema Bovary, a Chilean-bred, has won 10 of 12 starts since coming to this country in 2003. Her graded stakes wins came in the Las Flores Handicap and Princess Rooney Handicap. Her lone loss came in the Desert Stormer Handicap where she was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Coconut Girl while conceding that rival 10 pounds.

Mambo Slew heads Lake Placid field

Mambo Slew, who won the Grade 3 Sands Point Handicap at Belmont in June, heads a field of seven to nine 3-year-old fillies expected to run in Monday's Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

After winning the Sands Point, Mambo Slew shipped to Southern California for the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park. She didn't have the best of trips in that race yet was only beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

"She was bumped at the start a little bit and she was too far behind, but she finished strong," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "She was last coming into the stretch and there was no pace. She ran a good race; she wasn't beat by 25 lengths."

Edgar Prado, aboard for Mambo Slew's win in the Sands Point, has the call for Monday's race. On Friday, Mambo Slew worked an easy half-mile in 50.09 seconds over a soft turf course.

Alumni Hall making up for lost time

Alumni Hall had the pedigree to be a stallion whether or not he made it to the races. But his connections showed patience and now are being rewarded for it. Sunday, Alumni Hall could break through with his first graded stakes win when he meets Funny Cide in the Grade 2, $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Alumni Hall, a 5-year-old half-brother to Grade 1 winner Secret Status by A.P. Indy, didn't debut until April, when he won a 6 1/2-furlong race at Keeneland. After losing a one-turn route race at Belmont, he breezed through two allowance conditions before winning the Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington on July 10.

Trainer Neil Howard said "arthritic muscular-type things" delayed Alumni Hall's career.

Though Alumni Hall won at Arlington, Howard said he didn't want to run him back in three weeks in the Washington Park Handicap at that track.

"We were a little concerned about running him back a little too quick and the Whitney was too much of a jump," Howard said. "We thought it'd be better to wait a little extra time and point to the Saratoga Breeders' Cup."

Santos will be rooting from afar

Jose Santos won't be on Funny Cide's back for the only second time in 19 starts on Sunday, but he will be rooting for his Kentucky Derby-winning gelding from his south Florida home.

"Oh definitely, of course," Santos said Friday morning from South Carolina, where he was in the middle of driving his family back home to Florida. "I'm part of the team. He's the horse that gave me the thrill of my life."

Santos said it was "heartbreaking" not to be on Funny Cide for his Saratoga debut.

"The most famous New York-bred is going to run first time at Saratoga," Santos said. "It's going to be heartbreaking, definitely."

Santos suffered a broken right arm July 23 when he was thrown from his mount in the paddock at Belmont Park. He said he would be back in Saratoga on Wednesday and hopes to be riding by next weekend.