08/15/2008 12:00AM

Macho Again works out his own way


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Final Travers preparations for Jim Dandy winner Macho Again didn't exactly go as planned Friday morning.

Expected to breeze an easy half-mile over the Oklahoma training track, Macho Again's work was canceled when the horse developed gas following his Lasix shot. Trainer Dallas Stewart walked the horse for an hour in the shed row, and, after being examined by Dr. James Hunt, Macho Again was given clearance to train.

Opting to play it safe, Stewart took Macho Again to the track, but only for a jog. Stewart was aboard his stable pony while Macho Again went twice around the training track under exercise rider Ken Bourque.

Back at the barn, after Bourque dismounted and was taking off the bridle, Macho Again got away from his handlers and ran around the area in front of his barn for about two or three minutes before being caught. Macho Again suffered a cut above his right eye, but besides that seemed none the worse for wear.

"He probably got more out of this than a half-mile in 50 [seconds]," Stewart joked. "He was hard to catch. He was having fun. There were nine of us trying to catch him, and the pony caught him."

Stewart said Macho Again got loose as a 2-year-old up here last year, and even ran around the parking lot. Weather permitting, Stewart said he was hoping to breeze Macho Again on Saturday. He said Macho Again was doing well Friday afternoon.

"He seems fine," Stewart said. "He ate up good."

While Macho Again had an eventful morning, Belmont Stakes winner Da' Tara went through his final workout problem-free, drilling four furlongs in 47.88 seconds, the fastest of 52 breezes at the distance over the training track. Da' Tara went in company with Chris Got Even, breaking off together and then pulling away from that one late.

"That was good; very happy," trainer Nick Zito said.

Red Rocks skips Sword Dancer

Red Rocks was forced to miss Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational after developing filling in his left hind ankle Thursday afternoon, trainer Mark Hennig said Friday.

Hennig had to treat Red Rocks, necessitating that he scratch the horse. Hennig also had some concern about running over what undoubtedly will be a soft turf course.

"I don't want to aggravate it on soft going," Hennig said.

Hennig did not say where Red Rocks would run next. His initial plan after the Sword Dancer was to look at the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Sept. 27.

"We want to get this handled first," he said. "And there are plenty of opportunities coming up in the fall."

Divine Park sharp in Woodward work

Divine Park, who hasn't raced since winning the Metropolitan Handicap in May, worked a sharp five furlongs in 59.97 seconds Friday morning over Saratoga's main track in preparation for a meeting with Horse of the Year Curlin in the $500,000 Woodward on Aug. 30.

"We haven't run for a while; we needed a good little work," Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We'll come back next Friday, Saturday, or Sunday with a half-mile and be ready to go."

McLaughlin had been pointing Divine Park to the Whitney on July 26, but opted not to run when the horse had a few mornings when he was not warming up properly prior to his training. Last month, Divine Park underwent a bone scan at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Clinic that revealed no abnormalities.

"We were just being cautious because he's a Grade 1 winner," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin also worked his talented 3-year-old Lieutenant Ron, who went four furlongs in 48.34 seconds. Lieutenant Ron, who won both of his starts impressively but has not been out since April, will not run in next Saturday's Grade 1 King's Bishop.

"He worked great, but I don't think we're going to make it," McLaughlin said. "We'll find something else for him [at Belmont]."

Run Away and Hide to stretch out next

Run Away and Hide came out of his victory in Thursday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special in good shape and will be pointed to a race around two turns on a synthetic surface, trainer Ronny Werner said Friday.

Run Away and Hide won the Special by 1 1/4 lengths over Break Water Edison, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.67, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93. Run Away and Hide is now 3 for 3 in his career, with two stakes wins.

With the goal the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, Werner said Run Away and Hide will be pointed to either the Grade 2, $250,000 Norfolk at Santa Anita on Sept. 28, or the Grade 1, $500,000 Lane's End Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 4. Both races are contested around two turns on synthetic surfaces.

Werner said the best part of Thursday's victory was the way Run and Way Hide relaxed.

"It turned out exactly like we wanted," he said. "I was glad he didn't leave there on the lead and broke a little slow. That other horse fought him down the lane and he dug in."

Backseat Rhythm takes Lake Placid

Despite having to swing six-wide turning for home, Backseat Rhythm closed powerfully in the stretch under Javier Castellano to win Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths over Rosa Grace. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Raw Silk in third.

As a 2-year-old, Backseat Rhythm finished second in the Grade 1 Frizette and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, both on dirt. But her true calling is the turf, a surface on which she is 3 for 5.

Kept too close to the pace in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park last out, Backseat Rhythm raced in the back of the pack and was last entering the far turn. But Castellano swung her out turning for home and she kicked hard over the yielding ground. Backseat Rhythm, a daughter of El Corredor owned by Paul Pompa and trained by Pat Reynolds, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.69 and returned $14.40 to win.

"Losing as much ground as she did, and in the bat of an eye - I mean by the time they got to the eighth pole - she was third on the outside," Reynolds said. "Usually horses that do what she did disappear into never-never land, but I guess she's that good."

Backseat Rhythm will likely be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 11.

Songster works fast for return to racing

Songster, the multiple stakes-winning sprinter who had some fertility problems as a stallion, is nearing a return to the races. On Friday, he drilled four furlongs in 47.04 seconds, the fastest of 86 works at the distance. It was his third work at Saratoga and ninth breeze since May.

Songster has not run since taking the Gradeo2 Bold Ruler at Belmont in May 2007. As a 3-year-old, Songster won the Hirsch Jacobs on Preakness Day and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup on Belmont Day.

He is back in the barn of trainer Tom Albertrani, who said that Songster could run at the end of this meet or down at Belmont Park.

* Wait a While, seeking a repeat in the Ballston Spa Handicap when that race is run next Thursday, worked four furlongs in 48.01 seconds over Saratoga's main track on Friday.