02/13/2002 1:00AM

Macho Uno, Red Bullet amp up Orseno's barn


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Now that Red Bullet has firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the handicap division this season following his huge effort in Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap, his trainer, Joe Orseno, can begin focusing his attention on his other handicap star, Macho Uno.

Macho Uno worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 under exercise rider Keith Ricks here Wednesday. The move was the best of 33 on the morning tab.

"He's training phenomenally," Orseno said of Macho Uno, the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award winner, who has not started since finishing fourth behind Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic. "I can't remember the last time I had * in the barn together and both were healthy. I'll keep the two of them separated with our first primary goal for Macho Uno the Pimlico Special. He won't take long to get ready, and I'd like to get two races into him if I can before he gets to Maryland."

Red Bullet ran second in the Donn despite trouble, but was disqualified and placed fourth.

Graeme Hall returns in the pink

Trainer Todd Pletcher was a bit disappointed in Graeme Hall's eighth-place finish in the Donn, but he couldn't be happier with the way the horse came out of the race.

"He came back great and is tearing the barn down," Pletcher said Wednesday. "He needed a race the first time back last season and my main concern going into the Donn was that he'd need one again this year - although I was hoping with the down time between starts a lot less it might not be the case. He was within striking distance then sort of ran evenly the last eighth of a mile, but all in all I thought it was a decent race."

Pletcher said Graeme Hall would likely make his next start at the Fair Grounds in the New Orleans Handicap on March 3.

North East Bound throws a shoe

Trainer Bill Perry had a few anxious moments after North East Bound threw his left front shoe while working four furlongs in 48.60 seconds around the dogs over the turf course on Wednesday. But after a brief hands-on inspection back at the barn he pronounced North East Bound fine and still on target for the Grade 3 Canadian Handicap on Feb. 23.

"He was due to be shod anyway," Perry said jokingly, once certain that all was well. "The rider thought he lost the shoe midway around the turn. Luckily it happened on the turf and not the dirt."

North East Bound has turned in two of the more heroic efforts of the meet when beaten a head by Pisces in the Grade 2 Appleton Handicap on Jan. 5 and beaten a neck by Del Mar Show in the Grade 3 Fort Lauderdale Handicap three weeks later.

"Despite having had two tough races he seemed to be holding his weight better than he ever did and his appetite is staying good," said Perry. "He's right on track for the Canadian, after which I'll probably give him a little break then point him towards the Maker's [Mark] Mile, a race he won last year at Keeneland."

Clement barn ready to awaken

It's been a quiet meet thus far for trainer Christophe Clement's powerful stable, although the French-born horseman said "there will be a lot going on" in the next two or three weeks. The action begins this weekend when he saddles major contenders in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday and Grade 3 The Very One Handicap the following afternoon.

In The Very One, Clement will likely send out Moon Queen, who is also nominated for the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup, as the 118-pound highweight, and her uncoupled stablemate Summer Solstice. He has three horses nominated for the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup but will let the weatherman decide who will start.

"If the course is firm I'll probably run Honor Glide," he said. "If not one of the other two [Revved up or Moon Queen] will start."

Clement is very excited about Moon Queen, who finished fifth for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget after disputing the pace making her U.S. debut in the Long Island Handicap on Nov. 10. Moon Queen is by Sadler's Wells and a half sister to the multiple-graded winner Innuendo, whom Clement also trained.

Stakes horses work

Eltawaasul worked four furlongs in 49.60 over the main course at Gulfstream on Wednesday in final preparation for the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup. Other prominent workers on the tab included Honorifico (three-eighths in 36.80); Dream Run (four furlongs in 48.60); Distilled (four furlongs in 50.20); and Belterra (five furlongs in 1:03).

The turf course was also busy, and along with North East Bound featured Queue going five-eighths in 1:03.80 for The Very One; Whata Brainstorm (four furlongs in 48.80); and Worldly Victor (four furlongs in 50 seconds).

At Payson Park, Hook and Ladder worked a half-mile in 49.60 on Wednesday, the best of 33 at the distance on a tab that also included Pleasant Breeze (four furlongs in 51.80).

Outofthebox still under wraps

Last year's Fountain of Youth Stakes has proven to be an omen for Outofthebox, whose career has been interrupted by nagging injuries several times since that trouble-filled race.

Outofthebox had a dreadful trip in the Fountain of Youth, in which he was the favorite. He broke well behind the field, then rallied to finish second, behind Songandaprayer. He was scheduled to run this winter at Gulfstream, but "wrenched an ankle," trainer Steve Flint said Wednesday, and likely will not run until Keeneland's meet begins in April.

Flint said he hopes to run Outofthebox in Keeneland's Ben Ali Handicap.

No race this weekend for Nokoma

Nokoma, a disappointing fourth in last month's Holy Bull Stakes, will not run in an allowance race on Saturday as planned because he "had some crud" in his throat after a workout on Tuesday, trainer Todd Pletcher said Wednesday.

Pletcher said Nokoma was examined with an endoscope after his workout.

"Assuming everything is fine, we'll work him back next week," Pletcher said. The trainer said he was hoping to run Nokoma in an entry-level allowance race on Feb. 23. "We've still got three weeks to the Florida Derby if he runs well in that race," Pletcher said.

Azeff's condition unchanged

Yvonne Azeff, who has been in a coma since a horse fell on her more than two weeks ago, is remaining at a local hospital for the time being instead of being moved to a rehabilitation facility in Palm Beach County.

Azeff, an assistant to trainer John Ward Jr., was part of the team that prepared Monarchos for victory in last year's Kentucky Derby. A hospital spokeswoman on Wednesday said that there had been no change in Azeff's condition in recent days.

Ward last week said Azeff's recovery was "going to be a long-term proposition."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman

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