07/21/2004 11:00PM

Millennium Dragon to skip Baruch


ELMONT, N.Y. - Millennium Dragon, the Poker Handicap runner-up, will not make the Grade 2, $150,000 Bernard Baruch on July 30 as planned, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

One of Millennium Dragon's hocks recently became inflamed, but it's not a serious setback, McLaughlin said. Instead of the Bernard Baruch, Millennium Dragon will be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Fourstardave on Aug. 28.

The McLaughlin-trained Roar Emotion, the runner-up in last Sunday's Delaware Handicap, will run next in the Grade 1, $400,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 27. McLaughlin has several options in mind for Mustanfar, who was moved up from second to first in Sunday's Lexington after Icy Atlantic was disqualified for interference. McLaughlin said two races at Saratoga, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on Aug. 9 or the Saranac on Sept. 6, are possibilities. McLaughlin is also considering the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington on Aug. 14.

"Or possibly, we'll run him back on the dirt," McLaughlin said.

Hough well set for Saratoga opening

Broadway Gold and Feline Story, fillies trained by Stanley Hough and scheduled to run in stakes at Saratoga during the first week of the meet, worked in company at Belmont Park on Thursday

Broadway Gold and Feline Story worked as a team throughout the five-furlong work and finished on even terms at the wire. They both were credited with a time of 1:00.55, the sixth-fastest of 23 works at the distance over the main track, which was listed as fast.

Broadway Gold, who won the Astoria at Belmont on June 27, will run in Wednesday's opening-day stakes, the Grade 2, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies.

Feline Story will run in next Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Test.

Hough, who trains both fillies for Joyce Robsham, said the primary reason he worked the fillies in company was for Broadway Gold's benefit. Hough wants to keep Broadway Gold focused on the task at hand, so she is not distracted when she runs for the first time at Saratoga in the Schuylerville.

"I put them together the last time I worked them," Hough said. "I wanted some company for Broadway Gold. They stayed together in the work, and that's what I wanted."

Hough also worked Grade 1 winner Request for Parole, who covered five furlongs in 1:02.03. Request for Parole, who won the United Nations at Monmouth Park in his last start, will run in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on Aug. 14.

Sherpa Guide: Long time between drinks

Sherpa Guide will try to snap his two-year losing streak in Sunday's $100,000 Evan Shipman. Since winning the restricted Evan Shipman on July 21, 2002, Sherpa Guide has gone winless in 10 starts

Tom Bush, Sherpa Guide's trainer, said the 6-year-old hasn't been finishing quite as strongly in his races as he used to. On the other hand, Bush is encouraged by a recent work. On July 17, Sherpa Guide, with Jose Santos in the saddle, covered five furlongs in 1:00. Santos rode Sherpa Guide to three consecutive wins in 2002, including the Evan Shipman, and will be back aboard Sunday.

"He hasn't overwhelmed me with his recent efforts," Bush said. "But he has trained as good as ever, and I don't see any reason he won't be competitive. He met a fairly tough field in his last start."

Sherpa Guide finished fourth in a fourth-level allowance race on July 4. Pretty Wild and Colita, who dead-heated for the win, are stakes-placed runners.

Gander, the 123-pound highweight in the 1 1/16-mile Evan Shipman, will be the horse to beat.

Others pointing to the Evan Shipman are Farmer Jake, Levendis, Manhattan Express, Rogue Agent, and Spite the Devil.

Open house on Sunday at Saratoga

Saratoga's annual open house, the traditional kickoff to the 36-day Saratoga meet that begins Wednesday, will be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Wait Trial races, a longtime event at the open house, will not be run this year because of a lack of interest on behalf of horsemen.

This year's open house features two 1 1/2-mile flat races for steeplechase horses. Some of the top jumpers in the country, including Praise the Prince and Tres Touche, will run in the non-betting events, which each drew fields of 12 runners. For some of the runners, these races will serve as a stepping-stone to the two jump stakes run at the meet, the A.P. Smithwick Memorial and New York Turf Writers Cup.

The open house is a family event, including carnival games and magic shows for children, as well as handicapping seminars for adults.

America America's last hurrah in CCA Oaks

The well-traveled America America will make the final start of her career in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park.

The Coaching Club will be the 27th start for America America, a 3-year-old daughter of Mister Baileys. While Belmont Park is included among the 19 racetracks at which America America has raced, this will be her first spin on the Belmont dirt. The Coaching Club will be America America's fourth race this year, all while in foal to the sire El Prado.

America America, owned and trained by Franck Mourier, is coming off a neck victory in the Lone Star Oaks on turf on July 4. Mourier said he is not going into the CCA Oaks expecting to win, but believes the 1 1/4 miles will benefit his filly.

"We always felt that she's got a lot of stamina, and I think it will be the ideal distance for her," Mourier said. "With this mare it doesn't really matter if the race is on the dirt or the turf."

Mourier said that America America was bred on April 10 and that her status has not affected her performance. America America finished last in the Black-Eyed Susan before running second in a minor stakes at Indiana Downs and winning the Lone Star Oaks.

"The only difference is she ran the last three races without medication of any kind because we don't want to take any risk for the baby," said Mourier, who raced America America on Lasix in 14 of her 17 starts last year.

America America is the only horse that Mourier has in training. He said he will spend the next several months attending sales "looking at horses who can run like she did."

Entering the CCA Oaks, America America has a record of 4-7-4 from 26 starts with earnings of $393,050. Mourier purchased her for $5,000.

Nevermore to aim high in Go for Wand

Trainer James Bond will try to pull an upset in Saturday's Coaching Club when he sends out Magical Illusion against Grade 1 winners Ashado and Stellar Jayne.

A win would be a minor surprise compared to the one he will try to pull off a week from Sunday, when he plans to send out Nevermore against the likes of Sightseek, Azeri, and Storm Flag Flying in the Grade 1 Go for Wand.

Nevermore, a daughter of Unbridled, is 3 for 3 since undergoing throat surgery last fall. She has not run since winning a second-level allowance race by three lengths on May 23.

"I thought her race last year at Saratoga off the layoff was a very good one," Bond said, referring to a second-place finish in a maiden race. "We did a throat operation last fall, and so far she's run accordingly. It might be the right time to take a chance with those fillies. She's been doing very well."

Free of Love wins Seeking the Gold

Free of Love broke an 0-for-18 losing streak on Thursday when he came back after being headed in midstretch by Personal Touch to win the $61,500 Seeking the Gold Stakes by three-quarters of a length. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Conservation in third.

It was the sixth victory from 40 career starts for Free of Love, and his first since winning the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap on May 8, 2002.

Free of Love ($16), owned by Ralph Evans and Anthony Aprilmante and trained by Rick Violette, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.08.

* Trainer Carlos Martin was suspended five days and fined $1,000 for a postrace positive for phenyblutazone in Smoke N Shadows, who finished first in the sixth race at Belmont May 31.

- additional reporting by David Grening