07/31/2004 12:00AM

Minor surgery will keep Tapit out till September

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Tapit, the Wood Memorial winner, will miss both the Haskell and Travers after entrapping his epiglottis during a workout Saturday at Delaware Park. Trainer Michael Dickinson was trying to arrange for Tapit to undergo laser surgery to correct the problem, said David Fiske, racing manager for owner Ron Winchell.

Dickinson sent Tapit from his Maryland farm to Delaware Park on Saturday with a couple of other horses in what was to be Tapit's last work before the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth next Sunday.

Tapit worked seven furlongs in 1:27.40 under jockey Jose Caraballo, but afterwards Caraballo told Dickinson he heard the colt make a noise. Tapit underwent an endoscopic examination, which revealed the entrapment.

Tapit has been dealing with a recurring lung infection that forced him to miss the Belmont Stakes. It also affected him when he ran poorly in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream in March. Tapit will now be pointed to the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 6.

"The idea is he has to walk for two weeks after the minor procedure,'' Fiske said. "The Pennsylvania Derby makes the most sense: it's pretty close to Michael's [Maryland farm], it's a lot of money, it's still against 3-year-olds.

"I've been doing this 24 or 25 years. It's not the first time it's happened but every time it happens it's a helpless feeling like somebody punched you in the stomach.''