04/02/2002 12:00AM

More focused' Saarland breezes for Wood


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Saarland, preparing for the $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 13, was one of the first workers on Belmont Park's main track, which opened for the season on Tuesday.

, under his regular exercise rider, Adolph "Juice" Krajewski, worked six furlongs in 1:13.23, breezing, over a track that was labeled fast. He covered his first three furlongs in 37.25 seconds and five furlongs in 1:00.82. Saarland galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.50.

Saarland's trainer, Shug McGaughey, said the work was right on the money.

"It seldom works out that way, but it did today," said McGaughey.

McGaughey said this spring he has noticed a favorable change in Saarland, who finished second in the Gotham behind Mayakovsky on March 17.

"I feel like he's a different horse, a little more focused than the horse I saw this winter," McGaughey said. "It looks like everything is going right for him now - knock on wood."

Nominations closed over the weekend for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, New York's final prep for the Kentucky Derby. The early list of probables for the 1 1/8-mile race includes, Medaglia d'Oro, Blue Burner, Sunday Break, Buddha, and Nokoma.

Nokoma's race still a puzzler

Nokoma's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said he is stymied by his colt's poor performance in the Florida Derby last month at Gulfstream Park. , the third choice, was never in the hunt and finished seventh.

Pletcher said that Nokoma, who is owned by Michael Tabor, came out of the race fine and has trained well since.

"He worked fast the Monday before the [Florida Derby], but he came out of the work fine and ate up," Pletcher said. "I don't really know what happened. I expected him to run well and he ran poorly. We figured we would give him another chance. He had a good effort in his one race at Aqueduct in the Remsen."

Nokoma was beaten a neck by Saarland in the Grade 2 Remsen in November.

Pletcher said that Smooth Jazz, who finished 10th in the Florida Derby after pushing pacesetter Booklet through taxing early fractions, will be freshened and pointed to the $150,000 Riva Ridge on June 8, Belmont Stakes Day.

Warners, second in a sprint stakes at the Ocala Training Center last month in his 2002 debut, will run in the $150,000 Bay Shore for 3-year-olds on Wood Memorial Day, according to Pletcher. Warners, who was purchased at auction last year for $1,050,000 by Eugene Melnyk, showed promise in two starts at 2 before heading to the sidelines in the fall to have his shins pin-fired.

The Pletcher-trained Grade 1 winner Left Bank is back breezing after losing some time this winter because of a foot abscess. Pletcher said he's pointing Left Bank to the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap on May 27, with a start before then in the $100,000-added Bold Ruler on May 11. Left Bank, who worked three furlongs in 39.81 seconds at Belmont last Saturday, hasn't raced since winning the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November.

Summer Colony breezes

Summer Colony, a winner of six of her last seven races, worked a half-mile in 50.81 seconds, breezing, over Belmont's training track on Tuesday.

Summer Colony's trainer, Mark Hennig, said the move was a maintenance work and he has no immediate plans for the 4-year-old Summer Colony, who finished second in the Rampart Handicap on March 2. Before the Rampart, Summer Colony won the Grade 2 La Canada at Santa Anita.

"This was her first breeze since [the Rampart]," Hennig said. "This is a good time to freshen her; she really hadn't had a breather in a while. I'm going to keep her fresh for the races in the summer and fall and the Breeders' Cup."

Hennig said that Monthir, fifth in the Florida Derby, will run next in the seven-furlong Bay Shore.