09/14/2005 12:00AM

New faces look at depleted Gold Cup

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ELMONT, N.Y. - With the news that Bellamy Road is out for the year and Commentator is likely to turn back to shorter distances, the connections of the front-running handicap horses Alumni Hall and Ice Wynnd Fire are thinking about the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct 1.

Before learning about Bellamy Road, trainer Neil Howard had been targeting the $500,000 Meadowlands Cup for Alumni Hall, who earlier this year won the Grade 3 Ben Ali Handicap at Keeneland and who is coming off an allowance win at Saratoga last month.

"I would say we may revisit the Jockey Club Gold Cup situation," Howard said. "From a training standpoint, he's on a perfect schedule to the Gold Cup."

Howard said the Jockey Club Gold Cup would give Howard and owner Will Farish "a real good idea" of whether to go on to the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Breeders' Cup will be held here on Oct. 29.

On Tuesday, Alumni Hall worked five furlongs in 1:01.24 over Belmont's main track.

While trainer Bobby Frankel does not have Breeders' Cup aspirations with Ice Wynnd Fire, he is looking for an opportunity to win a stakes race with him. Ice Wynnd Fire is coming off two allowance wins at Saratoga. Frankel is considering both the Meadowlands Cup and Jockey Club Gold with Ice Wynnd Fire and may go wherever Alumni Hall doesn't.

"If he goes in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I might go to the Meadowlands," Frankel said. "I think he's a better horse than me, and I'm not getting any weight. I'm not thinking Breeders' Cup, I'm just thinking about winning a nice race with him. Two turns might be better for him anyway."

Artie Schiller to wait for Kelso

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens has altered course with top miler Artie Schiller, who will now be pointed to the $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Oct. 2 rather than run in Sunday's $1 million Atto Mile at Woodbine.

Jerkens said he didn't want to ship Artie Schiller to Canada, and also cited the presence of Leroidesanimaux in that race as a reason for skipping the Atto Mile.

"He's been difficult to ship this year for some reason," Jerkens said. "He's been more studdish this year than he ever was. I'm a little leery about it. Three-hundred fifty-thousand is nothing to sneeze at right in your own backyard at the same distance as the big one."

On Sunday, Artie Schiller worked five furlongs over Belmont Park's turf course in a solid 1:00.19.

Asmussen wants fall campaign for Bwana Charlie

Bwana Charlie, who has run just twice since finishing fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been working steadily for the last month in hopes of having a fall campaign.

Bwana Charlie hasn't run since finishing sixth in the Aristides Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 25. Before that he had to scratch from a stakes at Pimlico during Preakness Week because of quarantine restrictions placed on trainer Steve Asmussen's Churchill Downs barn.

Bwana Charlie shows six works since Aug. 17, including a five-furlong move in 1:01.47 over Belmont's main track on Sunday.

"There are not lot of options with him right now," Asmussen said. "He had a horribly unlucky year. He was ready to run in the Maryland race, and the day he was leaving was the day the quarantine started at Churchill. We got him back, then stupid little things started happening. He's working good again. Exactly what race he'll start in, I don't know."

Ruler's Court scores in comeback

Ruler's Court overcame a poor start to win a second-level allowance by a neck on Wednesday. It was his first win since he took the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 5, 2003.

Ruler's Court, owned by Godolphin Racing Inc., was making just his third start since the Norfolk in Wednesday's race. After stumbling at the start under Jerry Bailey, Ruler's Court rushed up to contest the pace and won a stretchlong duel with Mr. Umphrey.

Ruler's Court covered seven furlongs in 1:23.08 and returned $6.20 as the favorite.

Hill gears up for return from injury

Apprentice jockey Channing Hill is hoping to return to race riding by the first week of October, his agent, Drew Mollica, said Wednesday.

Hill has been sidelined since July 17, when he injured his back after a horse he was on flipped in the gate. At the time, he was the leading apprentice at the Belmont meet with 28 wins. Hill missed the entire Saratoga meet.

Mollica said Hill could begin getting on horses in the mornings by this weekend after he consults with doctors on Friday.

* Howard said that Shadow Cast, the upset winner of the Personal Ensign Handicap, is on schedule for the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont on Oct. 1. On Tuesday, Shadow Cast worked six furlongs in 1:14.98.