08/25/2005 11:00PM

New strategy for Who's Cozy


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - In 1998, owner Richard Golden and trainer Linda Rice won both the Lake Placid and Lake George handicaps here with the 3-year-old filly Tenski. So, it's only fitting that when Saratoga runs the $65,000 Tenski Stakes on Sunday, Golden and Rice send out one of the top contenders in Who's Cozy.

Fourteen 3-year-old fillies were entered for the Tenski, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon Turf Course. Only 10 will be permitted to run.

Who's Cozy, a daughter of Cozzene, won two consecutive turf races on the lead at Belmont before finishing second in the Little Silver at Monmouth and third in the Lake George here. Having twice been beaten by Ready's Gal, Who's Cozy was held out of what would have been a third matchup with Ready's Gal in the Lake Placid.

Though there is not a lot of speed in Sunday's Tenski Stakes, Rice said she would like to see jockey Cornelio Velasquez take Who's Cozy off the pace.

"She'd been on the lead in her two starts at Belmont, so we wanted to get her off of it, and we did that at Monmouth in the Little Silver," Rice said. "She ended up being head and head for the lead in the Lake George. I felt afterwards that we got to put her in a position to get behind horses and see if we can get her off the pace. She got away from Cornelio in that race, but our intention is to take back in the Tenski."

Trainer Bill Mott sends out the uncoupled entry of Connie Belle and Flashy Three. Flashy Three, breaking from post 9, could be the speed of the race under Edgar Prado. Flashy Three makes her first start for Mott after having run for Rodney Jenkins.

Connie Belle, a daughter of Storm Cat, could the be horse to beat. Though she has twice finished behind Who's Cozy, Connie Belle certainly had excuses in the Lake George. She raced between horses down the backside and had no place to run in the stretch. Finally, Jerry Bailey was able to get outside and had her split horses again while finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner and a neck behind Who's Cozy.

"She had a little traffic," Mott said. "He had to eat her."

Exploivacious encountered trouble when fifth, beaten four lengths, in a second-level allowance race over this course July 31. Gary Stevens rides for Nick Zito.

Trainer Wally Dollase said Brag encountered tremendous trouble coming out of the gate when seventh, beaten five lengths, in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park on Aug. 5. Before that, she had finished in the top three in four North American turf races.

Silver Wagon possible for Forego

Silver Wagon, who has not started since finishing second behind Ghostzapper in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 30, may finally return to action here next weekend in the Grade 1 Forego Handicap.

Silver Wagon has been battling a foot problem that developed less than a week before his scheduled start in Calder's Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on July 11 and which continued following his arrival at Saratoga later that month.

"We seemed to have him straightened out when we first arrived here and then he became lame on his foot again," said trainer Ralph Ziadie. "I finally brought in a new blacksmith, Ian McKinlay, and he worked on Silver Wagon for two days, cut out a lot of fungus from his foot, and now he's going perfectly sound once again."

McKinlay is recognized as one of the top blacksmiths in the sport.

Ziadie worked Silver Wagon a slow and very easy half-mile last week and said he plans to have jockey Cornelio Velasquez set Silver Wagon down for a more serious drill here Monday. If all goes well with the work, Ziadie said he plans to enter Silver Wagon in the Forego.

Silver Wagon registered the most important win of his career at Saratoga two years ago when upsetting the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes.

Bending Strings points to Ruffian

Bending Strings, second in the Grade 1 Test here as a 3-year-old, was conspicuous by her absence in the entries for Sunday's seven-furlong Ballerina Handicap. Dollase, who has now taken over the training of Bending Strings, said she would be pointed to the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont Park on Sept. 11. The Ruffian is run at 1 1/16 miles.

Dollase said that with the Breeders' Cup being held at Belmont this year, owner John Gunther wants to see how Bending Strings handles the one-turn route races to see whether she is a candidate for the $2 million Distaff.

"That's the reason for doing it," Dollase said. "You'll know where you're at after that race."

Thus far, Bending Strings has done her best work at seven furlongs, winning a pair of graded stakes at that distance. Among the fillies Bending Strings will face in the Ruffian are Society Selection and Stellar Jayne.

Dollase said he will have a string at Belmont Park this fall, hoping to get a couple of horses to the Breeders' Cup. One of those horses is Meteor Storm, who won the 2004 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont but has struggled since. Dollase said that Meteor Storm came out of his fourth-place finish in the Sword Dancer with a throat infection.

"We cleared it up," Dollase said. "The talent is there; we just got to get lucky."

Zito fillies work five furlongs

Trainer Nick Zito sent his two top 3-year-old fillies, Hide and Chic and In the Gold, out for slow five-furlong workouts over the Oklahoma training track Thursday. Hide and Chic was timed in a leisurely 1:06.10, and In the Gold was timed in 1:05.50. Hide and Chic and In the Gold finished second and third behind runaway winner Leave Me Alone in the Grade 1 Test Stakes earlier in the meet.

Zito is pointing In the Gold for the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont Sept. 10. He said he has no definite plans for Hide and Chic's next race just yet.

"I love the way she's going right now," Zito said of Hide and Chic, adding that he would speak with Live Oak Plantation owner Charlotte Weber about stretching Hide and Chic out for her next start.

Zito also worked Sir Shackleton five furlongs in 1:05.26 at Oklahoma on Thursday. Sir Shackleton is among the nominees for the Forego, although Zito said it is unlikely he'll run in that spot.

"You always keep your options open, but I'm not leaning towards the race at the moment," he said.

Zito also has Florida Derby winner High Fly nominated to the Forego, although with the race now run under allowance rather than handicap conditions, High Fly would receive only a three-pound concession from his older rivals if he were to start.

For All We Know's next uncertain

Trainer John Ward said For All We Know came out of her sixth-place finish in the Alabama Stakes a bit dinged up and is uncertain when or where she will run next.

"She took a hard lick and hurt her hip leaving the gate," said Ward. "She's still a little stiff, so we'll just watch and wait before planning anything further for her at this point."

For All We Know showed brief speed while racing wide following her eventful start before tiring badly through the latter stages of the Alabama. For All We Know also finished fourth in the Coaching Club Oaks after beginning her career with three straight wins.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch