06/15/2001 11:00PM

Next stop Primal, then American Hero may hit the road


MIAMI - Trainer Angel Medina had planned to be in Kentucky with American Halo this past weekend, taking on the likes of Captain Steve and Unshaded in Saturday's Grade 2 Stephen Foster Handicap. But those plans had to be scrapped when Medina was unable to make the proper shipping arrangements for his handicap star.

"The timing just wasn't right to get him out there last week," Medina said. "So instead I'll keep him home and point for the Primal Stakes here June 30."

Challenging Captain Steve, the Dubai World Cup winner, might seem a bit ambitious at this juncture of the season for American Halo, who is coming off a second-place finish to Hal's Hope in the Memorial Day Handicap here May 28. But Medina says his horse couldn't be doing better and expects him to continue to improve as the season progresses.

American Hero became an overnight star after upsetting Sir Bear at 76-1 to win the Fred W. Hooper Handicap here Dec. 30. He returned to register an almost equally unlikely victory over Vision and Verse and Pleasant Breeze in Gulfstream Park's Skip Away Handicap two weeks later.

Owner Jose Paparoni decided to stop on American Hero following his victory in the Skip Away and to bring the horse back to Venezuela for the breeding season. But a foot ailment put those plans on hold and allowed Medina to return the horse to training during the spring.

"He needed his first start back," Medina said of American Hero's seventh-place finish in the Excelsior Handicap, "and he ran very well in the Memorial Day. He was making a good run at Hal's Hope into the far turn when he was forced to check, or he might have won."

Medina said if American Halo performs to expectations in the Primal he will be looking out of town for future engagements, with Saratoga a likely stopping point this summer.

o Jockey Remi Gunn is far from a household name, but she did draw some attention by guiding Ecru to victory in Thursday's finale and came back to win Friday's fourth race with 19-1 Sisters Dream. Gunn was not only the rider, but also the breeder of Ecru.

o It was a big day for apprentice riders on Saturday, with seven-pound bugs Omar Camejo and Juan DeJesus winning three of the first eight races on the card. Camejo won the second and sixth events aboard They Call Me Gus and Southern Royalty, while DeJesus captured the eighth with Fortunate Player. Apprentice Abel Castellano, who entered the day tied for the lead atop the jockey standings with Cornelio Velasquez, was presented with jockey of the month honors following the third race.

o Tuesday's overnight looked more like a Saturday program, with seven of the 10 races to be decided under allowance conditions. Over $191,000 in purses will be offered through the course of the day.