11/18/2003 12:00AM

No Cigar for A Huevo

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Mark Hopkins stood in the Laurel Park winner's circle Saturday after A Huevo's victory in the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, enjoying the present and contemplating the future. But he knew there was a chance that this 7-year-old gelding's past could come back to haunt him.

"Frankly, if he never runs another race, if he's back in the barn and has a problem, he's done everything we could possibly have asked," Hopkins said Saturday. "This is like a dream."

Hopkins was hoping the dream would continue, in the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30. Instead, A Huevo came up with another problem, which will sideline him indefinitely.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Joan Wakefield, the assistant to trainer Michael Dickinson, informed Hopkins that A Huevo has a tendon problem.

"They won't know for another 10 days how severe it is," Hopkins said. "Joan is extremely disappointed. I'm not that disappointed because, like I said on Saturday, if he never makes another step it doesn't matter to me. I just wanted the opportunity to show the Thoroughbred world how good a horse he could be, and I think he did that."

On Saturday, A Huevo won the Grade 1 De Francis by 1 3/4 lengths over Shake You Down, one of the country's top sprinters. A Huevo was making only his third start in four years, and he rallied from last to cover six furlongs in 1:08.90.

Hopkins had purchased A Huevo in 1999 after he won his first two starts for Vincent Moscarelli. A Huevo won his first start for Hopkins and Dickinson, then took the West Virginia Breeders Classic in track-record time. But he was disqualified from first because clenbuterol was found in his post-race urine. He also came out of that race with chips in all four legs.

Suspensory and tendon problems plagued him since, and A Huevo was away from the races from October 1999 until this August.

Hopkins said it was too early to tell if A Huevo would make it back to the races, but he said he expects Dickinson and Wakefield "to press on and give him another chance."

Had A Huevo run in the Cigar Mile, it would have set up an interesting showdown with Congaree, the race's defending champ. Others expected to run in the Cigar include Midas Eyes, Bowman's Band, Voodoo, Well Fancied, and Presidentialaffair.

On Tuesday, Bowman's Band worked five furlongs in 1:00.45 over Belmont Park's main track.

Ramon Dominguez, who was A Huevo's regular rider, is expected to ride Bowman's Band in the Cigar. Dominguez rode Bowman's Band to victory in the Meadowlands Cup last month.

On Tuesday, Bowman's Band worked five furlongs in 1:00.45 over Belmont Park's main track.

Red Smith at Mother Nature's mercy

The Grade 2, $150,000 Red Smith Handicap is scheduled to be the last turf stakes of the year run in New York. However, a mid-week storm was expected to bring up to three inches of rain to the area, meaning the Red Smith could well be moved to the dirt for the second consecutive year.

Balto Star, the winner of the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap, was assigned high weight of 120 pounds for the turf. But trainer Todd Pletcher is unlikely to run him on soft ground. If Balto Star does not run, the starting highweights, at 118 pounds, would be Macaw, second in the Grade 1 Canadian International last out, and Revved Up, winner of the Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware earlier this year.

Others pointing to the race include 2000 Red Smith winner Cetewayo (116), Irish Colonial (114), Thompson Rouge (114), Deputy Strike (113), Dawn of the Condor (112), Final Prophecy (112), and Quiet Ruler (111). Just Listen (114) is possible.

Several horses are likely to be entered as main-track-only runners, including Evening Attire, who won last year's Red Smith, Justification, Private Lap, Patriot's Song, and Peekskill.

Bailey nearing two records

Jerry Bailey remains one stakes win short of Mike Smith's single-year record of 68 set in 1994. Bailey also is closing in on the overall single-season earnings record for a jockey.

Bailey's mounts this year have earned a North American record $22,829,570. That figure is only $42,244 shy of Bailey's overall record of $22,871,814 set last year. The latter figure includes money won in selected international races, such as the Dubai World Cup. This year, Bailey has not earned any money internationally.

According to Bailey's agent, Ron Anderson, Bailey will ride only a few more times this year. Bailey is next scheduled to ride on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs, where he would ride Sightseek in the $300,000 Falls City Handicap. The following day, Bailey will again ride at Churchill, piloting Medaglia d'Oro in the $500,000 Clark Handicap.

Bailey will be at Aqueduct Nov. 29 to ride Congaree in the $350,000 Cigar Mile, Ashado in the $200,000 Demoiselle, and Read the Footnotes in the $200,000 Remsen.

On Nov. 30, Bailey will be in California to ride Senor Swinger in the Hollywood Derby as well as Etoile Mon Tante in the Matriarch.

Friends Lake will skip Remsen

Friends Lake, the stakes-winning New York-bred juvenile, will not run in the Remsen Stakes and instead will be freshened for his 3-year-old season, trainer John Kimmel said Tuesday.

Friends Lake, a son of A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1-winning mare Antespend, has won two of three starts, including the Sleepy Hollow Stakes on Oct. 18.

"I think he's done enough," Kimmel said. "If you're going to give them a break, I think now is a better time than December and January. I'm looking at hopefully a race or two before the Florida Derby."

Friends Lake, who is turned out at Payson Park, could make his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 17.

Kimmel is considering Big Booster for the Remsen. Big Booster, a son of Accelerator, won his maiden going one mile at Belmont on Sept. 24, then finished fourth in the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 4.

"It was only his second lifetime start," Kimmel said. "He was a little green. He can do better than that. I think he's going to really enjoy running two turns and a mile and an eighth."

Young quits Cobra Farm

Trainer Steve Young last week ended his four-year association with Cobra Farm, sending eight horses back to owner Gary Bisantz's Kentucky farm. Young, who is now down to 12 horses, would not elaborate on his reasons for sending the horses home.

"I had 20 horses, he has eight of them, I quit," Young said. "That says enough."

Among the horses Young had for Cobra Farm were Follow Betsy, Fresh Tracks, and Credible Story. Young said he hopes to rebuild his stable in order to have horses in both New York and Florida this winter.