06/08/2004 11:00PM

No quality sprints? Say goodbye to Valid Video

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Local fans probably won't get a chance to see star sprinter Valid Video at Monmouth Park.

That's a shame, because he is one of the most accomplished runners stabled at the track.

A 4-year-old gelding, Valid Video had an excellent 2003, winning 4 of 7 races, including the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Carry Back Stakes at Calder. He closed out the year in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint, where he finished last and suffered a stifle injury.

Unfortunately, Monmouth has no sprints for a horse of his caliber. The graded stakes schedule for older horses on the dirt is made up of a pair of Grade 3 routes: the Salvator Mile on July 25 and the Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles Aug. 21.

For that reason, trainer Dennis Manning will be heading home to his native New England on June 19 to run Valid Video in the $200,000 Moseley Breeders' Cup Handicap at Suffolk Downs on the Mass 'Cap Day undercard.

Valid Video is winless in two starts this season at Gulfstream Park and had developed a tendency to look behind himself when a rider used the whip or crossed the reins. That forced Manning into an equipment change. Valid Video will add blinkers for the Moseley.

"As they get older, they get smarter," said Manning.

With the blinkers, Manning says he hopes Valid Video will keep his focus solely on running. Valid Video wore the blinkers for a Tuesday workout at Monmouth, where he drilled six furlongs in 1:10.80 from the gate with regular rider Joe Bravo aboard.

"He went phenomenally well," said Manning.

Following the Moseley, Valid Video will head to Calder Race Course for the Summit of Speed on July 10.

Bracho still hospitalized

Jockey Richard Bracho, injured in a spill Saturday, remains in Monmouth Medical Center Wednesday awaiting additional tests and observation.

"He has a lot of pain in his lower back," said agent Dixie Shea. "It's going to be a day-to-day thing for him as to when he can leave the hospital, but he is feeling better."

Bills make progress in statehouse

Two important racing bills made progress in the New Jersey legislature Monday.

One bill would allow the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to lease Monmouth and The Meadowlands Racetrack. The other would extend breeders' awards to horses who win purse money out of state when there is no live racing in New Jersey.

The potential lease of the tracks has been a hot topic for some time. It cleared a Senate committee and awaits action by the full Senate. The Assembly version of the bill will be heard in committee June 14.

The state's Thoroughbred horsemen support a lease rather than sale of the two facilities.

"The horsemen believe a consortium comprised of the state's casinos, and the current NJSEA management team, or, as an alternative, a consortium of the state's casinos and a proven racing organization, would be the best scenario," said Dennis Drazin, the general counsel to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

A Senate committee also approved the expansion of the breeders' awards. Currently, breeders' awards are given only for horses competing in in-state races. The bill will soon move to the full Senate for consideration.

Zoffinger tops Friday allowance

The Friday Monmouth program features a trio of allowance races on the nine-race card.

Zoffinger, named for George Zoffinger, president of the sports and exposition authority, tops the $39,000 allowance with Joe Bravo aboard.

Zoffinger got off to a tardy start in his last race and made a solid run to get fourth.

Trainer John Forbes says he expects more in this spot.

"We expect Zoffinger will totally exonerate his lackluster debut at Monmouth Park," said Forbes. "There were a series of things that went wrong. The way he's acting, he should be a lot better."

The key will be a clean break.

"He's a tremendous horse," said Forbes. "He stands over 17 hands, and he is as long as he is tall. He barely fits into the starting gate. He hasn't figured out how to get out."

* Jockey Jose Velez, Jr. scratched off his three mounts Wednesday, when he was kicked in the ribs in the paddock before the second race. His protective safety vest took the brunt of the blow and prevented serious injury.