06/02/2002 11:00PM

No shortcuts as Jerkens pursues Belmont

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens is nothing if not unconventional.

While virtually all of the other trainers have worked or will work their Belmont Stakes horses at distances from four to six furlongs, Jerkens on Monday sent out Puzzlement, the Peter Pan runner-up, for a nine-furlong move that was clocked in 1.55.02 over Belmont's main track.

"I never won one of these things, so I must stupid," the self-deprecating Jerkens said. "But I can't get it through my head what a short work does for a horse that has to go long."

Jerkens is 0 for 3 in the Belmont Stakes.

Clockers timed Puzzlement, with Jean-Luc Samyn riding, in fractions of 13.04 seconds, 26.60, 39.72, 52.63, 1:05.32, 1:17.44, and 1:42.37, meaning he got his last eighth in 12.65 seconds.

"I thought he worked good enough," Jerkens said. "He doesn't need to go faster than that. He only ran nine days ago."

Jerkens also equipped Puzzlement with blinkers for the workout, though he has never raced in them and won't race in them on Saturday. Jerkens said he used the blinkers in lieu of a workmate.

"If he's not working with somebody he's not going to pay attention," Jerkens said.

Samyn, who asked Puzzlement to pick it up in the stretch, was happy with the move.

"I think he did that extremely well," Samyn said. "He is improving quickly."

Jerkens said he may blow out Puzzlement three furlongs on Friday.

Alberts works Magic Weisner herself

Magic Weisner, the runner-up in the Preakness, worked five furlongs in 1:01 Monday at Laurel Park. It was the fastest of four moves at the distance.

Nancy Alberts, the breeder, owner, and trainer of the horse, was aboard for the move. Alberts had been getting on Magic Weisner regularly until she broke her shoulder in early April.

"Magic worked perfect," Alberts said. "The track was a little bit dry. I wasn't trying to do anything fast with him. It was just to keep him fit."

Alberts said she is fairly confident the Preakness did not take have an adverse affect on Magic Weisner.

"After two other days, he was just like himself," Alberts said. "The day after the race he really ate up, which is something I couldn't believe. I took that as a good sign."

Alberts still plans to ship Magic Weisner to New York on Friday.

Arroyo's 'recklessness' costs him mount

Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. had a weekend he would like to forget. And it cost him the opportunity to ride in his first Belmont Stakes.

Owner Ernie Paragallo, proprietor of Paraneck Stable, which owns Artax Too, has sacked Arroyo and has replaced him aboard Belmont Stakes longshot Artax Too with Jose Santos. Paragallo was upset with Arroyo's ride on Magnificent Val, who finished first in an allowance race at Belmont on Sunday but was disqualified and placed sixth for interference. After giving the horse a perfect ground-saving trip, Arroyo swung Magnificent Val off the rail and slammed into Give and Take.

On Saturday, Arroyo was disqualified from first aboard Slippery Gator in the $30,000 Old Ironside Stakes at Suffolk Downs. Paragallo does not own Slippery Gator. Arroyo will not receive a suspension from the incident at Suffolk.

"I didn't like what happened yesterday and what happened in Massachusetts," Paragallo said. "He's riding reckless."

Paragallo also replaced Arroyo with Santos on White Mercedes, a first-time starter slated to run in Friday's $100,000 Flash Stakes.

Mass Cap redux in Suburban

The top three finishers from Saturday's $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap - Macho Uno, Evening Attire, and Include - are all expected to run back in the $500,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 6.

Trainer Joe Orseno said Macho Uno, who overcame severe traffic trouble to win the Mass Cap by 1 3/4 lengths, vanned back to New York Sunday morning and came out of the race in good order.

"Just putting the blinkers on him has made so much difference," Orseno said. "The way he used to run, he'd tend to lose focus in the stretch. He lost no focus Saturday. If he did there was no way he gets home. He's so determined, to do it the right way and got about his business."

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said he was surprised that Evening Attire was able to get second, considering the fact he wasn't handling the track very well. Trainer Pat Kelly said he lost track of his horse in upper stretch. "The last time I saw him, he had two beat," Kelly said.

Kelly said the timing of the Suburban is good for Evening Attire, who runs well on a once-a-month basis.

Jockey Jerry Bailey told trainer Bud Delp that Include pulled himself up once he made the lead in the stretch.

"I hope he's right," Delp said. "If he is right, we'll just change tactics. The track was very peculiar, and that's not stretching the imagination. If I get him back in good shape and he looks like he is well to fight another day and dance another dance, hopefully the dance will be the Suburban."

Lido Palace, who ran second in the Suburban last year, is expected to make a repeat appearance in that race.

True Direction primed for Riva Ridge

True Direction, winner of three straight, including the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes at Pimlico, drilled five furlongs in 59.21 seconds Saturday in preparation for this Saturday's $150,000 Riva Ridge Stakes. The move, under jockey Javier Castellano, was the fastest by 2.65 seconds of the seven at the distance.

"It was a little bit faster than the way I wanted, but he did it so easily," said trainer Carlos Morales, whose horse was timed galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.60 and seven furlongs in 1:26.20. "Javier didn't think he went so fast."

A solid field is shaping up for the Riva Ridge, run at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds. Others pointing to the race are American Style, Burnt Ember, Day Trader, Draw Play, Gygistar, Quantis, Warners, and Yankee Gentleman. Menacing Dennis, Running Tide, and World Trade are possible.

Flash starters get in works

Presence, working for Friday's $100,000-added Flash, covered a half-mile in 46.74 seconds on Monday at Belmont. Also working Monday for the five-furlong Flash, for 2-year-old colts and geldings, was White Mercedes, who will be making his career debut in the Grade 3 Flash. He worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.

The other Flash probables are Mason City, Windsor Lodge, Renegade Warrior, Whywhywhy, Memo, and Lets All Smoke.

Paolini unlikely for Manhattan

Paolini has been assigned 121 pounds as the highweight for Saturday's $400,000 Manhattan Handicap, but is not expected to run. With Anticipation, assigned 120 pounds, is the probable starting highweight in the 1 1/4-mile race for male turf runners.

Others pointing to the Grade 1 Manhattan, which is shaping up as a terrific race, are Hap (119) and last year's winner, Forbidden Apple (118). Probable are Beat Hollow (118), Strut the Stage (117), Blazing Fury (115), Slew the Red (115), and Krombacher (114).

Beat Hollow, with jockey Richard Migliore in the saddle, worked Monday over Belmont's main track in 1:02.93 for five furlongs.

- With Left Bank and Snow Ridge, the 123-pound co-highweights, taking a pass on Saturday's $250,000 True North Breeders' Cup, the starting topweight will be California shipper Explicit at 119 pounds. Other probables are Yonaguska (118), Entepreneur (115), Wrangler (115), Late Carson (114), Smile My Lord (113), and Trailthefox (112). Peeping Tom (114) and Summer Note (114) are possible.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson