07/23/2004 12:00AM

Offlee Wild out for year after surgery


ELMONT, N.Y. - Offlee Wild, the winner of the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap, will not race for the remainder of the year after recently undergoing surgery on a knee and ankle, according to his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr.

"I decided to clean him up," Dutrow said Friday. "He had surgery for a couple different things. He has a little suspensory, too. I'm looking at [the surgery and time off] as something necessary for his future."

Offlee Wild, a 4-year-old son of Wild Again, is recuperating at Kesmarc Equine Rehabilitation Center in Versailles, Ky., and is expected to return to the races in 2005. He hasn't run since winning the Mass Cap at Suffolk Downs by a head over Funny Cide on June 19.

Another graded stakes winner trained by Dutrow, Well Fancied, is also at Kesmarc. Well Fancied, who won the Evan Shipman Handicap a year ago at Belmont Park, is getting some time off for a knee injury. A New York-bred champion, Well Fancied hasn't run since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 10. The 6-year-old gelding came out of the Carter with a problem in a knee, but did not require surgery, according to Dutrow.

"He's in light exercise and he's supposed to by X-rayed again on the 28th of this month," Dutrow said. "I will wait for the okay from Dr. [Larry] Bramlage before he comes back to the barn."

The Dutrow-trained Saint Liam, who earlier this year finished second in the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds and third in the Oaklawn Handicap, recently resumed training at Aqueduct.

"He's been galloping five days now," Dutrow said. "He's had feet issues; there's not much wall to his front feet. You could say he has delicate feet. If everything goes like clockwork, he'll race this year."

Saint Liam hasn't run since the Oaklawn Handicap on April 3.

Birdstone will train up to Travers

Though there was an allowance race on opening day at Saratoga for which Birdstone is eligible, trainer Nick Zito has decided to skip it and train the Belmont Stakes winner up to the $1 million Travers on Aug. 28.

That means Birdstone will go into the Travers off a 12-week layoff. Zito had previously said that he did not want to run the slightly built Birdstone in either the Jim Dandy or the Haskell on Aug. 8 because the Travers was too soon after either race.

Zito is going on Birdstone's track record of running his best races when fresh. Birdstone won his maiden at Saratoga first time out. He won the Champagne off a five-week layoff, an allowance race off a 4 1/2-month freshening, and the Belmont off a five-week layoff.

"After going over everything, we felt the best possible way to get to the Travers is to do what he likes best," said Zito, who trains Birdstone for Marylou Whitney. "Let's face it, no race at Saratoga is going to be relatively easy."

Birdstone has worked just once since the Belmont, breezing four furlongs in 50.81 seconds on July 10. Zito said he would likely work Birdstone at Saratoga on Wednesday.

Chapel Royal has first workout since spring

On Friday, Chapel Royal, one of the leading 2-year-olds in the country last year, worked for the first time since finishing fourth in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March.

Chapel Royal covered three furlongs in 39.56 seconds over Belmont's main track.

"He came out of the Swale a little jammed up and needed some time," said Todd Pletcher, Chapel Royal's trainer. "He's a super-talented horse and came back very well. There's a chance he could be ready late in the Saratoga meet."

While he was away from the track, Chapel Royal was at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. Michael Tabor, who owns Chapel Royal in partnership with Derrick Smith, is a principal in Ashford Stud.

After scoring a 9 1/4-length win in his career debut at Belmont Park in May 2003, Chapel Royal won the Grade 3 Flash and Grade 2 Sanford. He also finished second in two Grade 1 races, the Hopeful and Champagne. Chapel Royal ended his 2-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park.

Perkins targets Saratoga juvenile stakes

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. and owner Ebby Novak's New Farm will have runners in each of Saratoga's opening-week stakes for juveniles when they send out Wild Chick in Wednesday's Schuylerville for fillies and Smokescreen in Thursday's Sanford for colts. Both races are Grade 2 events worth $150,000 and will be run at six furlongs.

John Velazquez, last year's leading rider at Saratoga, will ride both horses.

Wild Chick, a daughter of Forest Wildcat, won her debut on June 4 at Monmouth Park by 2 1/4 lengths. The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers from that race each came back to win their next starts.

In the June 4 race, Wild Chick pressed the pace established by Secret Missile before taking the lead approaching the quarter pole and drawing off with only a few taps of Dale Beckner's whip. She ran five furlongs in 58.58 seconds and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 62.

"Our filly, she's pretty solid compared to the ones we've had in the past," said Perkins, who won the 2000 Spinaway with Stormy Pick. "She worked so well off the race we just figured to give this a try."

Smokescreen, a son of 1996 Hopeful winner Smoke Glacken, overcame a sluggish start to win his debut by 1 1/2 lengths on June 19. Last early, Smokescreen made a strong middle move to gain contention, then rallied four wide on the turn before taking control and running a strong last sixteenth of a mile. He ran five furlongs in 58.82 seconds and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 78. The race produced two next-out winners.

"He had trained real well leading up to it, then he got off a little slow," Perkins said. "He was far back, but when he got into the race he cruised around there."

Perkins said he is concerned with how tough the field is shaping up for the Schuylerville, but he likes his chances in the Sanford. "The race might set up a little better because the other horses are speedy-type horses," he said.

Perkins shipped both horses from Monmouth to Saratoga on Thursday and planned to breeze both over the weekend.

Violette weighs options for Swingforthefences

Swingforthefences, winner of the Iowa Derby in his last start, breezed three furlongs in 36.38 seconds Wednesday over Saratoga's main track. It was the fastest of 11 works at the distance.

Trainer Rick Violette is monitoring the fields for the West Virginia Derby, Jim Dandy, and Haskell before making a decision in which race to run.

"If Rock Hard Ten doesn't come, I might think hard about the Haskell,'' Violette said.

* Jockey Jose Santos, who was thrown from his mount, Lauren's Charm, in the paddock before Friday's fourth race, took off the rest of his mounts on Friday. According to his agent, Mike Sellito, Santos was to ride on Saturday.

* Winning Expression, scheduled to run in Thursday's Sanford, worked five furlongs over Saratoga's main track in 1:02.02 on Friday.

- additional reporting by David Grening