08/04/2005 11:00PM

Offlee Wild works ahead of Saratoga Cup

Forest Music takes the Grade 2 Honorable Miss under John Velazquez, giving trainer Steve Asmussen his 3,000th career victory.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With Saint Liam all set for Saturday's Whitney Handicap, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. turned his attention Friday morning toward his other handicap star. Offlee Wild, winner of the Suburban Handicap in his last start, breezed six furlongs in 1:13.43 over Saratoga's main track.

Offlee Wild is being pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup here on Aug. 21.

"He breezed really good," Dutrow said outside his Saratoga barn. "I'm already looking at him and know that he came out of the work good. If there's no complications and he breezes good again, they're going to have to talk us out of running him there."

Dutrow likes the timing of the Saratoga Cup. It's 50 days from the Suburban and 41 days to the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, a race Dutrow definitely wants to run in.

"I want to run him in the Jockey Club because he loves that track, loves the distance, and then you've got almost 30 days for the Breeders' Cup," Dutrow said.

The Saratoga Cup is the tentative return spot for Roses in May, who has not run since winning the Dubai World Cup in March. Dutrow, who beat Roses in May with Saint Liam in the Donn Handicap in February, said he does not fear Roses in May.

"I would not duck him with either one of these two horses," Dutrow said. "I'm not afraid of him in any kind of way, never have been."

Roses in May fires bullet

Roses in May geared up for his return by working five furlongs in 59.97 seconds Friday morning over the main track. Jockey John Velazquez was aboard for the work, the fastest of 30 at the distance.

Roses in May was timed in fractions of 11.93 seconds, 23.55, 35.75, and 47.97, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.65.

Trainer Dale Romans believes the work helped move Roses in May closer to the Saratoga Cup, though he mentioned it is possible that he could wait for the Woodward at Belmont Park on Sept. 10.

"We have a lot of options," Romans said. "We'd like to run at Saratoga, but either one is going to be all right. He'll either go Saratoga Cup, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Breeders' Cup, or Woodward and Breeders' Cup. We'll see how the next work goes."

Roses in May is expected to conclude his career in the Japan Cup Dirt in November in Tokyo.

Sis City aimed at Alabama

Dutrow sees nothing physically wrong with Sis City, so he is concentrating on getting the 3-year-old filly's mind right. On Friday, he took Sis City to the starting gate for the first of several schooling sessions designed to help her get to the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 20.

Sis City won the Grade 1 Ashland and Grade 2 Davona Dale to begin her campaign. But she bombed as the 3-5 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks and was fourth as the second choice in the Delaware Oaks.

"At Churchill, when she loaded in the gate she was very fussy, same thing at Delaware," Dutrow said. "We're doing some gate work with her and it looks like she's settling down, and that's what we need. We need her mind to be right. I believe everything else is right.

"We're pointing towards the Alabama," the trainer added, "and if everything is clockwork with the filly, we'll run. If it's not, there's no pressure. The owners want to have a nice filly for next year and so do I, so I'm going to try and not make a bad move around here."

Dutrow said Sis City is simply jogging right now but should begin galloping soon.

Forest Music gives Asmussen 3,000th win

Forest Music's gate-to-wire victory in Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 at Saratoga was a significant one for the filly and her trainer, Steve Asmussen.

For Asmussen, it was the 3,000th victory of his career, making him the 18th trainer to accomplish the feat. For Forest Music, who was making her first start since being purchased privately by Jess Jackson for what sources said was $1 million, it was her first graded stakes victory in more than 14 months.

"It's been a while to get to this point, and the only thing about me having 3,000 wins is there are so many people that are responsible for it. It's a shame they only write one name down," said Asmussen, who last year set a single-year record for wins by a trainer with 555.

Only a short while after the Honorable Miss, in fact, Asmussen earned victory No. 3,001 when he won the ninth race at Ellis Park with Song Dancer.

Forest Music, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song, scored her only prior graded victory in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness in May 2004. She also finished third in the Grade 1 Test last year and this May was third in the Grade 2 Genuine Risk.

Jackson purchased Forest Music from Michael Gill two months ago, and the filly was transferred to Asmussen from Mark Shuman.

On Friday, Forest Music rocketed out of the gate under John Velazquez and set fractions of 21.80 seconds, 44.43, and 56.59 while opening up a six-length lead at the eighth pole. Forest Music ($9.80) covered the six furlongs in 1:10.06 and won by two lengths over Ebony Breeze. It was 4 1/2 lengths back to favored Bank Audit.

"She was so calm I was a little concerned about it - she was too quiet for me," said Velazquez, who won his fifth stakes of the meet. "When the doors opened, she was gone; it was like she was walking."

Rey de Cafe works toward Hall of Fame

Trainer Rusty Arnold was looking for an easy half-mile work on Friday to get Rey de Cafe to Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 Hall of Fame Stakes. But Rey de Cafe got hooked up with Good Reward, and the two ran together for four furlongs. Rey de Cafe was clocked in 48.26 seconds for a half-mile, the second-fastest time of 12 at the distance.

Good Reward, the Manhattan winner who is pointing to the Arlington Million, was timed in 1:01.30 for five furlongs.

"He did a little more than I wanted, but he seemed to bounce out of it great," Arnold said. "I don't seen any problem."

Rey de Cafe, who posted nose decisions in the Crown Royal American Turf and Hill Prince, is coming off a last-place finish in the Virginia Derby. Arnold said a rainstorm that turned the course yielding may have caused the subpar performance.

"He was never in the race; he never picked up the bridle," Arnold said. "He's come back and trained good and we were thinking of going to Chicago [for the Secretariat], but we decided he's right here, he's happy, and he got ready here."

Others pointing to the Hall of Fame are Crown Point, Holy Ground, Interpatation, Prince Rahy, Reel Legend, T.D. Vance, and Tadreeb. High Limit is possible.

Moon's Halo returns in allowance

Moon's Halo, an impressive debut winner at Belmont on June 19, makes his first start against winners Sunday in an entry-level allowance race at six furlongs. The race is designed to produce a starter or two for the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 27.

Moon's Halo, a son of Halo's Image, won his debut by 4 1/2 lengths, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in 57.22 seconds and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

"He didn't have to win first time out," trainer Rick Violette said, adding that Winning Minister "was touted as the second coming." He finished third in the maiden race behind Moon's Halo.

"He's one of those 2-year-olds who isn't flashy in the morning, but he's professional," Violette said of Moon's Halo. "He acts like an older horse, has a great mind, and those horses are dangerous."

An illness forced Moon's Halo to miss the Saratoga Special on July 27.

First Samurai, a son of Giant's Causeway, was visually impressive winning his maiden at Churchill Downs for Frank Brothers. He dueled on the lead, and drew off with just a few taps of jockey Pat Day's whip to win by 5 1/2.

Trippi Appeal, Sharp Humor, and Classic Pack round out the solid quintet.

Blue Sunday points to Albany

Now that Blue Sunday has showed he can rate, trainer Tom Albertrani will try to stretch him out around two turns in the $150,000 Albany Handicap on Aug. 24. The Albany, restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds, is run at 1 1/8 miles.

Blue Sunday romped to a 3 3/4-length victory in a second-level statebred allowance race on Thursday. His final time of 1:09.72 for six furlongs was the fastest time at that distance at the meet. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

"It was nice to see him rate yesterday," Albertrani said. "He looked very comfortable going down the backside. It'll be a little tough stretching him, but we don't have too many options at this point."

Blue Sunday had won two of his first three starts very impressively, but he was dueled into defeat in the Mike Lee Handicap.

"After his last race, with the speed he was showing, we were more reluctant to try him a mile and an eighth," Albertrani said. "After [Thursday] we feel a little more confident."

Albertrani said that Woodlander, the Lexington Handicap winner, would skip Monday's Hall of Fame to point to the Saranac on Sept. 4.