05/30/2001 11:00PM

Orseno rethinks sending Perfect Sting with males

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Joe Orseno said that for him to run defending female turf champion Perfect Sting against the boys in next Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, circumstances would have to be ideal.

The recent spate of wet weather in New York the last few weeks have provided less-than-ideal conditions under which to train horses, and that's why Orseno is now leaning toward running Perfect Sting in the Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap, also on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

"Right now I'm leaning toward running her against fillies,'' said Orseno, who said he would wait on Sunday's release of the weights for both races before finalizing his plans. "The timing, with the weather being so bad, it's been hard to train her. To go a mile and a quarter against the boys she's got to be peaking, and we lost that little bit of time.''

Perfect Sting, who won the Just a Game last year, breezed six furlongs in 1:17.47 last Saturday over a soft Belmont turf course. The turf was open for training again on Thursday, but Orseno thought the course was too soft and instructed exercise rider Keith Ricks to just gallop her on the training track.

Orseno said he does have Chris McCarron lined up to ride Perfect Sting should he elect to run her in the Manhattan. If Orseno chooses the Just a Game, regular rider Jerry Bailey will have the call.

Orseno said if Perfect Sting skips the Manhattan, she might try the boys later on in the year.

Zito thinking Brooklyn with 'Albert'

Trainer Nick Zito said he is giving "serious consideration'' to running Albert the Great in the $250,000, Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap on June 10, the day after the Belmont Stakes.

Zito said Albert the Great came out of Monday's 59-second workout in good order and will review the weights - which are due on Tuesday - before making a final decision. Zito is looking to use the Brooklyn as a stepping-stone to the $500,000, Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 4.

Zito said he favors the Brooklyn over the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 16 because it would be an easier spot. Among the horses pointing to the Stephen Foster are Captain Steve and Unshaded, both of whom have defeated Albert the Great in Grade 1 events.

"The Stephen Foster is inviting, but maybe it's better to take on those horses later,'' said Zito, who trains Albert the Great for Kentuckian Tracy Farmer. "I had a tough beat with Unshaded in the Travers, I had a tough beat with Captain Steve in the Donn. Albert is one of the best horses in America. One thing about it is he does love Belmont Park.''

Albert the Great is 4 for 5 at Belmont Park, including a six-length victory in last October's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. His final time of 1:59.24 is the fastest 1 1/4-mile time recorded by a 3-year-old in New York.

Gander, the horse who finished second behind Albert the Great in the Gold Cup, worked six furlongs in 1:13.02 over Belmont's main track Thursday in preparation for the Brooklyn.

Trainer John Terranova said he was pleased with Gander's move, but wasn't excited about possibly facing Albert the Great again.

"He's a real nice horse, we're going to have to run a big one to run with him if he shows up,'' Terranova said. "Gander's doing great. I'm real happy with him. Whether we can beat him I don't know.''

State Shinto, the fourth-place finisher from the Dubai World Cup, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.70 Thursday in preparation for the Brooklyn. Others pointed to the Brooklyn include Graeme Hall, Justification, Perfect Cat, Pleasant Breeze, Top Official, and possibly Country Be Gold, Milwaukee Brew, and Pine Dance.

Busy morning at Belmont

On an unseasonably cool morning and with the track fast for only the second time in almost two weeks, a total of 216 horses had published workouts at Belmont Thursday morning.

Express Tour, the eighth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, drilled five furlongs in 59.02 seconds over the main track. John Velazquez was aboard for the move, which was the fastest of 26 moves at the distance. Velazquez is expected to ride Express Tour in the $150,000, Grade 2 Riva Ridge Stakes on Belmont Day.

NYRA clockers caught Express Tour in fractions of 22.60 and 34.80 seconds and had him galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.

Laurent Barbarin, who is overseeing Godolphin Racing's New York string, said it was Express Tour's most serious move since arriving here in April.

Among the horses Express Tour will face in the Riva Ridge is City Zip, who breezed six furlongs in 1:13.02 over the training track.

Dream Supreme, winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff in her last outing, worked a half-mile in 47.12 seconds over the main track, the second-fastest of 85 moves at the distance. Trainer Bill Mott said Dream Supreme would run next in the $100,000 Vagrancy Handicap on June 16.