07/20/2009 12:00AM

Papa Clem back to work, next stop uncertain

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Jessica Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Presious Passion, winning the United Nations, needs a firm turf course.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Papa Clem got back to work Monday, breezing for the first time since finishing third in the July 11 Long Branch Stakes. He was clocked in 1:12.60 for six furlongs at Monmouth Park.

"I wanted a good work in him," trainer Gary Stute said from Del Mar. "It was just exactly what I wanted."

In the Long Branch, Papa Clem stumbled at the break and came back with minor nicks and cuts in his first start since finishing sixth in the Preakness.

After the Long Branch, Stute left Papa Clem at Monmouth, even though the colt's next start could be elsewhere.

Stute has two targets in mind: the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational here on Aug. 2, or the $500,000 Jim Dandy the day before at Saratoga.

The availability of regular rider Rafael Bejarano could tip the decision. Bejarano remained in California when the Long Branch was run. Elvis Trujillo pinch-hit on Papa Clem, the 6-5 favorite.

"I am hoping to get Bejarano for one of the spots," Stute said. "We'll probably make a decision in the next few days."

Stute felt the Long Branch, won by Atomic Rain, served a purpose, even if Papa Clem didn't bring home the victory.

"It was a rough trip for him," Stute said. "I can give him an excuse. I don't know if he would have beat the winner with a better trip. I didn't really have him cranked up 100 percent. I was really pointing to this next race."

Papa Clem won the Arkansas Derby in the spring.

Hartmann glued to the tube

Mary Hartmann, the trainer of United Nations winner Presious Passion, has been glued to her favorite cable channel.

"I love the Weather Channel," Hartmann said. "When you're outside all the time, you develop a real respect for the weather. Good or bad, you like to have an idea of what you're facing."

That channel will play a role in determining where Presious Passion races next following his front-running repeat victory in the U.N.

With a pacesetting style, the 6-year-old gelding needs a firm course to excel. Hartmann is considering a pair of Grade 1 options: the Arlington Million on Aug. 8 or the Sword Dancer at Saratoga the following Saturday.

"I am waiting on the weather," Hartmann said. "If it's raining out in Chicago, I am not going to go. We would wait the week and hope the Sword Dancer comes up dry."

Since the United Nations on July 4, Presious Passion has been galloping regularly. He rarely breezes, but the gap between starts has Hartmann thinking the gelding might need a work.

"He might breeze this weekend, if track conditions are favorable," Hartmann said. "Everything is good with him. I couldn't ask for him to be doing any better."

Get Serious to go for graded glory

Get Serious is another Monmouth runner hitting the top of his game. A 5-year-old gelding, he has already won a pair of one-mile grass stakes at the meet, the Elkwood and the Battlefield. Both times, Get Serious fell just short of the course record.

His only loss at the meet came on a switch back to dirt for the Skip Away Stakes, where he finished fifth.

Get Serious will try to get his first graded victory in the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes on the Haskell undercard.

"There is also a New York-bred race around the same time at Saratoga, but we think he would be much happier running here, where we don't have to ship," said Pat McBurney who shares the training with John Forbes.