06/09/2008 12:00AM

Pays to Dream retired with fracture

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Pays to Dream suffered a fractured sesamoid in his right front leg while finishing third in Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap and has been retired from racing, trainer David Donk said Monday.

Donk said that while the injury is career-ending, it's not life-threatening, and the 4-year-old New York-bred gelding will likely make a riding or an event horse someday.

"As a rule sesamoids don't heal enough to withstand racing," Donk said.

The injury came at a most inopportune time as Pays to Dream was developing into an upper-echelon turf horse. He won the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico by 7 1/2 lengths on Preakness Day before finishing third, beaten just a half-length by Dancing Forever in the Manhattan. He ended his career with a record of 5 wins from 15 starts and earnings of $377,741 for December Hill Farm, which owned and bred the son of High Yield and Changing Ways.

Donk said the injury was not diagnosed right away as Pays to Dream appeared to be bothered by heat exhaustion immediately after the race. Donk said Pays to Dream walked sound onto the equine ambulance and wasn't diagnosed with the injury until an hour later.

"Obviously, very disappointing, but as Woody said the sun will come up tomorrow," said Donk, referring to the Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens, for whom Donk worked as an assistant. "So much upside to him, a New York-bred gelding, you could run him anywhere. He was the soundest horse in the barn."

Meanwhile, Dancing Forever emerged from the Manhattan in good order, according to trainer Shug McGaughey. The 5-year-old son of Rahy returned to Saratoga and will likely skip the Man o' War here on July 12 for the Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 16.

"As hot as it was, I believe that was a hard race on a lot of those horses," McGaughey said. "So, while I'm not ruling out coming back in the Man o' War, I'll probably run him in the Sword Dancer."

Bobby Frankel, trainer of second-place finisher Out of Control, said he would likely look at races at 1 1/4 miles or shorter for his horse. Frankel did say that he is planning to ship Champs Elysees, sixth as the favorite in Saturday's Whittingham, from California to New York for either the Man o' War or United Nations at Monmouth Park on July 5.

Frankel said that Ventura, winner of the Just a Game, would be pointed to the Grade 2, $750,000 CashCall Mile at Hollywood on July 5.

Zaftig targets Mother Goose

Zaftig, sharp winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, will likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1 1/8 miles and a meeting with Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell on June 28, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.

Zaftig backed up her strong Nassau County win with an even more impressive victory over Indian Blessing in the Acorn. With only four horses in the field, Zaftig kept the front-running Indian Blessing - last year's 2-year-old filly champion - within close proximity through the early stages, before rallying past her in upper stretch.

Zaftig won by 4 1/2 lengths and covered the mile in 1:34.50, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 113, the highest figure earned by a 3-year-old of any gender this year.

"She looked smoother the other day than I've ever seen her," Jerkens said. "In her other races, she's switching leads and doing other stupid stuff."

Zaftig, a daughter of Gone West, is now 3 for 5 for owners Susan and John Moore.

Meanwhile, Acorn runner-up Indian Blessing will likely be kept at shorter distances than a mile. While the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga at seven furlongs on Aug. 2 is the major goal, there is a chance she could run in the Grade 1 Prioress at six furlongs at Belmont on July 5.

Lieutenant Ron seeks summer return

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin believes Lieutenant Ron is "one of the very best" 3-year-olds around and he hopes to get a chance to prove it during the second half of the year.

A winner of both of his starts - both sprints - Lieutenant Ron was forced to miss the Peter Pan Stakes last month due to a foot injury. On Monday, he was scheduled to begin walking under tack and McLaughlin hoped to begin training him within a week or so. McLaughlin said everything from an allowance race to the Jim Dandy on July 26 to the King's Bishop on Aug. 23 are possible spots for Lieutenant Ron.

"We'll have to see how he's doing," McLaughlin said.

Lieutenant Ron debuted last November, winning a six-furlong race by 8 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct. An injury kept him from running until April 6, when he won a seven-furlong allowance race by 3 1/2 lengths, also at Aqueduct.

In addition to winning those races easily, Lieutenant Ron has impressed McLaughlin with his morning training.

"Every time he's breezed, he's breezed too fast, easy," McLaughlin said. "We don't like to go in 47 every time. We just did get him slowed down the last couple of breezes. He's so naturally talented, he goes 47 like other horses go 49, and his two races have been impressive."

Though both of his wins have come in sprint races, McLaughlin said he would eventually like to stretch Lieutenant Ron out around two turns.

"That's what he wants, he's by Graeme Hall, he's a big, leggy guy; he will get further for sure," McLaughlin said.