07/01/2003 11:00PM

Plans change for Flying Notes


AUBURN, Wash. - The much-anticipated return of Flying Notes will have to wait.

Trainer Bud Klokstad reported that Flying Notes, who ran the fastest 1 1/8 miles in the nation last year when he won the Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby by more than 11 lengths in 1:45.40, took sick last weekend and will miss his scheduled return in Friday's $40,000 Independence Day Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

"He was colicky on Saturday night," Klokstad said. "He is fine now, but I don't want to take any chances with him. I wasn't too crazy about starting him out at 1 1/16 miles anyway, and I really don't want to start him out at 1 1/8 miles [in the Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup July 27]. What I'll probably do is point him for the Governor's Handicap and go into the Longacres Mile off that race. The Mile is his main goal."

The Governor's Handicap will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 3, and the Grade 3 Longacres Mile will be run Aug. 24.

Flying Notes won 5 of 7 starts here last season en route to being named horse of the meet, but he has had no luck since winning the Emerald Derby Sept. 2. Klokstad intended to test Flying Notes against graded stakes company in California last fall, but Flying Notes never trained to the trainer's satisfaction after arriving at Bay Meadows, and was turned out.

"I brought him back this spring and he galloped for 70 days before I ever worked him, because I wanted to make sure I had him right," Klokstad said. "He was working well, but he missed the sprint stakes because of the late start and I wasn't really satisfied that he was ready to route. Now I have another month to get him ready for the Governor's, so hopefully he'll be at his best for that one."

Skip to the Stone a new face here

Klokstad will still be represented in the Independence Day. The trainer will saddle Skip to the Stone, a 5-year-old son of Skip Trial who was sent here last month by Bob Baffert, who trained him in California for Greystone Stable. Skip to the Stone has not raced since finishing third in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate March 29.

"I can't really tell you much about him, except to say that he has trained pretty well since he got here," Klokstad said. "He worked five furlongs in 59.40 a couple of weeks ago and I was pleased with that."

Penney entry favored

The defection of Flying Notes guarantees that the Jim Penney-trained entry of divisional leader Turban and Salt Grinder will be favored Friday. Penney will also saddle last year's Longacres Mile winner, Sabertooth, who will not be coupled with the other two because the trainer does not share in his ownership.

"All three are doing very well, so I think they all deserve a shot," Penney said. "I don't think they'll get in each other's way. Sabertooth and Salt Grinder both have excellent speed, but Salt Grinder has shown us that he can come from just off the pace."

Penney feels Turban is versatile and can come from farther behind the pace. He added, "I really don't think we've seen his best race yet."

The Penney trainees figure to get their stiffest opposition from Moonlight Meeting, who won last year's Independence Day and Mt. Rainier handicaps and finished second to Sabertooth in the Mile. Moonlight Meeting made his 8-year-old debut in the Budweiser Emerald and finished fast for third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Turban and a neck by runner-up Alfurune.

"Moonlight Meeting runs well fresh, but it won't hurt that he has a race in him this time," trainer Sharon Ross said. "What will really help him is the extra sixteenth of a mile."