08/24/2003 11:00PM

Pletcher to take two shots at Hopeful

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher put three of his top 2-year-old colts through workouts on Monday morning and confirmed that two of the three will start in Saturday's Grade 1, $200,000 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

While Chapel Royal, the undefeated winner of the Sanford, was always being pointed to the Hopeful, he will be joined in the starting gate by Limehouse, the multiple stakes winner who suffered his first defeat when third in the Saratoga Special. Value Plus, an impressive maiden winner, will be held out until the Grade 1 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 14.

The Hopeful, run at seven furlongs, is shaping up to be a terrific race. Others expected to run include Birdstone, Dashboard Drummer, Desert Patrol, Hasslefree, and Silver Wagon. Oz is possible. Those eight have combined to win 15 of 23 starts, including six stakes.

Chapel Royal, who has won his three starts by a combined 20 1/4 lengths, worked an easy five furlongs over the main track in 1:01.26 by himself. Pletcher said he was shooting for a slower work after Chapel Royal had put in a couple of five-furlong moves in 59.40 seconds.

"We were shooting for 1:01 and he was right on, finished strong, galloped out well,'' Pletcher said. "I think he's a super-nice colt who's getting better and better physically. Mentally, he's an easy horse to train.''

Limehouse, whose victories include the Three Chimneys Juvenile and Bashford Manor, worked four furlongs in 49.26 seconds in company with Gold Deputy. Pletcher actually caught him in 50 seconds with a final quarter in 23.60 seconds. Pletcher said Limehouse deserved the opportunity to make amends for his third-place finish to Cuvee in the Saratoga Special, a race run over a sloppy track.

"It seemed like Cuvee took to it, got out of the gate really well, and we played catch-up from there on a track that was hard to catch up on,'' Pletcher said.

Meanwhile, Value Plus worked six furlongs in 1:14. Pletcher said he would try to get two more breezes into Value Plus before the Futurity.

Other Hopeful contenders who worked Monday were Silver Wagon, a 7 1/2-length maiden winner, who was credited with a four-furlong move in 47.06 seconds, the fastest of 30 at the distance. Hasslefree worked four furlongs in 50.23 seconds on the Oklahoma training track.

Heckle undergoes surgery

Heckle, winner of the Grade 3 Tremont Stakes, had a chip surgically removed from his left front ankle last Friday and will be sidelined the remainder of the year, Pletcher said.

Pletcher had detected something amiss with Heckle following a workout in company with Limehouse on Aug. 7. At the time, it was believed that Heckle was suffering from a tender shin. Heckle was vanned to the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky., where a scintigraphy performed on Aug. 18 revealed the chip. Dr. Larry Bramlage performed the surgery.

"He should be back ready to run by the beginning of Gulfstream,'' said Pletcher, who trains Heckle for Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable, which also owns Limehouse.

Heckle, a son of Hennessy, won two races from four starts.

Pretty Wild eyes Jerome

Overshadowed by the Travers and King's Bishop last Saturday was the performance of Pretty Wild, a 3-year-old who won a seven-furlong entry-level allowance race by 4 3/4 lengths. Pretty Wild ran seven furlongs in 1:21.50, .64 of a second faster than Valid Video won the Grade 1 King's Bishop. Pretty Wild earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

It was the first start for Pretty Wild since he finished fourth in last year's Grade 1 Champagne. Pretty Wild, who had previously finished second in the Hopeful and Futurity, came out of the Champagne with a "pretty good sized chip'' in his right knee that required surgery, according to trainer Stanley Hough.

"It was a pretty involved surgery and they recommended we give him a little more time,'' Hough said

Hough said he will consider running Pretty Wild back in the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 13.

"We're going to think about that," Hough said. "It's in three weeks, which is a little quicker than we'd like, but he did come back good. As fast as he ran, he didn't have to really abuse him. He did it pretty much on his own."

Evening Attire wins again

Evening Attire, last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, won his second allowance race of the meet Monday, rallying from last under Mark Guidry to win by 1 1/4 lengths over pacesetting Crafty Shaw.

Evening Attire covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.41 and returned $3.40 as the 3-5 favorite.

"He just did his thing,'' trainer Pat Kelly said. "It was nice to get a two-turn race before we go back below.''

Kelly said he would point Evening Attire to a repeat try at the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 27 at Belmont. Kelly said he also nominated Evening Attire to the Man o'War on Sept. 6 at Belmont, in the event it is rained off the turf. Kelly sounded lukewarm on a repeat try at the Breeders' Cup Classic, a race in which Evening Attire finished fourth last year.

"If we get back to the Breeders' Cup, that'll be great," he said. If we don't, that'll be great too.''

Travers records set

Despite the absence of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, Saratoga set Travers Day records for attendance and handle.

The crowd of 66,122 easily surpassed the previous Travers mark of 60,486 in 2001 when Point Given won. The ontrack handle on the 12-race card was $9,390,034, which surpassed the 2001 mark of $8,642,160 when there were 11 races.

The total handle of $39,489,786 broke the old handle mark of $34,529,273, also set in 2001. All-sources handle was a Saratoga record $40,907,482.

Exercise rider undergoes surgery

Amelia Bailey, an exercise rider for trainer John Terranova, was listed in guarded condition at Bassett Health Care Hospital in Cooperstown, N.Y, after undergoing emergency surgery for a fractured skull on Sunday.

Bailey reached to grab a horse on Sunday when the horse reared and struck her in the head above the right eye, according to Tonja Terranova, assistant trainer to her husband. Bailey, who never lost consciousness, was airlifted from Saratoga hospital to Bassett Health Care where she underwent several hours of surgery. She had multiple fractures of the skull and had blood on the brain, according to Terranova. Bailey also needed plastic surgery to repair damage over her right eye and forehead.

"The prognosis is very good," Tonja Terranova said. "They got all the bleeding stopped and the plastic surgeon put everything back together. She's very lucky to be alive.''

Bailey began working for the Terranovas in the spring, after spending the winter working for trainer Barclay Tagg at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Scrimshaw appears okay

Scrimshaw, who finished 10th in the King's Bishop, will be sent to the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic within the next week to be evaluated after pulling up lame in the race. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said initial X-rays did not reveal any tears.

"They took some X-rays and there was a shadow,'' Lukas said. "They looked at the knee on re-X-ray and evidently it's fine. I'm going to have [Dr. Larry] Bramlage look at him, but all the vets here said there's nothing to do. He showed a little pressure in there, but today it was normal and fine. He might have bruised the cartilage or something.''

Lukas said he is hopeful of getting Scrimshaw back to the races this fall at Keeneland or Churchill.

- Cuvee, the Saratoga Special winner, breezed four furlongs in 48.44 seconds Sunday over the Oklahoma training track. He is being pointed to the Grade 1, $200,000 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 14 as his final prep prior to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

- Lady Tak, the Test winner, on Monday worked seven furlongs in 1:27.73 in preparation for her next start, in the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 6.