08/03/2001 12:00AM

Proud Man to miss Hall of Fame Stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Proud Man, who would have been one of the favorites in Monday's National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, spiked a fever last week that will force him to skip the race. His connections are hopeful that Proud Man could make the Saranac here on Sept 2.

According to Jimmy Iselin, racing manager for Proud Man's owner, Robert Kaufman, Proud Man had a fever of 102.2 last week. He was treated with antibiotics to control the fever, but it took until Friday for the horse to show signs of recovery. He has been training at Belmont Park since being forced to move with the rest of the stable to three different barns at Saratoga.

"He's the best 3-year-old turf horse in the country," Iselin said. "I'm not happy he had to move three times."

Proud Man has won four Grade 3 stakes this year, including the Hill Prince at Belmont on June 16. In that race, he suffered a cut to his right hind pastern, which kept him out of the Lexington Stakes.

Iselin said his objective is to get Proud Man to the Breeders' Cup at the end of October.

With Proud Man and Virginia Derby winner Potter out of the race, the Hall of Fame Stakes is coming up light in numbers. Baptize, winner of the Grade 2 Arlington Classic, is the 122-pound highweight and likely favorite. Others expected to run are Strategic Partner (120), First Spear (117), Tempest (116), Judge Spade (115), Royal Ambition (115), and Dayton Flyer (113). Possible starters are Package Storm (117) and Perfect Stranger (115).

Shadow Caster: Horse for course?

Trainer John Terranova is relying on the horse-for-course theory to help Shadow Caster pull off an upset in Sunday's $200,000 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

Last year, Shadow Caster won two races here, including the Grade 2 Forego Handicap at odds of 50-1. Overall, Shadow Caster is 2-1-2 from six starts at Saratoga.

"There are definitely horses that like places better than others," Terranova said. "He's doing fantastic and we'll take our best shot with him. If this is his place where he really steps it up, he's in great shape to do it."

Shadow Caster is 0 for 7 since winning the Forego, but his two most recent races were improved efforts. Two starts back he finished second in a six-furlong allowance race and last out he ran third going seven furlongs.

Five of Shadow Caster's eight wins have come at six furlongs. Terranova will put blinkers back on Shadow Caster for the Forego.

Among the horses he will face are graded winners Bonapaw, Men's Exclusive, Five Star Day, and Delaware Township.

Terranova said it is likely that Heavyweight Champ, third in the opening-day Sanford Stakes for juvenile colts, will return in the $150,000 Saratoga Special Aug. 15.

Bridgmohan back on horses

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan breezed a horse for trainer John Terranova Friday, his first time on a horse since he was head-butted by a mount on Monday.

"Not bad at all," Bridgmohan said when asked how he felt after breezing Brocco Bob four furlongs in 47.72 seconds.

Bridgmohan lost a tooth and cracked a few of them in Monday's incident. He received eight stitches in his lower lip and 100 stitches in his upper gum. On Thursday, Bridgmohan visited a Manhattan dentist, hoping a prosthetic mask could be devised to protect his face. But one could not be made.

"I've just got to give it time to heal and let the gums get harder," Bridgmohan said.

Originally, Bridgmohan was scheduled to be out until Wednesday. However, he hopes to ride Monday.

Strike It Smart back in training

Strike It Smart, who earlier this year was considered a Triple Crown contender, has resumed training and should make it back to the races by late summer or fall, trainer Al Stall said.

Strike It Smart, a 3-year-old son of Smart Strike, has not been out since a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. He is scheduled for his first breeze since that race on Tuesday.

Stall said he stopped on Strike It Smart after the Arkansas Derby because of a chronic respiratory infection. He spent 75 days at Darby Dan Farm before returning to Stall's Churchill barn a month ago.

"He grew tremendously in that short period of time," Stall said.

Stall said he believes Strike It Smart could make a very good


Under the Rug eyes Personal Ensign

Under the Rug, who most recently finished second in the Delaware Handicap, could make her next start in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap here on Aug. 24. She worked five furlongs in 1:00.34 on Thursday morning, the best time of the day on the Oklahoma training track.

"I want to see who goes in it," trainer Jim Murphy said of the Personal Ensign. "We know she likes Delaware, and there's a couple of races there for her this fall. She worked very well yesterday."

Under the Rug has won four times in six starts at Delaware, and she is 12 for 23 lifetime. In the Delaware Handicap, she finished 3 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Irving's Baby.

o Thunder Blitz, preparing for the Aug. 11 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.52 at Saratoga on Friday morning for trainer Joe Orseno.

o Spain, who won the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year, worked five furlongs on the Oklahoma training track Friday morning in 1:01.70 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who said Spain should return in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap on Aug. 26.

o Sharp Performance, winner of the Lexington Stakes last time out, breezed four furlongs in 50.14 seconds on Friday. He is expected to make his next start in the $400,000, Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 18, trainer David Donk said.

- additional reporting by David Grening