07/08/2004 12:00AM

Quantum Merit might shoot


ELMONT, N.Y. - It's not often that a trainer has to pick between running in a Grade 1 stakes or a New York-bred race, but Del Carroll II is facing that decision with Quantum Merit.

The Grade 1 Arlington Million probably will win out over the $100,000 West Point Handicap, a restricted race at Saratoga Aug. 15. The Million will be run at Arlington Park on Aug. 14.

Carroll said Quantum Merit, who became a graded winner in last Saturday's Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs, is in such good form it might be the right time to aim high.

"I'm going to have to be discouraged not to run in [the Million]," Carroll said. "The horse has certainly given us confidence to think about it. But we'll see how much my knees shake when I see who is going to run there."

Quantum Merit won the $287,750 Firecracker by 1 1/2 lengths over Senor Swinger, who was disqualified from second and placed third for interference. A one-mile race, the Firecracker was Quantum Merit's fourth consecutive win. He won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes in November at Aqueduct. This year, Quantum Merit also won an optional claimer and the restricted Kingston Stakes.

Preachinatthebar tries to rebound

Following disappointing performances in the Blue Grass and Sir Barton, Preachinatthebar seeks his first win since the Grade 2 San Felipe in March in Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer at Belmont Park.

A Grade 2 race, the Dwyer will be Preachinatthebar's first race since undergoing throat surgery - a simple surgical procedure called a myectomy - to correct a breathing problem.

Trainer Bob Baffert sent Preachinatthebar to Belmont last week from Churchill Downs, where Preachinatthebar has been training since the spring. After winning the San Felipe by a nose, Preachinatthe-bar was beaten 30 1/2 lengths in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. Baffert considered running him in the Kentucky Derby, but when Preachinatthebar worked dully before the race, Baffert scrapped that idea.

Baffert said he was looking forward to a big effort from Preachinatthebar in the Sir Barton at Pimlico on May 15, but Preachinatthebar chased the pace and faded to fifth as the favorite.

"I was pretty disappointed, because I thought he would run really well at Pimlico. He looked home free, but he didn't kick," Baffert said. "It was a breathing issue, so we did the myectomy. It seems to have helped him."

Preachinatthebar has had a couple of sharp works recently at Churchill Downs, including a bullet five furlongs in 59.90 seconds June 27. Jerry Bailey has the mount in the Dwyer.

In addition to Preachinatthebar, the other horses probable for the Dwyer are The Cliff's Edge, Shaniko, Sir Shackleton, Ecclesiastic, and Golden Look.

Teton Forest points to King's Bishop

Baffert also nominated Teton Forest to the Dwyer, but decided to skip the race and point him to the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 28. In his last start, Teton Forest was beaten a head by Fire Slam in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup on June 5.

Other horses Baffert plans to run at the Saratoga meet include Prioress winner Friendly Michelle, who is headed to the Grade 1 Test on July 31. Multiplication, who won the Mike Lee at Belmont on June 26 for Baffert, will run next in the New York Derby on July 17 at Finger Lakes and back in the Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Baffert said Yearly Report, scheduled to start in the $500,000 Delaware Oaks on July 17, is a candidate for the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 21.

Shin is nagging Limited Entry

Trainer Rusty Arnold reported that Limited Entry, the runner-up in the Fashion Stakes in June, has been sent to owner G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Kentucky farm to recover from a shin that is troubling her.

Arnold said Limited Entry, a 2-year-old filly, could be ready for a return to the races in November.

In her last start, Limited Entry finished fourth in the Astoria Stakes.

Stewards fine Dutrow

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. was fined $2,500 by the Belmont stewards for "failure to tend to business in a proper manner, which necessitated a late scratch." Dutrow entered Gallant Sir in Sunday's eighth race at Belmont and also in a race at Monmouth on the same day. The horse was scratched from both races. In New York, trainers are not supposed to cross-enter horses at two tracks on the same day in overnight races unless their first intent is to run in New York.

* Astoria winner Broadway Gold, preparing for the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes on opening day of the Saratoga meet July 28, worked a half-mile in 48.07 seconds Thursday over Belmont's training track.

* Apprentice Fernando Jara was sent to North Shore University Hospital after he fell from his mount, Say Cousin Lenny, in Thursday's fifth race. Jara rode Say Cousin Lenny up on the heels of another horse near the top of the stretch. Say Cousin Lenny stumbled and unseated Jara.

Jara's agent, Jose Rivera, said Jara wasn't injured and would ride Friday.