Updated on 09/15/2011 12:42PM

Red Bullet fires off year-long layoff


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Red Bullet, the 2000 Preakness winner, made a triumphant return to the races off more than a year layoff Saturday at Saratoga, taking a classified allowance by 1 1/2 lengths.

It was the first start for Red Bullet since July 9, 2000, when he finished third in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. He was coming back from a list of infirmities, including a foot abscess and a minor leg fracture.

Under Jerry Bailey, Red Bullet stalked a three-horse speed duel, swung four wide around the turn, and galloped home an easy winner - despite not changing leads until the wire. He ran seven furlongs in a swift 1:21.99 and returned $3 to win.

"He did it on his own," said Bailey, who won four races on the card. "I was debating if I should let him sit behind horses or let him go out and ease out around them. He was eager to run, so I let him take the overland route."

Trainer Joe Orseno, who earlier this week watched his barn's Macho Uno lose by a nose in his comeback, was thrilled with Red Bullet's effort and plans to point him to the $500,000 Woodward Stakes on Sept. 8. If he runs there, Red Bullet would most likely meet Lido Palace and Albert the Great, the one-two finishers of the Whitney Handicap, run earlier on the card.

Orseno dedicated the race to Deanna Suplina, the mother of Orseno's girlfriend, Michelle Congelosi, who died earlier this week. Before the race, Orseno had attended Suplina's funeral in Goshen, N.Y., a two-hour ride from Saratoga.

A P Valentine sharp in Jim Dandy drill

A P Valentine, runner-up to Point Given in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, put in his final preparation for next Saturday's Grade 1 Jim Dandy by working five furlongs in 59.80 seconds Saturday over Saratoga's main track. A P Valentine worked in company with stablemate It's So Simple, who was also timed in 59.80.

"He did it in hand, just real relaxed, looked beautiful," trainer Nick Zito said. "He's getting ready for the second half of the year and I'm so grateful how he looks."

A P Valentine was one of four horses to run in all three of this year's Triple Crown races. After a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby, in which he was stopped cold down the backside, A P Valentine rebounded with solid efforts in the Preakness and Belmont.

"He was gallant in all three Triple Crown races; how many times do we have to play the Kentucky Derby tape?" Zito said. "The second half of the year is coming and, hopefully, he'll get going."

Victor Espinoza, who rode A P Valentine in the Preakness and Belmont, will come in from California to ride in the Jim Dandy.

As of Saturday, the Jim Dandy field was in flux. Congaree, the Swaps winner, is scheduled to ship here from California on Wednesday. However, trainer Bob Baffert has hinted that if Captain Steve ran poorly in Sunday's San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, he might keep Congaree in Southern California and point him to the Pacific Classic.

If Congaree comes to Saratoga, his presence will keep the field for the Jim Dandy small. Considered definite starters are Drewman, Griffinite, Kid Rigo, and Windsor Castle. Possible starters are Indygo Shiner, Free of Love, and Scorpion. Dollar Bill and E Dubai are doubtful.

Tom Albertrani, the assistant to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said E Dubai would most likely just train up to the Travers on Aug. 25. E Dubai, winner of the Dwyer Stakes last out, on Saturday breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80.

McGaughey off to hot start

Putting a dismal Belmont spring-summer meeting behind him, trainer Shug McGaughey is off to a quick start at Saratoga, winning with two of his first four starters at the meet. McGaughey sent out Polish Miner, who won on Thursday, and Vespers, who won Friday. At Belmont, McGaughey went 1 for 40.

"I'm glad to get Belmont behind me," McGaughey said. "I thought if I got off to a good start [at Saratoga} I might have a decent meet. I've got some horses that are doing good and there are the right spots for them."

Wednesday, McGaughey will send out Country Hideaway in the Honorable Miss Stakes, a prep for the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 26. Country Hideaway, the runner-up in last year's Ballerina, breezed three furlongs in 37.50 seconds Saturday over the Oklahoma training track.

Country Hideaway has not been out since May 19, when she finished third in the Shuvee Handicap at Belmont. McGaughey said he did not have a place to run her in the interim, and likes that she is fresh for this meet.

Last year, Country Hideaway finished a well-beaten fifth in the Honorable Miss, over a sloppy track. McGaughey said, "something happened up here last year and she didn't do good until after this race. Then she ran good in the Ballerina."

Pat Day will ride Country Hideaway in the Honorable Miss because John Velazquez, aboard for Country Hideaway's win in the Bed o' Roses, will ride topweight Dat You Miz Blue. Also expected to run are Big Bambu, Shine Again, Precious Feather, and Easy Action.

* On Travers Day, Saratoga will offer a pick four with a guaranteed minimum pool of $500,000 on races 8 through 11. The races include the $200,000 Fourstardave, the $200,000 King's Bishop, the $1 million Travers, and an allowance race.