02/23/2004 12:00AM

Redskin Warrior goes next in Gotham


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Jennifer Pedersen's initial reaction after winning Saturday's Best Turn Stakes with Redskin Warrior was that she wanted to stretch the colt out to two turns for his next start.

Pedersen has had a change of heart after talking to jockey Richard Migliore, who rode Redskin Warrior to a five-length victory in the Best Turn for 3-year-olds. Redskin Warrior, who is owned by Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in the six-furlong stakes.

"I did a lot of thinking, and I'm going to listen to [Migliore]," Pedersen said Monday morning. "He believes we should start at a mile, because Redskin is a very fast horse and we need to teach him to relax and rate. Richie is the pilot, so we are going to point to the Gotham."

The Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham, a mile race around one turn on Aqueduct's main track, will be run on March 20.

The Best Turn was Redskin Warrior's fourth career start and his first since Oct. 30. In early October at Belmont Park, Redskin Warrior won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 3 1/4 lengths. Twenty-eight days later, he won a six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct by 4 3/4 lengths. He was vanned off the track that day, Pedersen said, because he grabbed the quarters of both his forelegs during the running of the race.

Redskin Warrior, a son of Indian Charlie, isn't the only exciting 3-year-old owned by Paraneck. On Friday at Aqueduct, Song of the Sword impressively won his second consecutive start for Paragallo and Pedersen in a two-turn allowance race. He won his career debut earlier in February in a sprint race.

Pedersen reported that Song of the Sword, an Unbridled's Song colt, would run next in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 20. Last year, Pedersen and Paragallo won the 1 1/8-mile Lane's End with New York Hero.

Redskin Warrior and Song of the Sword have completely different attitudes toward racing, Pedersen said.

"Redskin always has a game face on," she said. "Sword's got all this ability, but could care less. He's still learning."

Is Pedersen's head swimming with Kentucky Derby dreams for Redskin Warrior and Song of the Sword?

"They both have the talent that would get you there," said Pedersen, who has never started a horse in the Derby.

If two promising 3-year-olds weren't enough, Pedersen also has Risky Trick in her barn. Risky Trick, who finished second in the Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes last month, will run in Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park.

Conman Cunningham in strong field of five

Pedersen, who keeps the majority of her horses at Aqueduct, was at Belmont Park on Monday to watch Conman Cunningham breeze a quarter-mile for Wednesday's $52,000 allowance/optional claimer, the fifth race on the card.

The clockers didn't record a time on Conman Cunningham, but apprentice Tim Thornton, who was aboard for the work and will ride the horse on Wednesday, said he was flying.

Conman Cunningham finished third on Feb. 14 in his first start since last August. Pedersen said the 6-year-old had some problems with his feet but is doing well now.

Pedersen had specific instructions for Thornton for Wednesday's race.

"He's a one-move horse," she told the rider. "Get going at the three-eighths [pole] and he'll come rolling. You should have some fun."

A strong field of five was entered in this six-furlong race, including stakes runners Super Fuse and Sing Me Back Home, as well as Secret Run, a winner of his last four starts. The race is the second leg of the pick six, which features a $40,934 carryover.

Gracious Humor, a winner of 5 of 7 starts, makes his first start for the meet's leading trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr. A partnership headed by Sanford Goldfarb bought Gracious Humor about four weeks ago from trainer Frank Springer, who is stabled at Fair Grounds. Springer trained War Emblem before selling him to trainer Bob Baffert, who then won the 2002 Kentucky Derby with the horse.

Dutrow had worked Gracious Humor last Friday with Wednesday's race in mind, but he wasn't terribly pleased with how the gelding has been training over the inner track.

"I wasn't going to run, but [the racing office] needed me, and I didn't mind helping," Dutrow said. "He's good enough to run, but we might have a better read on him when he gets on the main track."

Fit Performer a wet-track backup for Distaff

Fit Performer, who won Sunday's Carson Hollow Stakes for Dutrow, will be pointed to the $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct on March 27, but won't necessarily run.

Dutrow said he has earmarked the Grade 2 Distaff for She's Zealous, who won the Correction Handicap and beat Fit Performer in her last start on Jan. 31.

"I think She's Zealous is better, particularly at seven-eighths," Dutrow said. "But She's Zealous doesn't like an off track and Fit Performer does, so I'll have her ready for the race just in case."

Dutrow has training title sewn up

With only 10 more racing days scheduled on the inner track, Dutrow has locked up the training title with 41 wins, a staggering 23 more than Bruce Levine, who is in second place.

Apprentice Pablo Fragoso also holds a comfortable advantage, albeit a smaller one than Dutrow's, with 58 winners in the jockey's race. Shaun Bridgmohan is in second with 45 winners.