08/24/2001 11:00PM

Rhum finally gets to face N.Y.-breds


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When trainer John Servis claimed New York-bred Rhum for Leonard C. Green in May at Atlantic City Racecourse, the plan was to race her at Belmont Park to take advantage of New York's state-bred program.

Servis was unable to find a spot for the 4-year-old Rhum in New York and instead ran her at Monmouth, where she won two allowance races, and then at Delaware Park, where she finished third in the $55,000 Beautiful Day Handicap at Delaware Park on July 16 in her last start.

On Monday at Saratoga, Servis finally has a found a state-bred race for Rhum: the $75,000 Yaddo Handicap, which drew 10 fillies and mares.

With the assigned highweights, Shopping for Love and Truebreadpudding, not in the field, the grass race is wide open.

Rhum is a serious threat after having won two races at the Yaddo's

1 1/8-mile distance. Servis said that Rhum, a $25,000 claim, has turned out to be a better buy than he had anticipated.

"The filly we were hoping for was a $25,000 filly," said Servis, who is based in Philadelphia Park. "I didn't think we were getting a filly like this.

"The horse who beat her at Delaware [Quidnaskra] is a nice horse, really solid. So it seemed like it was worth the trip to come [to Saratoga]."

Jose Velez Jr. rides the late-running Rhum, who drew post 5.

Scotty Schulhofer is hoping Pearly White can break him out of his 0-for-19 Saratoga slump in the Yaddo. Earlier in the week, the Hall of Fame trainer said he doesn't remember a time in his 51 years of coming to Saratoga, first as jump rider and now as a trainer, when he didn't win a race.

"It's the first time since 1950, if it happens," said Schulhofer.

Schulhofer's son and assistant, Randy, believes the Yaddo is a good spot for Pearly White, who won in open company on the dirt by 4 1/2 lengths in her last start on July 20 at Belmont. Last year, Pearly White won a grass race at Saratoga.

"She's pretty honest on both [surfaces]," Randy Schulhofer said. "She ran really good last time and finished up strong."

Edgar Prado rides from post 10.

Key Oui, the 117-pound highweight, finished second behind Truebreadpudding in the Mt. Vernon and showed little last out in open company.

Bay Dragon, who previously had showed early speed, came from off the pace to win a state-bred allowance at Belmont. Since then, Bay Dragon has trained strongly at Saratoga.