08/07/2004 12:00AM

Right distance for Rochester

JJ Zamaiko Photography
Rochester (center) has five wins for trianer Jonathan Sheppard at 1 1/2 miles, the distance of Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Jonathan Sheppard saddled With Anticipation to consecutive victories in the Sword Dancer Invitational when With Anticipation was 6 and 7.

Next Saturday, Sheppard will try to go one better when he sends out the 8-year-old Rochester in the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer at Saratoga. Rochester is far less accomplished than With Anticipation was, but the Sword Dancer appears to be coming up far less difficult than in years past.

A son of Green Dancer, Rochester has won 10 of 34 lifetime starts, but has only one victory in his last 11 outs. That win came via disqualification in the Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap last September. Rochester, however, has recorded five of his 10 victories at the Sword Dancer distance of 1 1/2 miles.

In his last start, Rochester was beaten a nose by Silverfoot in the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs. Silverfoot is expected to run in the Sword Dancer as well.

"He actually took the lead [too] early," Sheppard said, recalling the Louisville. "He was sitting behind a wall of horses. Turning for home a little gap opened up, and Cornelio [Velasquez] went for it, which was probably the right thing to do. But all of a sudden he's a length clear at the eighth pole. He started to hang a little bit, and these closers were rushing on and just nailed him in the last stride."

Though Rochester is 8, Sheppard notes he did not make his debut until he was 4. Rochester has been hampered by foot problems, which may preclude him from running in the Sword Dancer if the Saratoga turf course is too firm.

"We're hoping we're not going to get that," Sheppard said. "If it's real hard, it's possible we won't even run him."

As of Saturday, those pointing to the Sword Dancer included Balto Star, Better Talk Now, King's Drama, Request for Parole, and Silverfoot. Senor Swinger is possible. An alternate list is expected to be released Monday.

With Anticipation was retired last year because of a leg injury. Sheppard said he recently shipped With Anticipation to owner George Strawbridge's farm in Pennsylvania.

"We waited till his leg was well healed; I had kept him under my care," Sheppard said. "I think they're going to bring him up in the fall and start riding him and doing a little fox hunting with him."

Hard Buck to skip Sword Dancer

Trainer Ken McPeek, who has been a world traveler this summer, spent his first morning of the meet on the Saratoga backstretch Saturday. Though McPeek has nominated Hard Buck to the Sword Dancer, he said it is doubtful Hard Buck would run.

Hard Buck, who won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, is coming off a second-place finish behind Doyen in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last month at Royal Ascot.

"He's just getting back to galloping," McPeek said. "I'm not sure what we're going to do with him. We may wait for the [Man o' War at Belmont on Sept. 11] or we may take him to Baden Baden for the race in Germany."

McPeek also nominated the Brazilian Group 1 winner Gorylla to the Sword Dancer, but said he is not ready yet.

Prince Arch, Timo point for Saranac

Prince Arch, who handed Kitten's Joy his only turf defeat in the Jefferson Cup, and Timo, winner of the Kent Breeders' Cup Handicap in his last start, both passed on Monday's Hall of Fame Stakes, but are hoping to make the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac on Sept. 6.

Prince Arch is getting a little freshening after running third in the Virginia Derby on July 10. Timo was forced to miss the Arlington Classic because of a foot abscess that has cost him some significant training time. Timo was scheduled to be fitted with glue-on shoes Saturday and resume training Sunday.

"The only good thing is he was really, really fit when it happened so he didn't go back that far," said Billy Badgett, who trains Timo.

Cajun Beat arrives at the Spa

Cajun Beat, the champion sprinter of 2003, was scheduled to arrive in Saratoga on Saturday, and will continue to train towards a fall campaign. Cajun Beat, who was trained by Steve Margolis last year, is now in the barn of Bobby Frankel.

Cajun Beat has not run since finishing fourth in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad al Sheba in March. According to Frankel, Cajun Beat has had four workouts, though he has only been credited for two. On Wednesday, he worked five furlongs in 1:00.48 at Belmont Park.

"He needs a few more works," said Frankel, who said Cajun Beat also worked three furlongs on two occasions. "I just got him the day before we came up here; he looked good. They told me he wasn't a good work horse, but we worked him a half in [47.26 seconds] and five-eighths in a minute-and-two. Maybe, he'll be like Ghostzapper; he didn't work as a young horse the way he's working now."

Gate mishap results in $1 million in refunds

A total of $1 million had to be refunded to bettors who wagered on Colonial Bay in Saturday's opener.

Colonial Bay, who was sent off the even-money favorite, charged the starting gate just before it opened, and an assistant starter had a hold of the bridle, causing him to break well behind the field.

Colonial Bay finished eighth behind Rolled Stocking. The stewards posted the inquiry sign and declared the horse a non-starter, thus necessitating $997,548 in refunds.

Since the horse was declared a non-starter a claim put in for the horse was voided.

* Yearly Report, the Delaware Oaks winner, worked six furlongs in 1:12.61, handily, over the Saratoga main track Saturday. It was the fastest of three works at the distance. Yearly Report is preparing for the Grade 1, $750,000 Alabama on Aug. 21.

* Fleet Indian, the undefeated New York-bred, worked six furlongs in 1:14.28 over the main track. Jimmy Toner is pointing her to the Alabama as well, but wants to study the field before committing to the race.