08/31/2001 12:00AM

Rivals find no joy in the loss of Point Given


The stunning announcement Friday of the retirement of Point Given brought mixed emotions from two trainers whose horses may stand to benefit greatly from his absence.

Joe Orseno and Ronny Werner, whose charges Macho Uno and Touch Tone square off in Monday's $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, were saddened to hear the news even though it may help their horses down the road.

Touch Tone, who drew post 3, and Macho Uno, who breaks from post 5, figure to be the top two choices in the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby, which drew a field of seven, including the filly Unbridled Elaine, who drew the rail. The other horses are Pleasant Divorce, Trion Georgia, It's So Simple, and Docent.

Macho Uno was one of the few horses to defeat Point Given, edging him by a nose in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile in a race that earned him the 2-year-old championship. This year, while Macho Uno was recovering from an ankle injury, Point Given was establishing himself as the top horse in the country with wins in the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, and Travers.

"I was one of the 60,000 clapping for the horse when he won the Travers," Orseno said. "What a performance. I feel sorry for Bob [Baffert]. He did a tremendous job with him. There's good news and bad news. The good news, it takes a very tough horse out of the equation. The bad news, it's going to be very tough to unseat him as 3-year-old champion. Now, he gets the sentimental vote, too."

In the Haskell, Touch Tone came within a half-length of upsetting Point Given. Werner said Point Given's retirement hurts the industry.

"I'm not happy about it," Werner said. "It helps my chances, but our industry needs horses like Point Given. You hate to see one of them drop off like that."

Macho Uno dropped off the map following his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win. An ankle problem forced him off the Triple Crown trail and he did not make his 3-year-old debut until July 25, when he finished second, beaten a nose, in a seven-furlong allowance race at Saratoga. Since then, Orseno has opted to put blinkers on the horse and he will run in them for the first time on Monday.

"Hopefully, they'll help him focus just enough in the race to finish the race on a good note," said Orseno.

Gary Stevens, the regular rider of Point Given, will ride Macho Uno.

At 114 pounds, Macho Uno will be in receipt of eight pounds from Touch Tone, who suffered a torn gluteal muscle in the Haskell which forced him to miss the Travers. Touch Tone, winner of the Alysheba Breeders' Cup and Iowa Derby earlier this year, looms the main speed under Robby Albarado.