05/21/2006 11:00PM

Romans appealing takedown


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Dale Romans said Monday that he has appealed the disqualification of Smart N Pretty from Friday's Grade 2, $250,000 at Pimlico.

Smart N Pretty, first across the wire, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Regal Engagement, was taken down by Pimlico stewards and placed second behind Regal Engagement, whom stewards ruled she fouled when the pair bumped in midstretch.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez, who rode Regal Engagement, said he thought Smart N Pretty had come out into the path of his mount. But Norberto Arroyo Jr., who rode Smart N Pretty, maintained that Dominguez and Regal Engagement initiated the contact. The chart of the race produced by Equibase notes that Smart N Pretty drifted out.

Romans said he did not believe the incident cost Regal Engagement a placing.

"I thought we were much the best," he said of Smart N Pretty.

Regal Engagement, about a half-length behind Smart N Pretty when the incident occurred with a sixteenth of a mile remaining, weakened after Dominguez steadied her when the two horses made contact. Well clear of the rest of the pack, she was then hand-ridden to the wire.

Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said a date for a hearing on the appeal has not been finalized, but would likely be scheduled for June 23. At the hearing, the commission would hear both sides of the case - one presented by the stewards and the other by those associated with Smart N Pretty - before extensively reviewing film of the race. Romans said he intends to show film shot by ESPN, which televised the race nationally.

A majority decision by the commission will determine whether to let the stewards' ruling stand or to overrule their disqualification, Hopkins said. There are nine members of the commission, but Hopkins speculated that only five or so might be able to attend the hearing because of other commitments.

Smart N Pretty, a 3-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality owned by Classic Star Racing LLC, had previously run third in the May 6 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs, where Romans is leading trainer. The Black-Eyed Susan would have been her first graded-stakes victory had she not been disqualified.

Sharp Humor to swim as therapy

Romans also said Monday that Sharp Humor, coming off recent surgery to remove a bone chip in a knee, would begin swimming next week and could return to training in six weeks. Some horsemen favor swimming or the use of an underwater treadmill as a method for maintaining fitness and health after surgery, while producing little concussion on joints.

Sharp Humor, 19th in the Kentucky Derby, won the Swale Stakes earlier this year and was second to Barbaro in the Florida Derby.

Meanwhile, Joint Effort, who beat Smart N Pretty in winning the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill, is being pointed toward the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill on June 3. There she is expected to meet Fantasy Stakes winner Ready to Please, among others.

Magna Graduate breezes for Foster

Magna Graduate, fourth to Electrocutionist in the Dubai World Cup on March 25, breezed five furlongs Sunday at Churchill in 1:00.20, setting him up for a likely start in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 17.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he isn't concerned about returning Magna Graduate to racing less than three months after shipping to Dubai and back.

"I think it's plenty of time," Pletcher said, pointing to Invasor's victory in the Pimlico Special in his first U.S. start since finishing fourth in the UAE Derby in Dubai, which was also run March 25.

World Cup competitors have a history of success in the Stephen Foster. Street Cry won both races in 2002, and Victory Gallop won the 1999 Foster after a third-place finish in the World Cup. Silver Charm ran second behind Awesome Again in the 1998 Foster after edging Swain in the Dubai World Cup.

Pletcher said he also plans to start Oonagh Maccool and La Reason in the Fleur dAe Lis Stakes on the Foster undercard. They finished first and second, respectively, in the Louisville Breeders' Cup on Kentucky Oaks Day.

Perfect Drift still on course

A sore foot kept Perfect Drift from a scheduled work this weekend, but trainer Murray Johnson said the setback is not expected to put the horse in jeopardy of missing the Stephen Foster, a race Perfect Drift won in 2003.

"It's not a big deal," Johnson said Monday. "He's had these things before and he usually recovers quickly. I'd expect him to headed back to the track by Wednesday of Thursday."

In his most recent start, Perfect Drift finished last of 10 horses following a troubled trip in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day. His foot was also a little tender after the race, Johnson said.

Perfect Drift, third in both the 2004 and 2005 renewals of the Foster, trains at Trackside, Churchill's offtrack training facility.