07/11/2002 11:00PM

Saarland training for fall


ELMONT, N.Y. - Saarland, who suffered a chip in his ankle while finishing 10th as the co-second choice in the Kentucky Derby, rejoined trainer Shug McGaughey's stable Monday and will be pointed to a fall campaign.

Saarland underwent surgery the day after the Derby to remove a chip from his left front ankle. Earlier this month, he began jogging on the Kentucky farm where he was recovering, and will continue to jog for the remainder of July, according to Buzz Tenney, McGaughey's assistant. In August, Saarland will begin galloping and will likely start breezing in September.

"He looks good," Tenney said. "There seems to be no problems at all, the ankle looks good. He could make the end of the Belmont [fall] meet."

If everything progresses well, Saarland could run in an allowance race or two and then the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

"We'll get him back this fall, but you want him ready for next winter," Tenney said.

Harlan's Holiday also aims at fall

Saarland and Medaglia d'Oro were the co-second choices in the Derby behind Harlan's Holiday, who finished seventh. In early June, Harlan's Holiday was transferred from trainer Ken McPeek to Todd Pletcher and only began galloping on Wednesday.

Pletcher said Harlan's Holiday would not make Saratoga and would be pointed to something like the $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 2 at Philadelphia Park or the $150,000 Jerome at Belmont on Sept. 14.

Business booming

Buoyed by a record Belmont Stakes Day as well as strong weekend business, the Belmont Park spring/summer meet will finish with gains in all categories when the 55-day stand concludes on July 21.

Through Thursday, Belmont was enjoying an 8 percent increase in attendance, a 4 percent improvement ontrack handle and a whopping 15 percent bump in total handle from last year.

The Belmont Stakes crowd of 103,222 was nearly 30,000 larger than 2001 and was the highest Belmont crowd by almost 18,000 fans. The Belmont Stakes ontrack figure of $12,045,114 broke the previous mark of $10,581,093 set in 2001. The total handle of $90,708,830 topped the

2001 figure of $68,323,600. Average daily handle at this meet of $12,164,601 is up almost $1.5 million a day over last year.

Handle on Memorial Day weekend was up 34 percent while handle on July Fourth weekend was up 23 percent from the corresponding weekends in 2001.

New York Racing Association officials point to the reduction in takeout, instituted in late July 2001, as the primary reason for the added business. Through Friday, NYRA has returned more than $36 million to bettors through the lower takeout.

Too Scarlet readies for Go for Wand

Too Scarlet, the talented New York-bred filly who won the WNBC Stakes on Belmont Day, drilled five furlongs in 1:01 on Friday in preparation for the Go for Wand Stakes at Saratoga on July 28. Belmont clockers caught Too Scarlet in fractions of 13 seconds, 25.20, 36.80, 49, and she galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.40 under exercise rider Steve Childs.

"I was pleased with her," trainer Kristina Dupps said.

Too Scarlet is coming out of a fourth-place finish in the Ogden Phipps Handicap in which Dupps felt Too Scarlet was farther off the early pace than usual.

"She fell back too far," Dupps said. "It somewhat took her out of her game plan."

Turnofthecentury readies for Shipman

Turnofthecentury, a multiple-stakes-winning New York-bred, fired a five-furlong bullet workout in 59.61 seconds over the main track Friday, and will most likely make his next start in the $75,000 Evan Shipman Stakes on July 21, closing day.

Turnofthecentury, a son of Holy Bull, is a multiple stakes winner with victories in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the Empire Classic, and the Alex Robb Handicap.

He came out of a last-place finish in the 2001 Manhattan Handicap with an injury and a few other minor problems kept him away from the races for a year. He returned in a brutally tough classified allowance race in which he finished last of seven.

Trainer Mike Hushion said he was training rather lethargically leading up to that June 20 race, but his Friday workout may have signaled a return to form.