06/20/2006 11:00PM

Salvator suits Flower Alley

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BC Classic runner-up Flower Alley found a good spot for his 2006 debut.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher considered a number of comeback options for Flower Alley.

One by one, Belmont Park races such as the Met Mile, the Suburban Handicap, and the Tom Fool fell out of consideration for various reasons ranging from distance to positioning on the calendar.

In the end, the Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile on Saturday at Monmouth Park made the most sense.

"He's a horse that is probably best suited for a middle-distance race for his first race back," said Pletcher. "He's probably a better two-turn horse than a one-turn horse."

On Saturday morning, Flower Alley will van down to Pletcher's barn at Monmouth.

"I would have loved to have run him here at Belmont because he's been training here, but there just wasn't a good alternative," Pletcher said.

Flower Alley will be making his first start since finishing second to Horse of the Year Saint Liam in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont on Oct. 29. The Breeders' Cup ended a campaign that included a Grade 1 win in the Travers and Grade 2 triumphs in the Lane's End and Jim Dandy.

Spun Sugar's blood count was off

Spun Sugar came back sound from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Phipps Handicap on Saturday but her post-race blood work was off.

"It revealed an elevated white count, so maybe she had a little bug brewing there," said Pletcher, who trains her.

Spun Sugar was the even-money favorite in the Phipps following a pair of victories to start her 4-year-old season, including the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

Spun Sugar bobbled at the break and never got into good tactical position. She finished 13 1/2 lengths behind runaway winner Take D' Tour.

"It would have been nice to be a little closer and been able to work our way to the outside," Pletcher said. "The start wasn't all that bad, but it did put us in a bad position."

Spun Sugar aims next for the Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 30.

Second place 'bit of a letdown'

Trainer Mike Hushion was supremely confident as he saddled Nothing But Fun for the Phipps, and the 4-year-old ran a terrific race to be a clear second behind the dominant Take D' Tour.

"That filly wasn't being caught," Hushion said. "At the quarter pole, I thought we had aim at her. I thought [Take D' Tour] used up some energy before the race and when she broke bad. I thought we'd be able to run her down, but she ran quite a race."

Although Nothing But Fun finished 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner, she was an imposing 7 3/4 lengths better than Balletto in third.

It was a quality effort, but one Hushion still wasn't able to savor four days after the race.

"I guess I should be happy with her, but I felt so good going in," he said. "Normally with a second in a Grade 1, you're very satisfied. The way she was training going into the race, it was a bit of a letdown."

Nothing But Fun has been remarkably consistent in her career. She has run seven times and suffered defeats only in her two Grade 1 attempts: the Phipps and a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last fall.

Hushion said Nothing But Fun's next race has not yet been decided.

Bush lauds Mount Vernon result

Trainer Tom Bush was very satisfied with efforts of 4-year-olds Finlandia and Rahys' Appeal as they ran second and third Sunday in the Mount Vernon Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares on the turf.

"They both ran exceptionally well," Bush said. "It was a shame not to win it, but the filly who won certainly deserved it."

Sabellina rallied from last in the 12-horse field, altering course in the stretch to outfinish Finlandia by a neck. Rahys' Appeal, who pressed the pace throughout, was 1 1/2 lengths behind her stablemate. Bush said Rahys' Appeal got slammed early and "that really put her right on the bridle. It would have been nice to save a little more but there she was, second going up the backside."

It was a second narrow statebred stakes defeat for Finlandia, who lost a division of the Yaddo to older rivals last summer at Saratoga by a head.

* A solid field is coming together for Belmont's Grade 2, $250,000 New York Breeders' Cup on Saturday. According to racing secretary P.J. Campo, likely runners include Angara, Asi Siempre, Dynamite Lass, Noble Stella, Omeya, Smart N Classy, and Sweet Science.

* Doug Hatten is now the agent for jockey Jean-Luc Samyn.