02/14/2002 12:00AM

Saratoga Blues aiming for Gotham


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Saratoga Blues, unbeaten in three starts after winning last Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes over the inner track, will most likely make his next start in the $200,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 17, trainer Tony Dutrow said Thursday.

Though Dutrow would prefer to keep * racing around two turns, he said the one-mile, one-turn Gotham is a better spot than the Louisiana Derby on March 10 or the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park on March 2. Both of those races are run at 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

"He'll face better horses in the Gotham and I think he needs to face better horses," Dutrow said. "If he's a decent kind of horse he'll switch back [to one turn]. He should get some speed to run at and he'll get experience which he desperately needs."

Although Dutrow said the Battaglia is still a possibility, he doubted whether that race would draw the type of competition that would give Dutrow a better line on his 3-year-old. Dutrow ruled out the Louisiana Derby because he does not want to ship Saratoga Blues to a different climate.

The Grade 3 Gotham is run over Aqueduct's main track - which is slated to open March 13 - and serves as a prep for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 13. Among the horses Saratoga Blues could face in the Gotham is Saarland, winner of last year's Remsen Stakes and one of the top 3-year-olds on the East Coast.

Dutrow said Saratoga Blues came out of the Whirlaway "fresh as a daisy."

Though Dutrow and owner Alvin Akman have received several offers for Saratoga Blues, Dutrow said there are no plans to sell.

Wrangler to run in General George

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens on Thursday confirmed that Wrangler, winner of the Paumonok Handicap, will run in Monday's $200,000 General George Handicap at Laurel Park. That means Jerkens will run two horses in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 race as he will also send out Voodoo.

Wrangler is coming off a 2 3/4-length victory in the Paumonok here on Jan. 26. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110, the second straight race in which he has earned that figure. Overall, Wrangler has won five of his last seven starts.

The General George will be only the second time Wrangler has run at seven furlongs. He finished third in a preliminary allowance in October 2000.

"The extra furlong is a question mark," Jerkens said. "The way he ran the last two times it doesn't look like it would be, but I still can't tell how long his run is. He won going 6 1/2."

Last week, Jerkens said he was concerned about shipping Wrangler to an unfamiliar track because of his quirky habits. But, Jerkens said Wrangler has a habit of getting his act together on race day.

"It seems like he knows the difference between practice and racing," Jerkens said. "He wants to go out there and run and do as little as he can in between."

Jerkens intended to blow out Voodoo at Aqueduct on Friday and ship him to Maryland on Saturday. He said he would not ship Wrangler until race day.

"Voodoo sometimes ships and gets upset, and I want to school him in the paddock over there," said Jerkens, who opted to school Wrangler in Aqueduct's paddock on Thursday.

Rochelle's Terms retired

Rochelle's Terms, upset winner of last November's Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap, has been retired from racing, trainer Howie Tesher said Thursday.

Tesher was pointing Rochelle's Terms to Monday's $100,000 Rare Treat Handicap, but said the 5-year-old mare was suffering from general body soreness as a result of hitting the gate when fourth in a Jan. 30 classified allowance race.

"She didn't come back too good and I thought it was in her best interests to stop on her," Tesher said from Florida. "On Tuesday we let her gallop and she never picked it up."

Rochelle's Terms, a daughter of Private Terms-Make Yourself, by Track Barron, had a record of 5-3-6 from 23 starts and earned $248,637 for Gary Katz's Four Media Farm. Katz purchased Rochelle's Terms for $82,000 and named her for his wife, Rochelle.