11/17/2003 12:00AM

Sciacca hopes trip snaps slump


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Slew Valley has lost his last 14 starts, a string dating back to June 6, 2001. His connections have picked a most interesting race in which to attempt to end that skid.

Slew Valley will make his next start in the $4 million Japan Cup on Nov. 30. On Monday, he worked one mile in 1:39.37 over Belmont Park's main track, and on Tuesday he was scheduled to depart New York en route to Tokyo via Anchorage, Alaska.

The likelihood of firm turf as well as an all-expenses paid trip to Japan were the reasons owner Jim Hindman and trainer Gary Sciacca decided to accept the invitation. Slew Valley is the only New York-based runner attempting the Japan Cup. Johar, who dead-heated for win in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Denon are other North American-based runners who have accepted invitations to the race.

"I beat Denon twice," Sciacca said. "Johar ran in 100-degree heat; that had to take something out of him. The horse that adjusts best is going to run best."

Though Slew Valley is winless since 2001, he has run some good races, especially at marathon distances. In 2001, when he was with trainer Michael Dickinson, Slew Valley finished second in the Bowling Green and third in the Sword Dancer. This year, after returning to Sciacca - for whom he began his career - Slew Valley finished third in the Sword Dancer and second in the Man o' War.

In the 2003 Sword Dancer, Sciacca believes Slew Valley made a premature move, going after favored Denon, who had made the lead about a half-mile from the wire. In the Turf Classic, Slew Valley raced much closer to the pace than usual.

"It's a shame he didn't win any of the big ones," Sciacca said. "He doesn't like it really soft, and he's going to get a good, firm turf."

On Monday, Sciacca wanted to put a good, stiff work into Slew Valley since, after he travels, Slew Valley will have to do five days of quarantine. During the quarantine period, he will be able do some light training.

"He's never really run a poor race, and they pay [$120,000] to finish eighth," said Sciacca, who anticipates the Japan Cup having 16 runners.

Sciacca said Jorge Chavez will ride Slew Valley in the Japan Cup.

Tales of Glory may try Delta Downs

Despite being pressed through a rapidly run opening half-mile, Tales of Glory drew off to a 6 1/2-length victory in a one-mile entry-level allowance race for juveniles on Sunday. Tales of Glory has now won his last two starts after finishing third to the subsequent stakes winner Smokume in his debut.

Impressed with the effort, trainer Todd Pletcher is considering running Tales of Glory in the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Dec. 5. Pletcher said he nominated Tales of Glory to the $200,000 Remsen here on Nov. 29, but fears that may be too close back.

"I got to learn some more about it," Pletcher said of the Delta Jackpot, a 1 1/16-mile race run around two turns out of a chute. "The timing of it is pretty good, it's a two-turn race - which would be good experience for him - and obviously it's a big purse."

Tales of Glory is a son of Honour and Glory who has shown more in the afternoons than he has in the morning, according to Pletcher. The bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne purchased Tales of Glory on behalf of Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor at the Keeneland 2-year-old sales for $320,000. Pletcher said that while Tales of Glory's workout for the sales was not fast, O'Byrne was taken by the way he galloped out.

"That's what intrigued Demi, and that's what he's done in his works for us," Pletcher said. "He gives us the impression, watching him, he will stretch out."

Pletcher has lined up several upcoming stakes for some of his other runners as well. Willard Straight, who won Sunday's King Cugat Stakes, and Go Deputy, an allowance winner here on Nov. 11, will both ship to California for the $600,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30.

Ashado, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up, worked five furlongs in 1:04.37 on Sunday and is being pointed to the $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes here on Nov. 29.

This weekend, Pletcher plans to run Balto Star in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap, but will evaluate the weather and turf condition before making a final decision. Hermione's Magic, who worked four furlongs in 48.45 seconds Monday, is being pointed to Sunday's Valley Stream Stakes.

Peeping Tom works, Reynolds waits

Peeping Tom breezed five furlongs in 1:01.77 Monday morning, but trainer Pat Reynolds said he is still not sure if his Grade 1-winning gelding will run in the Fall Highweight on Thanksgiving or the Grade 1 Cigar Mile two days later.

"Is it a play on words that we're waiting on the weights for the Fall Highweight," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he was told that the assigned highweight in the Fall Highweight must be given 140 pounds. Reynolds hopes Peeping Tom doesn't fit the bill of highweight.

"You never want to see your horse carry 140 pounds," Reynolds said.

Peeping Tom worked in company with Dash N Dance, a recent claim by Reynolds. Though Peeping Tom could not catch Dash N Dance in the work, Reynolds said that was not the goal.

"We try to keep a workmate with him so he finishes through the lane," Reynolds said. "When he won the General George at Laurel, a sixteenth of a mile after the wire, he was sniffing the outside fence. I ran down to see if he had gotten hurt and the jock said he just stopped running after we hit the wire. He's always been like that, so we try to keep him interested."

Reynolds said that Shawklit Mint, a graded-stakes-winning New York-bred mare, will make her next start in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap on Nov. 28.

* Spice Island, the upset winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Long Island Handicap, came out of her race in good order, according to trainer John Pregman, and will be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder on Dec. 27.