07/26/2005 11:00PM

Second of June as unlucky as he is talented


MIAMI - Trainer Bill Cesare had hoped to spend much of the summer barnstorming the country with handicap star Second of June. Unfortunately for Cesare, a former NFL player, those plans went awry in early May after Second of June came down with an osselet in his left hind ankle shortly before his scheduled start in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special.

So now Cesare must be content with smaller victories, like the one he scored here Tuesday with Weoka in a $26,000 allowance race, while biding his time until Second of June returns to action later this year.

"He's doing good," Cesare said Tuesday when asked how Second of June is progressing. "He just got a little arthritic calcium buildup in the joint area of his ankle. Usually you'd pin-fire something like that to get the calcium to keep growing, but I just blistered him and he's coming along nicely."

Cesare said that if all continues to go smoothly, Second of June should return to training here by the first of September.

"We'll take one more shot with him and try to get a Grade 1 win on his resume next year," said Cesare. "This injury was very depressing, because at the time he was running extremely well and I felt confident he would hit the board, if not be able to win, the Pimlico Special. And with Ghostzapper and Eddington now retired, he'd have fit nicely in the handicap division the rest of the year."

Cesare was forced to lay up Second of June from February until December of his 3-year-old campaign after he suffered a condylar fracture of the cannon bone in the 2004 Fountain of Youth Stakes. The trainer said he will likely

follow a similar schedule with Second of June following this latest setback.

"I'd like to get him back for a race at the end of the Tropical at Calder meet in December, and then would probably point him for the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream next winter," said Cesare.

Cruz closes in on Castro in jockey race

Tuesday has become Cruz-day at Calder the past two weeks - as in jockey M.R. Cruz, who won three races on the July 17 card and four more this past Tuesday.

Cruz's four-bagger this week came in succession in races 2 through 5, beginning aboard Stormworthy and continuing with Ask Alie to Dance, Native Miss, and Weoka.

Cruz, the 2003 Calder riding champ, has faced an uphill battle chasing leader Eddie Castro all meet long. But with his recent hot streak, Cruz will enter Friday's card trailing Castro by only a 112-102 margin, the closest he has been to the top in several months.

Statue solid choice if she draws into stakes

Both Castro and Cruz will be on live mounts in Friday's $40,000 Noble Robyn Stakes. That is, if Statue draws in off the also-eligible list for trainer Marty Wolfson.

Statue, with Castro aboard, has won her last two starts, including the Sweettrickydancer Stakes by four lengths on July 12, and will be heavily favored if she gets the opportunity to compete in the Noble Robyn.

Cruz will counter in the Noble Robyn with Tiger Belle, who, like Statue, owns a two-race win streak. An improving daughter of Tiger Ridge, Tiger Belle defeated older horses in her last start, rallying from last after the opening half-mile to win a second-level allowance race on the turf on July 18. Tiger Belle is trained by David Muench for her breeder, Robert Roffey Jr.

Ragtime Hope, who rallied to finish a distant second behind Statue in the Sweettrickydancer, is among the other top contenders in the Noble Robyn, along with Wise Briana and Darluna.

Silver Wagon has first work after injury

Silver Wagon, sidelined briefly by a foot bruise suffered just days before his scheduled start in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap here July 10, had his first work since the injury Wednesday, going an easy three furlongs from the quarter pole to the seven-eighths pole here in 37.80 seconds.

Silver Wagon is scheduled to ship to Saratoga along with a small contingent of horses from trainer Ralph Ziadie's barn and will be pointed for the Grade 1 Forego Handicap on Sept. 3.