10/11/2004 11:00PM

Second of June working again

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MIAMI - Eight months after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured leg suffered in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, Second of June was back on the work tab Monday at Calder, breezing three furlongs in 35.39 seconds.

Second of June was among the leading Kentucky Derby prospects early last winter after winning Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. He enhanced his reputation with a game second-place finish behind Read the Footnotes in the Fountain of Youth, only to have his Derby hopes end later that afternoon, when trainer Bill Cesare discovered the injury, a non-displaced condylar fracture of the cannon bone.

Cesare took his time once Second of June was cleared to return to training early this summer, giving him three months of jogging and galloping before Monday's work.

"It sure was great to finally see him back out there working again," Cesare said on Monday. "It's been exactly 239 days since he got hurt, and considering how long he'd been away I thought he went great today. He did it all on his own and galloped out very strong. I didn't even give him any Lasix. He's probably already fit to run a mile if I wanted to, and it shouldn't take too long to get him up to a race."

Second of June, who galloped out a half mile in 48 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form, was a bit lathered up during Monday's work, but Cesare said it was par for the course.

"He got a bit anxious and hot before several of his races, but that's just him," said Cesare. "And I'm sure he was a little more keyed up than normal this morning since it was his first serious work in so long."

Cesare said he has not yet decided when Second of June will run.

"Right now the important thing is to keep him healthy," said Cesare. "If all goes well I might be able to run him in December. I have no immediate goals, although the Sunshine Millions at the end of January at Gulfstream would be one possibility."

Formal Miss gains ground in division

WinStar Galaxy winner Stay Forever is obviously the best of the older filly and mare turf horses stabled on the grounds. But with her dance card filled with bigger and better things, leadership in the local division has been up for grabs all summer.

Formal Miss put in her bid for the top spot once again Sunday with a one-length victory over Iowa's Image in the Garden Saint Stakes. A 4-year-old daughter of Formal Dinner, Formal Miss had lost some luster following a disappointing showing in the Georgia Peaches Stakes, but bounced back with a huge effort Sunday under a brilliantly orchestrated ride by Manoel Cruz.

The odds board for the Garden Saint indicated how wide open the division is, with Formal Miss and Alix M. going off the favorites at 3-1, and Iowa's Image and Teak Totem each closing at 7-2.

Alix M. was impressive in her turf debut, finishing a tiring third after contesting the pace with Teak Totem into the stretch.

Moran shifts career to Florida

Mike Moran, who has won over 2,000 races in his career, joined the local jockey colony last week while also reuniting with his brother, Cory, who will handle his riding engagements.

Moran began riding at age 16 at Thistledown in 1977 and was an immediate sensation. Unfortunately, he came along at the same time as another teenaged wonder, Steve Cauthen, who also launched his career that season at River Downs. Moran won 223 races in 1977, easily the second highest total of any apprentice in the country, but far behind Cauthen's national-best 487 victories.

Moran went on to capture 10 riding titles at Thistledown and another at Tampa Bay Downs. He retired from the saddle in 1995 for personal reasons after which he worked as a jockey agent both in Ohio and more recently Southern California.

Moran returned to the saddle to gallop horses earlier this year and, once able to get back to riding weight, decided to resume his career. He won races at both Hollywood Park and Del Mar during the summer. But with the competition heating up at the beginning of the Oak Tree meeting, Moran decided to try his luck in south Florida.

"Mike's had a good career," said Cory Moran. "He's won nearly 50 stakes, ridden some big-time horses, and should fit in real well here if given the opportunity"

* Mike Abes was named vice president and general manager at Calder earlier this week. Abes replaces Randall Soth, who left the position to become president of Fair Grounds Race Course. Abes will also retain his position of track treasurer.

* Mark Johnson, one of Britain's top horse racing commentators, will call two races on Thursday's card. It will mark the fourth time in as many years that Johnson has been guest announcer at the track.