09/10/2002 12:00AM

Shiny Band sizzles in work

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Last Saturday, after watching Shine Again and Shiny Band put in mediocre three-furlong workouts over Belmont Park's training track, trainer Allen Jerkens was puzzled about which upcoming stakes to enter the half-sisters in.

Jerkens's choices for the two Maryland-bred mares are this Saturday's Grade 1 Ruffian at 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 3 Floral Park at six furlongs. Shine Again, the 4-year-old who successfully defended her Grade 1 Ballerina crown at Saratoga last out, has been sprinting successfully, while Shiny Band, a 5-year-old who won the Grade 2 Shuvee at a mile in May, has been routing unsuccessfully.

"I was thinking about sharpening Shiny Band and running in the Floral Park, but I don't know what happened to her speed," Jerkens said Saturday.

On Tuesday, Shiny Band found her speed and Jerkens's dilemma was solved. Shiny Band will run in the $100,000 Floral Park and Shine Again will try the $300,000 Ruffian.

Working over the main track, and with blinkers on, Shiny Band blazed four furlongs in 45.27 seconds, easily the fastest of 27 works at the distance. Belmont clockers timed her in fractions of 10.63 seconds and 21.84, and caught her galloping out five furlongs in 58.86, which would have been the bullet move at five furlongs.

"You go from one extreme to the other," Jerkens said. "I put blinkers on her and I thought she'd go in 47. I didn't dream she'd go that fast. I don't know if that'll help her or hinder her."

Jerkens also wasn't sure if he would run Shiny Band in the Floral Park with blinkers, which she has not worn in any of her previous 22 races. "Probably can't hurt," he said. "You're going to have to go like hell to keep up with that other filly."

Jerkens was referring to Carson Hollow, the speedy New York-bred who likely will be favored in the Floral Park, which is being run as a graded race for the first time in its eight-year history.

Shine Again tries to stretch out

When Shine Again runs in the $300,000 Ruffian, it will be her first race beyond a mile since June 30, 2001, when she finished third in the Molly Pitcher Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth Park. Before that, she won the Geisha Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to Maryland-breds at Pimlico.

On Tuesday, she breezed seven furlongs in 1:28.47. Her fractions, according to the Belmont clockers, were 24.98 seconds and 49.21 and she galloped out a mile in 1:44.

"The reason I'm trying this is she seems to rate kinder than she used to, and I thought maybe that would make her get the trip," Jerkens said.

Shine Again demonstrated her willingness to rate in the Ballerina, when she sat fourth before rallying three wide in the stretch to beat Raging Fever and Mandy's Gold and become the first repeat winner of that Grade 1, seven-furlong race.

Both Raging Fever and Mandy's Gold will try to stretch out in the Ruffian.

Raging Fever will carry top weight of 120 pounds, followed by Shine Again (117), You (117), Mandy's Gold (116), and Minister's Baby (116).

Puzzlement cuts back in Jerome

In addition to working his pair of fillies, Jerkens sent out Puzzlement for a five-furlong work in 1:00.47 in preparation for Saturday's $150,000 Jerome Handicap. Puzzlement will be cutting back from 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 1 Travers to a one-turn mile in the Grade 2 Jerome.

"I don't think it's too big a problem around one turn," Jerkens said. "If they're any good at all, they can win at a mile around one turn."

In the Travers, Puzzlement made a big move around the second turn to reach contention, but flattened out in the stretch and finished fifth, beaten nine lengths by Medaglia d'Oro. Jerkens reported that Puzzlement bled in the race and would run on Lasix for the first time in the Jerome.

Puzzlement's workout on Tuesday was conducted in blinkers, something Jerkens has used in Puzzlement's works before but not in his races. Jerkens said he is "still kicking around" the idea of using blinkers in the Jerome.

Puzzlement will be the Jerome's starting highweight at 118 pounds. Boston Common, who is under consideration to run, was also assigned 118. Others expected to run are: City Sharpster (116), Folkestone Park (116), No Parole (115), Tonyspal Craig (115), City Fear (114), Rum Splasher (114), and Dial a Hero (113).

Carson Hollow sharp for Floral Park

Carson Hollow completed her preparations for the Floral Park with a strong half-mile move in 47.05 seconds Tuesday at Aqueduct. It was the second-fastest of eight moves at the distance.

The Floral Park will be Carson Hollow's first race since she suffered a heart-breaking nose loss to You in the Grade 1 Test. In addition to that being her first defeat in five starts, the loss cost trainer Tony Dutrow and his partners $250,000. Frank Stronach, who had purchased 60-percent interest in the 3-year-old filly after her victory in the Grade 1 Prioress, said he would pay Dutrow and the other owners a $250,000 bonus if she won the Test.

While Dutrow said he was proud of Carson Hollow's effort in the Test, he believes she cost herself the race when she glanced over at You, who was coming up the rail, in the stretch.

"If you watch the rerun you'll see at the eighth pole our filly looked over at her and again a few jumps from the wire her head went up and off to the side and she looks right at You and I believe that's why we didn't win," Dutrow said.

Following the Test, Dutrow said he hoped to run Carson Hollow in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Tuesday, he said Carson Hollow would run have to run a real big race Saturday to be considered for the Sprint.

Although she will be the only 3-year-old in the race, Carson Hollow will carry co-highweight of 117 pounds in the Floral Park. Gold Mover, who won last year's Floral Park, also will carry 117. Shiny Band was assigned 115 pounds followed by Sweet Nanette (114), and La Galerie (113).

* Volponi, the Poker Handicap winner, will be the 117-pound starting highweight in Saturday's $200,000, Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap. He is expected to face only four rivals including Startac (116), Dr. Kashnikow (115), El Gran Papa (114), and Spruce Run (113).