08/18/2003 11:00PM

Sky Jack warms up for Mile


AUBURN, Wash. - Sky Jack, the 123-pound highweight for Sunday's Grade 3 Longacres Mile, took to the Emerald Downs track for the first time on Tuesday morning for an easy gallop under exercise rider Carol Hubbird.

"I just backtracked him, then turned around and galloped a mile," said Hubbird, who serves as assistant to local trainer Terry Gillihan. "He went fine. He's a pro."

Sky Jack, who will be saddled by trainer Doug O'Neill, arrived at Emerald on Monday and settled into Gillihan's barn nicely, according to his regular groom, Savas Riberara.

"I thought he'd be more nervous, but he's fine," said Riberara. "In my opinion, he is ready to run a good race."

Sky Jack will head a full field of 12 in Sunday's 68th Longacres Mile, but it is unclear whether Private Lap or Salt Grinder will take the last spot in the gate. Trainer Steve Klesaris has been trying to make arrangements to fly Private Lap and Wired N Ready, a 3-year-old filly with designs on Saturday's $100,000 Washington Oaks, to Emerald from Delaware Park. Klesaris could not be reached on Tuesday morning to confirm that arrangements have been made.

If Private Lap, who was weighted at 114 pounds, does not start in the Mile, the door will be opened for Salt Grinder, who has a 112-pound assignment. Trainer Jim Penney, whose four Longacres Mile wins include upsets by Edneator in 2000 and Sabertooth last year, badly wants to run Salt Grinder in the Mile. He said the 4-year-old Salt Grinder worked three furlongs in 33.60 under exercise rider Bryson Cooper on Tuesday.

Those assured of spots in the gate are Sky Jack at 123 pounds with Russell Baze riding; Gondolieri, 121, Frank Alvarado; Nose the Trade, 118, Jose Valdivia; Alfurune, 116, Juan Gutierrez; Flying Notes, 116, Kevin Radke; Lord Nelson, 116, Frank Fuentes; Moonlight Meeting, 116, Gary Baze; Poker Brad, 116, Ben Russell; Total Limit, 116, Scott Saito; Handy N Bold, 115, no rider named; and Sabertooth, 115, Gallyn Mitchell.

Flying Notes, who was named horse of the meeting last year at Emerald as a 3-year-old, drilled five furlongs in 1:00 under Radke on Tuesday morning.

"It was just what I wanted, but I'm still not sure he is ready," said trainer Bud Klokstad. "I would have liked to run him once more before the Mile."