04/12/2006 11:00PM

Smuggler preparing to return


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Smuggler, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, is likely to make her return to the races in next Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap, trainer Shug McGaughey said Thursday.

Smuggler, unraced since winning the Coaching Club American Oaks last July 23, worked five furlongs in 1:01.47 Thursday over Belmont's main track. It was the sixth work of the year for Smuggler, who is expected to work again on Monday.

"If she works good Monday, I'll run," McGaughey said.

Smuggler, a Phipps Stable homebred daughter of Unbridled and Inside Information, won the divisional championship based on her Grade 1 wins in the Mother Goose and CCA Oaks.

Smuggler was being prepared for the Alabama in August, but came down with a temperature that would become a chronic problem the remainder of the year. After being sent to the farm in the late summer, Smuggler returned to McGaughey's barn in the fall, before getting sick again.

"We didn't treat her aggressively enough, trying to make the races without knocking her out," McGaughey said when asked why it took Smuggler so long to get over her first illness. "We got her all over that and I started [training] her, and I had a bunch of horses get sick in the barn and she got sick again. Then we shut her down."

Smuggler spent the winter at Gulfstream Park, where she breezed five times.

McGaughey said he wouldn't expect Smuggler to be at her best at seven furlongs - the distance of the Bed o' Roses - "but we need to get started," he added.

Others under consideration for the Bed o' Roses are Annika Lass, Grecian Lover, Magnolia Jackson, Stormy Kiss, and Trickle of Gold.

Godolphin runners arrive

While the racing world awaits a decision from Godolphin Racing about the Kentucky Derby status of Discreet Cat, 10 of his stablemates have arrived in New York and are bedded down in Barn 4 at Belmont Park.

The leader of the contingent is Testimony, who finished second to the highly regarded Discreet Cat in the UAE Derby on March 25. Testimony, a Florida-bred son of Yes It's True who cost $900,000 at auction, won his maiden at Belmont Park by 7 1/2 lengths last fall at Belmont.

Others in the group are 3-year-old maiden colts Rondo and Thoughtful Leader. Both horses finished second in their debuts in New York last year, but haven't raced since.

Assistant trainer Rachel Dore is in charge of the Godolphin contingent until Rick Mettee, who oversaw Godolphin's runners in New York last year, arrives next month.

Arroyo to ride in Delaware

Though he has done well in New York this winter and early spring, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. will soon be moving his tack to Delaware Park when that meet opens next week. Arroyo will miss the first two days of the Delaware meet to keep commitments in New York those days, but he will start riding there on April 24.

Arroyo has ridden 40 winners this year in New York and his six stakes wins are the most by any rider on this circuit. His 46 wins during the inner-track meet, which began on Nov. 30, tied him for fifth in the jockey standings.

Two years ago, Arroyo went to Delaware when the meet was one-third complete and rode 42 winners from 293 mounts. He expects to do better this year, as he will be there virtually from the start.

"To tell you the truth, I'm just looking to win a lot of races and make a lot of money," Arroyo said. "I'm not leaving because I'm not doing good here. I'm doing good here, I'm riding for everybody, but I'm looking to win more races and get more money over there. I know I'm going to do well."

In addition to riding in New York next weekend, he will also be here on April 29 and 30 for stakes engagements at Aqueduct.

Arroyo will be represented by agent Bill Castle.

Nelson shoots for summer return

After undergoing back surgery in late January, jockey Diane Nelson had hoped to be just about ready to return to race-riding. Unfortunately, Nelson had to undergo a second back operation last month and now will be out until late June or early July.

Nelson visited Aqueduct Thursday, when her father ran a horse.

In mid-March, Nelson saw her doctor, expecting to get cleared to ride. Instead, she was told she needed a second surgery, which was performed on March 20.

"It was basically the same surgery except they had to go in both sides," Nelson said. "I feel 75 percent better now than I did after the first surgery. The first time, it was three weeks before I was starting to get better."

Nelson said she has already begun physical therapy, but it will be another seven weeks before she can hope to begin getting on horses.

"It was a little frustrating because I thought I was going to be out six to eight weeks and it's going to be four or five months," she said. "I'm definitely coming back. The whole purpose of doing this is so I can come back."

* Trainer Gregg Matties sent out two longshot winners on Thursday's card. He won the fourth with Theresa's Decision ($54) and the seventh with Let Her Be ($80). Naturally, those results produced a pick-six carryover, of $32,896, into Friday's card.