11/10/2001 12:00AM

Spook Express going Hollywood


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Spook Express is California-bound.

After briefly considering a trip to Japan for the Japan Cup, trainer Tom Skiffington will stick with his original plan of running Spook Express - the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf - in the $500,000, Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25. Spook Express was to be flown to California on Monday, with Hollywood Derby hopeful Reduit and The Parting Glass, who will run in an allowance race.

"I don't think you can run in the Japan Cup as an afterthought," Skiffington said Saturday morning after putting Spook Express through an easy-half mile move in 48.66 seconds over Belmont Park's training track. "If you're going to run in the Japan Cup, that should be your primary objective and not do the Breeders' Cup thing, especially with a filly. It's difficult for a filly to beat colts. I didn't think it was fair bringing her back in that race."

Skiffington also believes that the Japanese horses are of better quality than a few years ago when he sent Maxzene there for the Japan Cup where she finished fifth.

"The Japanese have really caught up to us. They're winning major races all over the world," Skiffington said. "It used to be that we had them over a barrel, now I think the Japanese have us over a barrel."

Saturday's breeze was the first for Spook Express since she rallied to finish second behind Banks Hill in the Filly and Mare Turf.

"It's been two weeks since she ran. I had to do something with her, keep a little wind in her lungs," Skiffington said. "She's lightened up off her last race, but she's eating well and seems to have bounced back really well."

Skiffington said Spook Express will be bred next spring, but she could run in the early part of 2002 either in California or Florida. Earlier this year, Spook Express won the Suwannee River and Honey Fox handicaps at Gulfstream.

Skiffington is pleased with Reduit's second-place finish in an allowance race Friday at Aqueduct. He was last through the opening three-quarters of a mile before rallying strongly in the stretch to just miss by a neck to Broadway Snowman.

"Everything went as good as I could have asked it to go, bar winning," Skiffington said.

Red Bullet readies for Cigar Mile

Red Bullet, the 2000 Preakness winner, drilled five furlongs in 1:00.53 Saturday morning over Belmont's training track, his penultimate breeze before the $350,000, Grade 1 Cigar Mile here on Nov. 24.

Trainer Joe Orseno put Smart Zone about 10 lengths in front of Red Bullet, who collared his stablemate by the three-sixteenths pole and drew clear in the stretch under exercise rider Keith Ricks. Belmont clockers caught Red Bullet in fractions of 13.43 seconds, 25.37, 37.61, and timed him galloping six furlongs in 1:13.84 and seven-eighths in 1:28.13.

"I wanted to give him something to look at. He had him in his sights the whole time he ran up to him and came home his last quarter in 23-and-three," Orseno said. "It was what I was looking for. He was still rolling at the end."

Also pointing to the Cigar Mile as of Saturday are: Affirmed Success, Best of the Rest, Figlio Mio, Graeme Hall, Illusioned, Left Bank, Peeping Tom, Volponi, and Yonaguska.