10/13/2003 11:00PM

Sprint plan B for Congaree

Pleasantly Perfect turned in a five-furlong workout Tuesday that was two seconds faster than trainer Richard Mandella would have liked.

ARCADIA, Calif. - There was concern over the training of two Breeders' Cup Classic candidates Tuesday at Santa Anita after a crack was discovered in a hind hoof of Congaree and Pleasantly Perfect blazed five furlongs in a workout nearly two seconds faster than planned.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Congaree missed two days of training and has been pre-entered in the Sprint as well as the Classic "as insurance if the foot would aggravate him.''

The deadline for pre-entries to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships was noon Tuesday, but lists of all pre-entered horses will not be announced until Thursday. Final fields for the Cup, which will be held on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, will be drawn Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Congaree is a winner of 4 of 7 races this year, including the Hollywood Gold Cup. "Right now, it looks good for the Classic," Baffert said of Congaree. "He's fit."

Baffert said that Congaree emerged from a weekend gallop with a crack in a "not-so-bad area" of the hoof and that the horse walked for two days. "He's happy," Baffert said. "He's not sore on it or anything."

Baffert said he expected Congaree to return to the track Wednesday and to work later this week.

"If he goes back to the track [Wednesday], we're in good shape," Baffert said.

Meanwhile, trainer Richard Mandella was worried that Pleasantly Perfect might have given up his home-field advantage after a scorching five-furlong move.

Pleasantly Perfect worked in company with Olmodavor. The workout was designed to re-energize Pleasantly Perfect, a 5-year-old, who instead wound up leaving a lot of energy out on the track.

Pleasantly Perfect has raced just once since March and has been on a tight schedule to make the Breeders' Cup. He won the Goodwood Handicap here Oct. 4 and is the only BC Classic candidate with a recent win over the Santa Anita track.

"Too fast," trainer Richard Mandella said with displeasure moments after he timed Pleasantly Perfect in 58.20 seconds (clockers gave him 58.60) - the second fastest on the work tab. Mandella was looking for a time of about a minute.

By late Tuesday morning, Mandella said Pleasantly Perfect had come out of the workout in good shape. "I just don't want to drain the tank," Mandella said. "I want to fill it back up. He's a big, strapping horse. He can take a little bit.

"Generally, it's a better problem having one that goes too fast than one that can't."

In other Breeders' Cup Classic developments, the filly Azeri was pre-entered in both the Classic and the Distaff, according to trainer Laura de Seroux.

De Seroux said that owner Michael Paulson "said to put her in the Distaff but have the Classic as a second choice."

Fleetstreet Dancer, the Goodwood runner-up, was not pre-entered in the Classic, according to owner Ty Leatherman and trainer Doug O'Neill. "As a business decision, we felt this wasn't the smartest decision to make," Leatherman said.

Mineshaft, Empire Maker, and Candy Ride are out, but the probable Classic lineup includes Grade 1 winners Funny Cide, Ten Most Wanted, Perfect Drift, Congaree, Medaglia d'Oro, and Volponi.

At Belmont Park on Tuesday, defending Classic winner Volponi breezed a strong half-mile in 47.34 seconds over the training track. Jockey Jose Santos was up for the move, which clockers timed in fractions of 11.86 seconds and 23.83. Clockers caught him galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.16 and pulling up six furlongs in 1:14.62.

"I really liked the way he worked,'' Santos said before catching a flight to Florida to visit his family. "He picked up his head at the top of the stretch and when I called on him he really finished good, with plenty left, and galloped out great. I think he's going in the right direction."

Trainer Phil Johnson moved the work from the main track to the training track because he thought the training track was in better condition. The training track was labeled fast, but Santos said it did have some moisture in it.

Volponi, who has not won since upsetting the Classic last year, will most likely work again on Monday or Tuesday and then ship to California on Wednesday.

On the fast main track at Belmont, Dynever worked four furlongs in 48.60 seconds and was caught galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.40. Track clockers timed Dynever's first quarter in 24.60 seconds and his last quarter in 24 seconds.

Trainer Christophe Clement said he was looking for a half-mile in 49 seconds, but was thrilled with the ease in which Dynever accomplished the work.

"He came back in great shape. I'm excited about the race,'' said Clement, who will have Corey Nakatani riding in the Classic.

Dynever has not won since taking the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in May. Since then, he has finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes, second in the West Virginia Derby, sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby, and second in the Meadowlands Cup. The Belmont and Pennsylvania Derby were contested over wet tracks, a surface Clement said his horse has proven he hates.

- additional reporting by David Grening