05/31/2003 12:00AM

Stakes works aplenty


ELMONT, N.Y. - With a fast main track and the threat of rain prompting management to open the inner turf course a day earlier than usual, many of the best horses on the grounds - including some of the favorites for Belmont Week stakes races - turned in workouts Saturday morning at Belmont Park.

In addition to Belmont Stakes contenders Empire Maker and Dynever, notables such as Harlan's Holiday, Evening Attire, Midas Eyes, Heat Haze, and Wonder Again worked Saturday morning.

Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Donn Handicap and runner-up in the Dubai World Cup, was credited with a six-furlong move in 1:13.05 as he prepares for the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap June 14. Harlan's Holiday worked in company with Strong Hope, a 3-year-old entry-level allowance winner who is nominated to Saturday's Riva Ridge. Harlan's Holiday, under regular rider John Velazquez, started about 1 1/2 lengths behind Strong Hope and finished on even terms with his workmate.

Pletcher said he has been really pleased with how well Harlan's Holiday has rebounded from his trip to Dubai.

"We'll know more when we run him, but so far he's done exceptionally well," Pletcher said. "At this point, I don't think it's taken anything out of him."

Pletcher said he would work Harlan's Holiday one more time before the Brooklyn, which is also expected to attract Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi.

Pletcher also worked Chapel Royal, a 2-year-old maiden winner who is being pointed to Friday's $100,000 Flash Stakes. Chapel Royal, a son of Montbrook who cost $1.2 million at auction, worked five furlongs in 1:01.02 in company with Savoy Special, the duo getting their last three furlongs in 36.06 seconds.

Evening Attire, who has not raced since winning the off-the-turf Red Smith Handicap last November, worked five furlongs in 1:05 over a yielding turf course. Evening Attire is nominated to Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, but Kelly said the horse would only run in the unlikely event the race was moved to the main track.

"Not that we want to jinx the Belmont, but it's been a real rainy spring and according to [the forecast] there's not a whole lot of relief in sight," Kelly said. "The chances of them taking a Grade 1 off the turf are pretty slim. I'll nominate to the Brooklyn, but I don't know if he'd run there."

Evening Attire won last year's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Wonder Again, a Grade 1 winner on turf last year, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.02 over the yielding turf. Wonder Again will be among the favorites for Saturday's Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In that race she will face Heat Haze, winner of the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs May 3. Heat Haze, trained by Bobby Frankel, worked five furlongs on dirt in 1:00.36.

Midas Eyes, winner of the Derby Trial and Swale Stakes, worked six furlongs in 1:12.84 under jockey Jerry Bailey. Midas Eyes figures to be heavily favored in the Riva Ridge.