07/16/2001 11:00PM

Starrer crosses country for big score

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ELMONT, N.Y. - California-based trainer David Hofmans has come to New York in search of a Grade 1 victory for the filly Starrer in Saturday's $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on closing weekend at Belmont Park.

Starrer, the winner of the Grade 2 Princess in June at Hollywood Park, arrived at Belmont last week and worked for the first time over the main track Monday. Starrer's five-furlong work in 1:00.10, handily, was the second-fastest move at the distance on Monday's work tab.

Neither the Acorn winner, Forest Secrets, nor the Mother Goose winner, Fleet Renee, are expected to start in the CCA Oaks, in which 3-year-old fillies are faced with the arduous task of getting 1 1/2 miles.

Hofmans could have stayed home and run Starrer, a daughter of Dynaformer, in a soft spot in last weekend's $150,000 Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks at 1 1/8 miles. Instead, Hofmans opted for the bigger bucks and the longer distance of the CCA Oaks, in which his filly likely will be the favorite.

"One reason was the Grade 1 and the $350,000," said Hofmans, who trains Starrer for George Krikorian. "The other was the distance. This filly wants to run long and I thought the distance would suit her. [The Hollywood Oaks] was a good race, but this race is very prestigious."

In her first start at two turns, Starrer won the Princess by 1 1/2 lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.90.

"Her last race was her best. It's the farthest she has run, and it was a very fast race, and she did it easily," Hofmans said. "She does her best running right off the pace. I like to see her stalking - laying in third or fourth."

Chris McCarron, aboard in the Princess, has the mount.

Also expected in the CCA Oaks are Exogenous, Majority Whip, Tap Dance, Ten Flags, Tweedside, and Unbridled Lassie.

Gander pointed to Arlington race

On Tuesday, trainer John Terranova was weighing his options with Gander, last year's New York-bred Horse of the Year.

Gander is nominated to Sunday's $75,000-added Evan Shipman at Belmont, where he would be a heavy favorite to successfully defend his title against New York-breds, and to the $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on July 28, where he would have to face powerhouse Albert the Great.

But it looks like Terranova may pass both those spots in favor of Saturday's $400,000 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington, where Gander would carry 115 pounds, one less than the expected favorite and starting highweight, Guided Tour.

Terranova said Gander is booked on a Tex Sutton flight from Albany on Thursday.

"Right now we're pointing for the Chicago race," Terranova said. "I figure he's doing really well and that race doesn't seem extraordinarily tough.

"I'll think more about the Whitney," Terranova added. "It would be nice to run in the Evan Shipman, but we're still high on him and think he can compete with nice horses. He's getting close to $1 million [in earnings]."

Aaron Gryder has the mount on Gander in the Washington Park.

On Monday, Gander worked five furlongs in 1:00.25, breezing, at Belmont.

Thunder Blitz to West Virginia

Trainer Joe Orseno said Milwaukee Brew is scheduled to fly to Chicago for the Washington Park from John F. Kennedy Airport on Wednesday.

Orseno also reported Thunder Blitz came out of his third in Sunday's $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup at Monmouth in good order and would be pointed to the $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 11.

"He chased the speed and was closer than he likes and didn't have the finishing kick he usually does," Orseno said.

Orseno worked Macho Uno and Red Bullet Tuesday, but said he still hasn't picked out races for their return, although he anticipates it will be sometime in August.

Orseno said he provided Macho Uno with company so the colt had a target to run down in his five-furlong work over the main track, which was accomplished in 1:00.66, breezing. Red Bullet worked six furlongs on the training track in 1:13.54.

* Jockey Mike Luzzi, who fractured a bone above his ankle in a starting gate mishap Sunday, is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday at North Shore University Hospital.