08/23/2001 11:00PM

Stevens and Espinoza to ride Belmont meet


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Gary Stevens and Victor Espinoza, two of California's top jockeys, are headed east for the fall and will ride the Belmont Park meet, which begins on Sept. 7.

The major reason they will ride in New York is that Belmont Park hosts the World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 27. The fall meet is attracting several quality out-of-town outfits including California-based trainers Neil Drysdale and Bobby Frankel.

"I've been criss-crossing the country so much this summer already during Del Mar and it looked like the same thing was more or less going to happen this fall," said Stevens, who was in Saratoga this weekend to ride Point Given in Saturday's Travers. "Mr. Drysdale is taking 20 horses back to Belmont; we got a lot of horses with some conditions."

Stevens, the regular rider of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Point Given, has already picked up the mount on Red Bullet for the $500,000 Woodward Stakes on Sept. 8. Stevens will miss some days at Belmont because of outside commitments. He will be the best man at former trainer Alex Hassinger's wedding on Sept. 22 and will miss three days immediately thereafter to ride in a competition in Japan.

In 1995, the last time the Breeders' Cup was held at Belmont, Stevens spent the fall in New York. He finished as the seventh leading rider with 25 wins from 130 mounts (19 percent).

The presence of Stevens in New York means he will be going up daily against Jerry Bailey, regarded as the best rider on the East Coast.

"Jerry and I are very close friends. It's a friendly rivalry," Stevens said. "He's got his business with Billy [Mott], I got my people that I ride for. I'm not really looking at it as any kind or rivalry, I'm just looking to enjoy the fall, enjoy the good racing."

Bailey and Stevens have combined to win five of the last six Eclipse Awards for the nation's leading rider.

"He's always a good addition," Bailey said. "I've always said I'd rather ride with good riders. The more of them the better."

In California, agent Tony Matos represents both Stevens and Espinoza. Under New York Racing Association rules, agents are permitted to represent only one journeyman and one apprentice rider. The New York stewards are reviewing that rule and a decision regarding a change should be made by the end of this meet.

Truebreadpudding doubtful for Yaddo

Truebreadpudding, who has won the last two runnings of the Yaddo Handicap, has a bruised right front foot and is doubtful for Monday's 22nd renewal of the race for New York-bred fillies and mares on turf.

Truebreadpudding has been training with an aluminum pad, according to trainer Gary Sciacca, but the bruise "still seems to be bothering her a little bit," Sciacca said.

Sciacca said his blacksmith was coming to Saratoga on Saturday to take the pad off and examine the foot.

"I hate to miss it," Sciacca said. "It would have been three in a row. She was doing real well."

With Truebreadpudding likely out and with Shopping for Love expected to run in the Diana, the Yaddo figures to be a wide-open event. Among those expected are Pearly White, Polly Jo, Rhum, Bay Dragon, I Met Somebody, Longingtobeme, Wootie, Escorp, and Ransom's Pride.

Alannan sharp in Forego drill

Alannan, a multiple graded stakes winner this spring, drilled five furlongs in 59.25 seconds over Saratoga's main track on Friday in preparation for the Grade 1 Forego Handicap on Sept. 1. The work, under Shaun Bridgmohan, was the fastest of 29 works at the distance.

Alannan won the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Handicap at Keeneland and the Churchill Downs Handicap in the spring. After a third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and a second in the Grade 3 Aristides, Alannan was given a freshening.

"He ran hard this year, he needed to be freshened," trainer Carl Nafzger said. "Hopefully, he'll run well then we'll go on to the fall."

Although Bridgmohan worked the horse, Edgar Prado will be aboard in the Forego. Others expected to run in that 6 1/2-furlong race are Big E E, Bonapaw, Ceeband, Delaware Township, Grangeville, Hook and Ladder, Left Bank, Say Florida Sandy, and Valiant Halory.

Jump Start, Heavyweight Champ in rematch?

Jump Start and Heavyweight Champ, the one-two finishers in the Saratoga Special, may meet again in the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 1.

On Friday, Jump Start worked five furlongs in 1:01.45 over the Oklahoma training track. On the main track, Heavyweight Champ breezed four furlongs in 50.15 seconds.

While Jump Start is considered a definite for the race, Heavyweight Champ is only considered a possible starter. Trainer John Terranova is also considering skipping the Hopeful and pointing for the Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 16.

"I could run him if I wanted to," Terranova said of the Hopeful. "I just don't know if it's the right spot and I'm not sure if I want to stretch him out to a mile. He's been absolutely perfect. He came out of the last race great."

Others expected for the Hopeful are Came Home, Essence of Dubai, Mayakovsky, Proud Citizen, Roman Dancer, Thunder Days, and Wild Navigator.

Mott maps out schedules for turf stars

Hap, the second-place finisher in the Arlington Million, will be pointed to the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 15, trainer Bill Mott said Friday. Meanwhile, Mott plans to run King Cugat in either the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 29 or the $1.5 million Canadian International at Woodbine on Sept. 30.

Hap's second-place finish in the Arlington Million showed Mott that his horse "will keep trying at a mile and a quarter and that he really doesn't like soft ground." The Million was run over a yielding turf course.

Meanwhile, Mott said he would probably keep King Cugat out of the Man o' War on Sept. 8 because "it seems like it's happening too fast."

Trouble in NYRA city

Friday was not a good day for the New York Racing Association. The NYRA had to refund nearly $1 million on wagers after favorites in two races were scratched at the gate.

Making matters worse was the fact the tote board showed the wrong odds for three races, infuriating bettors.

The tote began to malfunction in the second race when Key on Richie was scratched at the gate. His 6-5 odds remained on the board during the running of the race and after the race, which made the odds for the horses higher than they actually were.

The wrong odds were on the board for the fourth race and again in the fifth when post-time favorite Seagrapes was scratched at the gate.

o Jockey Jerry Bailey was fined $500 by the stewards for a display of temper following the running of the eighth race on Thursday.