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'Sting' picks boys
ELMONT, N.Y. - Grass champion Perfect Sting will meet males for the first time in her career in Saturday's $400,000 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park, trainer Joe Orseno decided Tuesday.
Orseno had been mulling both the Grade 1 Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles and Saturday's $175,000-added Just a Game Breeders' Cup, a Grade 3 at one mile against her own sex, a race Perfect Sting won last year.
Orseno said the decision was based on the weight assigned Perfect Sting, who is owned by Frank Stronach. In the Just a Game, the 5-year-old Perfect Sting would have packed topweight of 124 pounds. In the Manhattan, she gets a weight concession because of her sex and carries 115 pounds.
"The weight was the decision," Orseno said late Tuesday morning after he conferred with Danny Vella, the farm manager for Stronach's Adena Springs South in Ocala, Fla. "I always said, it had to be perfect conditions to run with the boys; you can't give up any edge at all."
Orseno said Perfect Sting's three-furlong work over the training track Tuesday also helped in the decision. The clockers timed her in 37.04 seconds, breezing, a move described by her trainer as "just stretching her legs."
Jerry Bailey, who rode Perfect Sting to five wins last year, including the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will not ride her in the Manhattan. Bailey often teams with trainer Bill Mott and is committed to pilot the Mott-trained King Cugat in the Manhattan.
Although Orseno said he was not "at all happy" about Bailey's decision to stick with Mott, he said he was pleased that Chris McCarron accepted the mount on Perfect Sting.
"Chris McCarron is an excellent rider and he's the only jock last year to beat her," Orseno said in reference to Perfect Sting's lone defeat in October to Tout Charmant in the WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland.
With Perfect Sting out, some horsemen who were on the fence for the Just a Game are now expected to run. Among the expected starters are License Fee, Penny's Gold, Song for Annie, Fickle Friends, Shopping for Love, Starine, Crystal Sea, Silver Rail,Truebreadpudding, and Doc's Destiny. Orseno said Collect the Cash is possible.
The decision to run Perfect Sting in the Manhattan didn't surprise Mott, who said the weight she was assigned in the Just a Game didn't jibe with her Manhattan assignment.
"I think [Perfect Sting] got a gift in the weights," Mott said. "It only made sense for them to run in this race. The sole purpose of weighting her in the Just a Game was to give an extra [reason] to run in the Manhattan."
Mott's King Cugat is the expected Manhattan starting highweight at 120 pounds. Others expected are Forbidden Apple, Sumitas, Honor Glide, Tijiyr, Cynics Beware, Understood, Boston Party, and Turnofthecentury.
Albert the Great works strongly
Whatever reservations Nick Zito might have had about running Albert the Great in Sunday's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap were alleviated Tuesday morning when the horse turned in a dazzling, five-furlong workout.
With exercise rider Jamie Sanders aboard, Albert the Great sizzled five furlongs in 58.08 seconds while under a snug hold by Sanders. The time was the best of 22 at the distance.
Albert the Great hit the track just after the mid-morning renovation break. Zito had expected Albert the Great to take about one minute to complete his drill. A quarter-mile into the work, he glanced at his stopwatch and said aloud, "What's she doing?" But as Albert the Great drew closer, and Zito could see that Sanders was sitting motionless, his worry melted away.
"Look at him. She's just sitting there," Zito exclaimed. As Albert the Great galloped out, Zito smiled widely and said, "We have no choice now. We have to run."
Albert the Great finished second to Include in the Pimlico Special in his last start. He has won four times in five starts at Belmont Park, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup last October.
"He absolutely loves Belmont Park," Zito said, ticking off the reasons he preferred the Brooklyn to waiting another week for the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. "The timing is better. It's been four weeks since the Pimlico Special. The Stephen Foster is five weeks. Plus that race is going to have Unshaded, who beat Albert in a hard race in the Travers, and Captain Steve, who beat Albert in a hard race in the Donn."
The 1 1/8-mile Brooklyn is also expected to include Gander, Perfect Cat, Pleasant Breeze, and Traditionally.
Queen Carson dies on track
Queen Carson, winner of the Colleen Stakes as a 2-year-old, died of a heart attack at Belmont on Tuesday morning after completing a four-furlong workout in 48.43 seconds over the main track. Queen Carson fell while galloping out around the clubhouse turn.
Queen Carson, a daughter of Lord Carson purchased for $200,000 as a yearling by Padua Stables and trainer D. Wayne Lukas, was coming off a second-level allowance victory here on May 23. She was training toward the Grade 1 Prioress on July 4.
Hero's Tribute likely for Dwyer
Trainer John Ward said that Hero's Tribute, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes on May 26, would most likely make his next start in the $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont on July 8 rather than the $500,000 Swaps at Hollywood Park on July 15.
Ward said he reshod Hero's Tribute with a new Z-bar shoe on Sunday and the colt's troubled left front foot "looks really good." Hero's Tribute won the Peter Pan with the same type of bar shoe, but he broke it off during the running of the race.
Ward said the Dwyer would be used as a prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 5.
Beautiful Pleasure, the champion older mare of 1999, was one of 15 Ward-trained horses that arrived at Belmont on Tuesday, joining Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and Hero's Tribute, who have been here since May 20.
Beautiful Pleasure is being pointed to the June 23 Hempstead, which she won last year.
* The inaugural $65,000 WNBC Stakes will be run Saturday. It's a one-mile race for fillies and mares which have never won a stakes.
- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman