06/29/2006 11:00PM

Strong Contender's chance to shine

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If Strong Contender runs well in Tuesday's Dwyer, he may go to the West Virginia Derby.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Strong Contender will be vying for a spot in trainer John Ward's 3-year-old batting order when he runs in Tuesday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.

Though Ward has said he believes Dr. Pleasure will ultimately be his best 3-year-old, recent results suggest otherwise. On June 22, Minister's Bid won a first-level allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths, his second victory in as many starts. He ran one mile in 1:36.77 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

Ward said that Minister's Bid may have earned himself a spot in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 6.

"He's a Haskell horse if there ever was a Haskell horse," Ward said. "That pure speed and [ability] to sit there and be ready to go."

On Wednesday, Dr. Pleasure finished third in a first-level allowance race, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Sir Halory. Despite the loss, Ward was quite pleased with the race.

"Dr. Pleasure's race did not bother me," Ward said. "Two good 4-year-olds beat him. He's a horse looking for a style. If he was running against straight 3-year-olds where they run [six furlongs] in 1:09-and-3 in front of him, the 3-year-olds would have folded up and went south."

Ward said he would have no problem running Dr. Pleasure back in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29.

Meanwhile, Strong Contender will seek to earn a spot in a rich 3-year-old stakes - perhaps the $750,000 West Virginia Derby - when he runs in the Dwyer. Strong Contender is coming out of a third-place finish in the Peter Pan. Ward said jockey Mike Smith told him he didn't handle the dry track in that race.

In the Dwyer, Strong Contender will be reunited with Edgar Prado, who rode him to victory in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park in February and a third-place finish in the Blue Grass. Prado was aboard for Strong Contender's five-furlong workout on Friday, which clockers timed in 1:01.11 after an opening quarter of 25.60.

"Prado said he's dead fit," Ward said. "Can't do any more than I've done."

Strong Contender is expected to meet five rivals in the Dwyer: Da Stoops, Doc Cheney, Dontfearthereaper, Keyed Entry, and Regent Spirit.

Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed on Friday that Keyed Entry would scratch out of Saturday's Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park to run in the Dwyer.

Artie Schiller may run in Delaware

Artie Schiller, the defending Breeders' Cup Mile winner, worked six furlongs in 1:16.06 Friday morning over the Belmont training track. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is considering running Artie Schiller in the $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at Delaware Park on July 16.

Jerkens said Artie Schiller's next workout would determine whether he goes to Delaware.

Artie Schiller is winless in two starts this year, but Jerkens said he was not necessarily looking for an easy spot for the horse's next race.

"Nothing's easy," he said. "As great as he's been, I'd never say he's won any of his races easily. It's certainly not easy shipping to Delaware in that heat. The Bernard Baruch is a month after that, so he should be able to make both races."

The Grade 2, $200,000 Bernard Baruch is scheduled for Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

Jerkens was disappointed in Artie Schiller's narrow loss to Better Talk Now in the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

"The way he sped away from that horse, I couldn't believe he didn't hang on," Jerkens said.

Meanwhile, Jerkens said that Smokey Glacken, who finished fifth in the Vagrancy, remains on schedule to run in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder on July 15.

Short field for Genuine Risk

California shipper Behaving Badly figures to face only four rivals in Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 Genuine Risk Breeders' Cup Handicap. The speedy New York-bred daughter of Pioneering arrived in New York on Thursday. She has won 7 of 10 starts and is coming off a one-length loss to stablemate Pussycat Doll in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs.

Behaving Badly, trained by Bob Baffert, will be the starting highweight at 121 pounds. It is expected she will meet Ever Elusive (116), Stormy Kiss (114), and the 3-year-olds Khalila (110) and Swap Fliparoo (110).

The Green Monkey back on track

After a one-month period between works, The Green Monkey, who sold for $16 million at the Fasig-Tipton February sale of 2-year-olds in training, is back on a regular schedule.

Friday, The Green Monkey worked four furlongs in 48.11 seconds in company with the 3-year-old filly Tiffany Touch, who was credited with the same time. Angel Cordero Jr. was aboard The Green Monkey.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was pleased with the work, but said The Green Monkey is unlikely to start before the Saratoga meet, which begins on July 26.

The Green Monkey worked three times from May 14 to May 28. But then he didn't show up on the work tab again until June 23, when he went three furlongs in 38.10 seconds.

"We kind of got screwed up weather-wise," Pletcher said. "We weren't able to work on a steady schedule. We're not in such a rush where we're going to breeze him on wet tracks. We got some gate work done in some situations when we did have a fast track. We're ahead of schedule at the gate, we just got a little behind schedule in his works."

* With Belmont conducting racing on Monday and Tuesday, there will be no racing on Wednesday and Thursday next week. Entries for Friday will be taken on Monday, and entries for Saturday will be taken on Tuesday.