06/22/2004 11:00PM

Strong Hope might just wait

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher has nominated five horses to the Grade 2, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap on July 4 but is expected to run only Lion Tamer in that seven-furlong race. Strong Hope, who was under consideration for the Tom Fool, may simply train up to the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

Strong Hope, who finished third as the favorite in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 31, is missing only a Grade 1 win from his resume. Given his explosive allowance win at Gulfstream off a seven-month layoff in March, Pletcher may try Strong Hope in the Forego off a three-month layoff.

"We want him to run his best race on Sept. 4," Pletcher said. "We'll sort it out as we go along and figure out if we want to run him before then."

If Pletcher opts to run Strong Hope before the Forego, that race would most likely be the Grade 2, $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at the Spa on Aug. 14.

Meanwhile, Pletcher is gearing up his bevy of 3-year-olds for upcoming stakes assignments. Pollard's Vision, who finished second in the Ohio Derby, will point to the Grade 3, $250,000 Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park on July 18, and Shaniko, who finished 11th in the Northern Dancer Stakes, is being pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes here July 11. Limehouse, sixth in Ohio, is also possible for the Dwyer.

Pletcher said Shaniko's performance in the Northern Dancer is a throw-out because of the sloppy track.

"He's a good one-turn horse, and the fact he was second to Offlee Wild looks better now," Pletcher said.

On May 14, Shaniko finished second to Offlee Wild in an allowance race. Offlee Wild came back to win the Massachusetts Handicap last weekend.

Purge, the Peter Pan winner who finished last in the Belmont Stakes, is on schedule for either the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park or the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Both races are Aug. 8. Pletcher said Purge is galloping daily at Saratoga and may begin breezing Sunday.

Gygistar may stay routing

Trainer Mark Hennig said he was pleased with Gygistar's fourth-place finish in the Massachusetts Handicap and said he plans to keep him in route races. The Mass Cap, in which Gygistar was beaten just two lengths, was Gygistar's first race around two turns.

"He ran very well," Hennig said. "Being a gelding, he may last a bit longer going long. The longer races don't seem as strenuous."

Hennig did not rule out the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 7 for Gygistar. Gygistar is 2 for 3 at Saratoga, including a win in the Grade 1 King's Bishop as a 3-year-old.

Hennig said Eddington, who finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes, could run next in either the Haskell, Jim Dandy or West Virginia Derby. The $600,000 West Virginia Derby is run Aug. 7.

Miss Coronado a maybe

Miss Coronado worked at Belmont on Wednesday for a possible start in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose. She covered a half-mile in 48.21 seconds over the main track. The Belmont clockers caught Miss Coronado galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.40.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said Miss Coronado recently popped a splint, and he wanted to see how she was on entry day, Thursday, before committing her to run.

"We'll see how she is," Frankel said. "It sounds weird, but she seems to be doing better with the splint."

If she runs in the Mother Goose, Miss Coronado, who won the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park in February, will be ridden by Jose Santos.

The confirmed starters for the Mother Goose, with riders, are, Ashado (John Velazquez); Daydreaming (Jerry Bailey); Island Sand (Terry Thompson); Society Selection (Edgar Prado); and Stellar Jayne (Robbie Albarado).

Rodeo Licious back in sprint

Rodeo Licious will try to rebound from a terrible performance as the favorite in the ungraded Revidere Stakes at Monmouth on June 12 when she runs in the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies on July 3.

On Wednesday, Rodeo Licious worked a half-mile in 48.10 seconds over Belmont's training track.

Rodeo Licious, who is undefeated in three starts at Belmont, including two stakes, was eased in the Revidere after getting involved in a speed duel. A one-mile race, the Revidere was Rodeo Licious's first start around two turns and her first race beyond seven furlongs. She finished last in the five-horse field and was beaten 30 lengths.

Levine said Mike Luzzi, who was aboard Rodeo Licious, eased up on her when she threw in the towel.

"We think sprinting is her thing, and she has won two stakes at Belmont, so we'll take a shot in our own backyard," Levine said. "She worked well [Wednesday], and she really isn't a good work horse."

Last year, Rodeo Licious won the ungraded Fashion Stakes at Belmont. Before running in the Revidere, she won the restricted Bouwerie Stakes.

'Max' looks ready for Tom Fool

Levine is also preparing Unforgettable Max for a start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap.

On Sunday at Belmont, Unforgettable Max worked five furlongs in 59.02, handily. It was the fastest of 41 works at the distance.

"I tell you, he's the best horse I have in the barn," said Levine, who trains Unforgettable Max for Raymond Dweck.

In his last start, Unforgettable Max finished first by 2 1/2 lengths in the Frisk Me Now Stakes Monmouth on May 30 but was disqualified for interference and placed last in the five-horse field.

"It was the worst disqualification ever," Levine said. "I'm not a steward, but I had people calling me and telling me how bad of a decision it was."

The Frisk Me Now was run at a mile around two turns. The Tom Fool is a seven-furlong race.

"I think he wants seven [furlongs] or a mile," Levine said. "The other day when he ran, it was a fast race and they ran a fast split. I feel good about him going seven-eighths."

* After going 22 for 63 from June 5 through the seventh race on June 17, jockey John Velazquez is just 1 for his last 30. That win came in Wednesday's opener aboard Mahzouz ($4.20).

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson