03/29/2007 11:00PM

Summer Doldrums's work reignites Derby hopes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After watching Summer Doldrums breeze a sharp five furlongs Friday morning at Aqueduct, trainer Rick Violette is confident his 3-year-old can rebound from a disappointing performance in last month's Gotham Stakes and get back on the Kentucky Derby trail.

What Violette is less sure about, however, is where he wants that attempted resurrection to take place. Violette is torn between keeping Summer Doldrums home and running in next Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct or shipping him to Hawthorne for the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby the same day.

The Wood is expected to have only a six-horse field due to the presence of top Kentucky Derby candidates Circular Quay and Nobiz Like Shobiz, while the Illinois Derby boasts San Felipe winner Cobalt Blue and Gotham winner Cowtown Cat among its top prospects.

"We don't need to run his lifetime best this Saturday and be going the wrong way going into the Derby," said Violette, who noted that the Illinois Derby is "a half-million dollar purse out there."

"Part of this is a business, too, and [you] put your horses in the worst company to make as much money as you can," he said.

Summer Doldrums will need to make some money to assure himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. Summer Doldrums has only $21,334 in graded stakes earnings and would likely need a top-three finish in either the Wood or the Illinois Derby to get into the Kentucky Derby if the field, as expected, draws more than 20 entrants.

Summer Doldrums emerged as a Kentucky Derby prospect with a solid first-level allowance win over the inner track on Jan. 12 followed by a 5 1/4-length victory in the Whirlaway Stakes on Feb. 10. He suffered a setback in the Gotham, finishing third behind Cowtown Cat and coming out of the race with mucus in his lungs.

Friday was Summer Doldrums's second solid workout since the Gotham. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan put Summer Doldrums through a five-furlong move timed in 59.83 seconds. Summer Doldrums worked in company with Take the Bluff, who was timed in 1:00.77. Violette said he used Take the Bluff as a workmate to make sure Summer Doldrums got into his work. Summer Doldrums left Take the Bluff in the final furlong and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60.

"This is a really good breeze," Violette said. "I needed to do this, but we've got a week for him to bounce back. I'm very comfortable with where we are.''

Violette said Mike Luzzi would ride Summer Doldrums in whichever race he runs. Entries for the Wood will be taken Wednesday while the Illinois Derby will not be drawn until Thursday.

In addition to Circular Quay and Nobiz Like Shobiz, others expected to run in the Wood are Flashstorm, Reptilian Smarts, and Sightseeing. David Flores has picked up the mount on Reptilian Smarts.

Coa wins riding title

Eibar Coa rode three winners on Friday's card to clinch the inner-track riding title over Ramon Dominguez. Through Friday's races, Coa led Dominguez, 101-100. Dominguez was scheduled to ride at Gulfstream on Saturday and will miss the final day of the inner-track season.

Coa began the afternoon one win behind Dominguez and fell two behind when Dominguez won the opener with Scuttlebutt ($7.60). But Coa won the second with Greg's Lassy ($3.30), the fourth with Stunt Man ($4.80) and the seventh with Dodgem ($14.20).

Last year, Coa won the inner track title, 105-100, over Dominguez.

NYRA negotiating for parking space

The New York Racing Association is in negotiations with the Port Authority to lease back 1,500 parking spots in the clubhouse parking lot at Aqueduct. Final contracts have not been signed, but NYRA officials are hopeful something could be worked out this week.

The deal would allow NYRA to gain back more than 2,000 spots for the fall meet. Also, the Aqueduct flea market was set to reopen this weekend and will remain open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays. The two exceptions will be next Saturday (Wood Memorial Day) and Breeders' Cup Day (Oct. 27).