08/21/2005 11:00PM

Travers preparation coming to the wire

Flower Alley and rider Angel Cordero Jr. go out for a breeze Monday at Saratoga. Flower Alley was timed in 1:00.22 for five furlongs.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - While the connections of Bellamy Road debate whether to run in the Travers or King's Bishop on Saturday, four of his would-be challengers in the $1 million Travers put in their final workouts Sunday and Monday.

Roman Ruler, the Haskell winner; Flower Alley, the Jim Dandy winner; and Reverberate, the Jim Dandy runner-up, all were on the track at the same time on a busy Monday morning under ideal conditions.

Roman Ruler, the likely Travers favorite, worked five furlongs in a strong 59.24 seconds with exercise rider Dana Barnes in the irons. Trainer Bob Baffert, who was in California, was on the phone with jockey Jerry Bailey, who was standing next to trainer John Terranova, who was clocking the work and relaying instructions via walkie-talkie to Barnes. After Roman Ruler went a quick opening quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds, Terranova told Barnes to go easy.

Barnes grabbed hold of Roman Ruler, who wound up getting his last three furlongs in 35.62 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.01.

"That's where he likes to make his move, around the turn, and when he switched leads he took a hold of the bit," Barnes said. "He was strong, not out of control. He worked pretty fast last week, so we didn't want to do that again. He did it as easy as he could do it."

Since overcoming foot problems that forced him to miss the Triple Crown series, Roman Ruler has won the Grade 2 Dwyer and Grade 1 Haskell.

"He keeps getting better," Barnes said. "The confidence of winning those races has really pepped him up."

Shortly after Roman Ruler worked, Flower Alley, with Angel Cordero Jr. up, breezed five furlongs in company with the New York-bred stakes winner West Virginia. The duo picked up some company early in the work as a horse who broke out of the gate came up to their inside. They had to go around the tiring worker on the turn, and Flower Alley came a bit wide in the stretch. Flower Alley was timed in 1:00.22.

Cordero was pleased with the move and is confident in Flower Alley's chances on Saturday.

"Since he ran in the Dwyer he started getting better and better," said Cordero, who worked the horse for trainer Todd Pletcher. "When he won the Jim Dandy, he was doing good. He's doing better now.''

Reverberate, working under Jose Santos, went an easy half-mile in 48.56 seconds. It was the third straight week that Santos was on Reverberate.

"He's been working real nice and easy and been galloping out real good," Santos said. "I'm very happy the way he is right now."

On Sunday, trainer Nick Zito created a pair of mini-races for both Bellamy Road and Andromeda's Hero, who worked over a muddy main track. Bellamy Road, under Maxine Correa, came a bit wide going around stablemates Chief Commander and Go Now in working five furlongs in 59.89 seconds.

Zito said choosing between the 1 1/4-mile Travers or a date against the undefeated Lost in the Fog in the seven-furlong King's Bishop is not easy. A decision has to be made by Wednesday, when entries for both races will be taken.

"Either race is very, very tough," Zito said. "Let me just think about it for a couple of days. I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing."

Andromeda's Hero, wearing blinkers, closed very well in the stretch as he went past stablemates Confirmed and Indy Storm. Andromeda's Hero was clocked in 1:00.86. Zito said Andromeda's Hero, second in the Belmont Stakes, would wear blinkers for the first time in a race in the Travers.

Chekhov was scheduled to have an open gallop or blowout work on Tuesday morning. Don't Get Mad, who worked a mile last Friday at Santa Anita, is scheduled to ship here on Wednesday.