04/01/2009 11:00PM

TV crew following 3-year-olds


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A television crew from Kentucky Educational Television was at Aqueduct on Thursday, filming a variety of activity as part of a one-hour documentary scheduled to air on PBS next spring.

The project is headed by Paul Wagner, who in 1985 won an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject for "The Stone Carvers." Wagner is co-producing the racing documentary along with Hallie Gay Walden Bagley, sister of former trainer Elliott Walden, now a vice president of WinStar Farm.

"It's really Thoroughbred 101," Wagner said while crews filmed Imperial Council and his trainer, Shug McGaughey, on the backside. "We're doing everything - breeding, sales, racing."

Wagner said his crew also is following a few 3-year-old prospects, including Imperial Council and I Want Revenge, leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The crew went to Dubai in February and conducted interviews with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Godolphin.

"The main audience for this are people who watch the Kentucky Derby and that's all they know," Wagner said. "Maybe they watch the Preakness if they get excited about the Derby, so it's for people who are not that familiar with the world of racing. What we're trying to do is part the curtain a little bit, invite them in behind the scenes, see how the whole thing happens."

Wagner said the crew will film through the Kentucky Derby and then embark on the long editing process.

"It'll be impossible, but in an hour we're going to explain everything that needs to be explained," Wagner joked.

Wagner said that the plan is put out a DVD with more than one-hour of footage.

Russell to miss some time

Following Saturday's card at Aqueduct, apprentice jockey Sheldon Russell will be out of action for a week or two as he gets a couple of screws taken out of his back. Russell had the screws put in as a result of a spill.

"This will help him dramatically," said Bill Castle, Russell's agent.

Russell, who has been riding for less than a year, enjoyed a very successful winter meet here, winning 35 races - including the Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes - from 325 mounts. He finished seventh in the standings in wins and his purse earnings of $1,331,852 were fifth best.

Russell, who is scheduled to ride Ah Day in Saturday's Grade 1 Carter, could return to ride a few horses at Aqueduct before moving his tack to Delaware when that meet opens at the end of the month.

Pack retires as host of Spa seminar

Legendary racing personality Harvey Pack is retiring as the longtime host of Daily Racing Form's popular Saratoga handicapping seminar, which is ending its 17-year run at Siro's restaurant.

The DRF has entered into a partnership with the New York Racing Association to sponsor and provide analysts for an expanded and reformatted "Talking Horses" during the Saratoga meet.

"Talking Horses, Presented by Daily Racing Form" will be conducted in a live audience format. The show will be expanded from 30 to 45 minutes and begin at 11:45 a.m. each racing day. It will be broadcast from the Carousel Restaurant.

The three-person format will include a NYRA host (Eric Donovan or Jason Blewitt), NYRA co-host Andy Serling, and a DRF handicapper/writer.

Pack, 82, cited family considerations for his decision not to return to Saratoga, though he may make a cameo appearance in early August.

See More Spirit wins Smart Coupons

See More Spirit rallied from just off the pace under Sebastian Morales to win Thursday's $66,500 Smart Coupons Stakes for New York-breds by two lengths. It was the fifth victory from 15 career starts for the 6-year-old gelded son of A.P Jet who is owned by Merrylegs Farm and trained by John Hertler.

See More Spirit tracked the pacesetting Alexandros from third position before coming off the rail and passing him at the eighth pole. See More Spirit covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.14 and returned $6.80 as the favorite.

O'Brien serving suspension

Trainer Leo O'Brien began serving a 15-day suspension Monday after one of his horses tested positive for clenbuterol, a bronchodilator. O'Brien had his suspension reduced from 30 days for waiving his right of appeal.

In addition to the suspension, O'Brien was fined $1,000 for the finding of clenbuterol in the post-race sample of Flying Heat, who finished third in the second race at Aqueduct on Feb. 7.

O'Brien will be eligible to return April 14.

* Aqueduct will be closed Sunday, Palm Sunday, and will reopen for live racing Wednesday.