06/24/2003 11:00PM

Two days of sun and 600 workouts


ELMONT, N.Y. - For the third straight day in New York, no rain fell on Wednesday, and for the second straight day at Belmont Park, trainers took the opportunity to work their horses.

With the exception of horses entered to run on Wednesday or Thursday, and the ones who ran on Sunday, nearly every horse on the backstretch trained on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. On Wednesday alone, 227 horses worked, one day after 425 horses posted recorded workouts.

Donna Ward, the assistant trainer to her husband, John Ward, was one of the legion of trainers who took advantage to stretch out her horses' stiff legs. Leading the pack was Hero's Tribute, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.26 Wednesday in preparation for the 1 1/4-mile Suburban on July 5.

"With the rain and the problems, we didn't want to go to hard with him," Ward said, "and he did what we wanted."

Ward said she clocked Hero's Tribute galloping out in 1:12.60 for six furlongs, 1:30 for a mile, and 1:42.60 for 1 1/8 miles. It was Hero's Tribute's first work since June 10.

Hero's Tribute won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in Florida on March 29 and before that finished second to Harlan's Holiday in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. But in his first start off a brief layoff, Hero's Tribute finished last, beaten 28 1/2 lengths, in the May 15 Pimlico Special, while fighting off a lung infection, Ward said.

The infection has cleared up, and the horse is doing well, according to Ward.

Dynever, Peace Rules show up

Two top 3-year-olds also hit the track on Wednesday, Dynever and Peace Rules, though the two are headed for different races. Dynever went four furlongs in 50.71 seconds, and Peace Rules went four furlongs in 45.44, fastest time at the distance, according to clockers.

Dynever, the winner of the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby on May 10, has not been to the track since finishing a distant fourth in the Belmont Stakes on June 7 as the third choice. Trainer Christophe Clement said that the plan is to work the horse once next week before a start in the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer Stakes on July 6 at Belmont.

"It was a good work, and everything is in good order," Clement said.

Peace Rules is headed to the Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3, setting up a rematch with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Funny Cide, who is also pointing for the race in preparation for the Travers Stakes. Peace Rules finished third in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said that he did not watch Peace Rules work on Wednesday but that the colt was on track for the Haskell.

Pletcher has three for Tremont

Trainer Todd Pletcher had six horses nominated to Saturday's Tremont Stakes, including Chapel Royal, the runaway winner of the Grade 3 Flash Stakes on June 6. On Wednesday, he pared the list down to three, and Chapel Royal was not one of them. Instead, Pletcher will send Limehouse, Heckle, and Korsakoff in the 5 1/2-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds, preferring to give Chapel Royal a six-week rest before coming back in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.

"It's still early in the year, and Chapel Royal has already run twice at Belmont, so that schedule fits a little bit better for him," Pletcher said.

Even without Chapel Royal, Pletcher's hand is still strong. Limehouse won the Three Chimneys Stakes in his last start to run his record to 2 for 2, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 and beating his two more highly regarded stablemates. Heckle, the 1-2 favorite in the Three Chimneys, finished fourth after fading in the stretch while Korsakoff finished sixth.

New challenge for Rhumb Line

By raw numbers, Rhumb Line will come into Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes as the most consistent horse in the somewhat weak field. A 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley, Rhumb Line is 3 for 3 lifetime for trainer Frank Alexander, who won the Mother Goose last year with Nonsuch Bay.

Still, that doesn't mean that Rhumb Line will go to post with the most support. She has yet to break the 90-Beyer mark, she has faced only 16 other horses in her three races - all of which were run on wet tracks - and she has not run farther than one mile. The Mother Goose is 1 1/8 miles around one turn.

Alexander said Wednesday that Rhumb Line might appear to be a bit overmatched in the race, which so far has drawn the interest of only seven horses. But he said it was hard to find fault with a filly who has done everything she has been asked to do. He expects Rhumb Line to relish longer distances, citing her breeding on the maternal side. Rhumb Line is a daughter of Rose Rhapsody, by Pleasant Colony, who was third in the 1981 Belmont Stakes.

"It's probably going to be a pretty tough race for her, but then again, there aren't a whole lot of outstanding horses in there," Alexander said.

If Rhumb Line does well in the Mother Goose, Alexander said he would consider pointing the filly to the second leg of the revamped Triple Tiara, a three-race series that would award a $2 million bonus to any horse who can sweep the Mother Goose, the 1 1/2-mile Coaching Club American Oaks on July 19 at Belmont, and the 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes on Aug. 16 at Saratoga.

But Alexander said the sequence of races makes the series particularly difficult for a 3-year-old filly, especially a late-blooming filly such as Rhumb Line. She made the first start of her career on April 26 at Aqueduct and is still learning.

"I keep telling them that a mile and a half is too far for a 3-year-old filly, especially three weeks after going a mile and an eighth," Alexander said. "It's tough on 3-year-old colts, let alone 3-year-old fillies. And then you have to go 1 1/4 after that. It should be the other way around, with the mile and half race last."

Also expected in the Mother Goose are Final Round, Roar Emotion, Spoken Fur, and Yell. Possibles include Holiday Lady and Virgin Voyage.