05/27/2003 11:00PM

Volponi back on the track


ELMONT, N.Y. - Jose Santos couldn't help but to try and take a peek.

Positioned at the finish line on Belmont Park's muddy main track, and getting ready to breeze his 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi, Santos attempted to look across the track where his

2003 Triple Crown hopeful, Funny Cide, was getting ready to work under exercise rider and assistant trainer Robin Smullen.

"I wanted to know what was going on," Santos said.

A few minutes later, after pulling Volponi up from a six-furlong move timed in 1:13.51, Santos found himself next to Smullen and Funny Cide. After Smullen told Santos how well she felt Funny Cide worked (he went five furlongs in 59.43 seconds) Santos and Volponi went off the main track through the chute and onto the training track and back to trainer Phil Johnson's barn.

"The good thing about it was I worked Volponi and I saw the footprints of Funny Cide; he's got a pretty good stride that horse," Santos quipped. "I pulled up on the backside right next to him and he looked good to me."

Santos felt the same way about Volponi, who worked just minutes after Funny Cide, preparing for a start in the $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap on June 14. Volponi was timed in splits of 24.34 seconds, 36.50, 49.20, and he galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.36.

"He worked real good," Santos said. "I'm happy with the way both horses worked."

Johnson was also pleased with how Volponi worked, his first move since May 18.

"I like the way he came through the stretch," Johnson said. "[Santos] wasn't pushing on him. He came back well and cooled out well."

Johnson plans two more works for Volponi before the Brooklyn.

"I won't say the Brooklyn will be his best race, but I'd like to run in the Brooklyn," Johnson said.

Affirmed Success back in training

Affirmed Success, the multiple Grade 1 winning 9-year-old gelding, will rejoin trainer Richard Schosberg's Belmont stable next week as he attempts to come back from an ankle injury that threatened to end his career.

"They say he's getting tough up there," said Schosberg, referring to owner Al Fried's Buttonwood Farm where Affirmed Success was sent following a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 12. "We'll get him back in and see if we can find something. His ankles look tight and his back needed some work."

According to Schosberg, Affirmed Success began jogging last week at the farm.

"He gets to the point where you need to get him back to the racetrack to see if he can do what he needs to do," Schosberg said. "He's got to go through the whole training process and everything's got to stay good for him, but so far so good."

Owsley ready for Sheepshead Bay

After a non-productive winter in Florida, and having gotten one race under her belt at Aqueduct, Owsley could be ready for a strong effort in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap for fillies and mares scheduled for 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Owsley, a 5-year-old daughter of Harlan, won three graded stakes in 2002, including the Grade 2 New York Handicap and the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy. She finished last in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but trainer Randy Schulhofer said Owsley was slammed from both sides leaving the starting gate and still was beaten less than nine lengths.

Schulhofer intended to get Owsley started at Gulfstream this winter, but "she didn't do well over that racetrack," he said.

Owsley made her return in the Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct on May 3 and was beaten four lengths by Delta Princess.

"She ran a nice race," Schulhofer said. "It was perhaps too short and she needed the race."

In last year's Sheepshead Bay, Owsley finished fourth, but was beaten only a half-length, after getting trapped inside at a key juncture.

Saturday, Owsley will be the starting co-highweight at 119 pounds along with Lilac Queen, winner of the Bewitch Handicap at Keeneland. Others expected to run include Snow Dance (116), Mariensky (114), New Economy (114), Peanut Gallery (113) and Sunstone (113). Primetimevalentine (113) and Party Queen (112) are listed as possible.

Congrats looks to stretch out

Congrats, whose pedigree screams distance, gets his first opportunity to run beyond seven furlongs Friday when he meets six rivals in a nine-furlong allowance race for horses that have never won three races.

Congrats is out of the mare Praise, who is a half-sister to stakes winners Eastern Echo, Blare of Trumpets, Roar, and Yell. Congrats is 2 for 3 lifetime and comes off a two-length victory in an entry-level allowance race at Aqueduct on May 3.

Congrats should get a good pace to run at with the likes of Wild Years and Hydrogen in the field.

Private City, a sprinter trying to stretch out, and Nothing Flat, who was second in the Grade 2 Dwyer and fourth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup over this track last year, are also contenders in this field.

- Sightseek, winner of the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs in her last start, worked four furlongs in 46.85 seconds over a Belmont training track rated "fast." It was the best of 132 breezes at the distance.

Sightseek is being pointed to the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap here on June 21.

- Carson Hollow, runner-up to Shine Again in the Grade 2 Genuine Risk Handicap on May 11, worked six furlongs in 1:11.81 over an Aqueduct main track labeled "good." Carson Hollow is being pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap on June 8.