08/01/2001 11:00PM

Volponi figures into Travers scenario


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes will help define the field for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 25, but the Travers already has one potential starter in Volponi, who crushed an entry-level allowance field on Monday while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

Volponi, a Cryptoclearance colt who was bred, and is co-owned and trained by Hall of Famer P.G. Johnson, drew away powerfully to win Monday's ninth race by 13 1/2 lengths in 1:48.41 for 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track.

Johnson said on Thursday that he moved Volponi to the dirt, and added blinkers, because "he ran some good turf races, but he wasn't having any luck.

"So we changed everything - put on a pair of blinkers, put him on dirt." Volponi's only previous victory had come in last fall's Pilgrim Stakes on the turf.

"It's safe to say that he didn't have a lot to beat," Johnson said, "and if he didn't win we'd have had a problem. But he's a nice horse. He's a big, growthy colt. The older he gets, the better he should get."

Johnson said Volponi's participation in the Travers will likely hinge on results of this weekend's races - including the $1.5 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park - which feature 3-year-old division leaders Congaree and Point Given.

"I'm not against running in the Travers, as long as he comes up to it good, and he doesn't have to run against those two," Johnson said.

Volponi went back to the track to gallop on Thursday morning after getting two days off to walk around the shed row.

Dollar Bill, E Dubai wait for Travers

Saying his horse was not ready to run, trainer Dallas Stewart elected not to enter Dollar Bill in Saturday's Jim Dandy and instead will wait for the Travers.

"We just need a couple of more works," Stewart said. "I can't just take him over there and just run him and just hope for the best. If he's ready he'll show up. Hopefully, he'll be ready for the Travers."

Dollar Bill, who ran in all three Triple Crown races, has had three workouts since his fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Stewart said he needs "two or three more solid works. And they need to be solid to go into" the Travers.

E Dubai, winner of the Dwyer Stakes last out, was another whose connections thought it best to sit out the Jim Dandy and train up to the Travers.

"The reason we passed the Jim Dandy is we did not want to take a chance to run the horse twice in 20 days," said Laurent Barbarin, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "He's a horse that needs a rest in between races."

On Thursday, E Dubai breezed five furlongs in 1:00.25 over Saratoga's main track.

Trippi will skip Vanderbilt

Trainer Todd Pletcher had hoped to run Trippi in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Vanderbilt Handicap for older sprinters, but he was not quite satisfied with Trippi's workout here on Wednesday, so Pletcher instead will wait with Trippi and run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego Handicap on Sept. 1.

"He worked well, but he got a little tired at the end," Pletcher said. Trippi breezed five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, equaling the best time at the distance.

"He had missed some time, first with a quarter crack, and then he grabbed himself," Pletcher added, referring to a horse's overreaching with a hind foot and cutting part of a front foot. Trippi was first injured when he finished sixth of 10 in the Metropolitan Handicap on May 28. He has lost four straight since winning last fall's Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Saratoga.

"We're probably not going to have anything in that race," Pletcher said of the Vanderbilt. "The only one under consideration is Texas Glitter, if the forecast is for rain."

Texas Glitter has a win and a second in two starts on off tracks. He most recently captured the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap on July 14. If Texas Glitter goes, Aaron Gryder will have the mount.

Another top sprinter from Pletcher's barn, Left Bank, is being pointed for a classified allowance race here, Pletcher said. Left Bank, who worked in company with Trippi on Wednesday and earned the same time, was eighth in the Met Mile in his last start.

Balto Star nearing return

Balto Star, who has not raced since setting the pace in the Belmont Stakes, is under consideration for the Travers, but more likely will run in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, Pletcher said.

Balto Star was a front-running winner of both the Arkansas Derby and Spiral Stakes this spring, but tired in both the Belmont and Kentucky Derby. He thrives in the rain, which Pletcher said would be a factor in considering the Travers.

"He'd go in the Travers if everything was just right for him, in terms of the field and the pace scenario," Pletcher said.

Voodoo Dancer may go west

Voodoo Dancer, who won a division of the Lake George Stakes on Monday by 4 1/2 lengths, could head west for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 18, trainer Christophe Clement said. Voodoo Dancer already has made one successful trip west this year, winning the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 28.

"I like that race because it's level weights, not a handicap. That is a strong factor," Clement said of the Del Mar Oaks. "The problem is that it comes up quick. I'm going to wait a week to make a decision. If the filly is well, I will try to make it."

Men's Exclusive in hot barn

Men's Exclusive is trained in California by Wesley Ward, but at Saratoga his care has been overseen by Jose Cuevas, who supervises the East Coast string of trainer Bobby Frankel. Last weekend, Frankel won the Whitney Handicap with Lido Palace, and an allowance race with Kentucky Oaks winner Flute. Cuevas is expecting a top performance from Men's Exclusive in the Vanderbilt.

"He's doing very good," said Cuevas, who rides Men's Exclusive in his morning exercise. "He's happy, sound. Wesley told me to get on him after he ran bad on Belmont Day. I like to take that kind. No pressure. I've worked him four times. The other day, I tried to go in 1:03, but he went 1:01. He fooled me. He's galloping strong."

Bridgmohan out until next week

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan will be out of action until next Wednesday. He was head-butted in the face by a horse on Monday. Bridgmohan had nearly 100 stitches to repair his fractured gums and doctors told him not to get dirt in his mouth.

"If dirt gets in there it'll set him back three weeks," said Vic Gilardi, Bridgmohan's agent. "They won't let him ride until they take [the stitches] out on Tuesday."

On Thursday, Bridgmohan drove to Manhattan to visit the team dentist for the New York Rangers to see if a prosthetic mask could be made to protect his face.

Potaro done for year

Potaro, the Irish-bred 3-year-old who won the Virginia Derby in his last start, is out for the year after popping the splint bone in his right front leg. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard the injury is "very close to the suspensory."

Sheppard said the amount of time it would take for the injury to heal combined with the amount of time it would take to train him means Potaro would not be ready until the Gulfstream meeting.

Potaro, who was being pointed to Monday's National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes here, was 3 for 4 this year with a second-place finish by a neck in the Bal Harbour Stakes at Hialeah.

- additional reporting by David Grening

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