10/09/2001 11:00PM

Volponi to Meadowlands


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Phil Johnson was prepared to return Volponi to the turf in Saturday's Grade 3 Lawrence Realization at Belmont Park. But when the horse suffered an eye injury Tuesday night, the plan was put on hold.

Instead, Johnson now plans to point Volponi to the $250,000 Pegasus Handicap on the main track at the Meadowlands on Oct. 19.

On Monday, Johnson said that Volponi seemed uncomfortable in his last three dirt starts, which include a seventh-place finish in the Travers and a victory in a second-level allowance race here last Saturday. Since Volponi was talented enough to win his maiden in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont last October, Johnson figured he would try him on the turf again.

But Tuesday night, while in his stall, Volponi suffered a cut above his right eye. He was treated with antibiotics Wednesday, and while Johnson said he could run Volponi on Saturday if he chose to, he decided against it.

"I'd either have to put a blinker over that spot or risk getting dirt in it and having it get irritated,'' Johnson said.

Volponi would have been an interesting contender in the Lawrence Realization. The field figures to include Sharp Performance, who is 3 for 3 at Belmont, including the Grade 3 Lexington. He is coming off a one-length loss in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Sharp Performance was assigned high weight of 120 pounds for the 12-furlong race.

Others expected to run include Megantic (116), Berchtesgaden (114), Rapid Ryan (114), Reduit (114), Tiger Trap (114), Whitmore's Conn (114), and Bicentennial (113). Fast Spear (116) and Fast City (114) are also possible.

Frankel shoots for another stakes

Since the weekend of June 9-10, trainer Bobby Frankel has won at least one stakes in 14 of the last 18 weekends. Despite a light weekend of stakes action upcoming, Frankel may have two opportunities to win Sunday's Pebbles Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

Frankel may send out both Autumn Rhythm and Heads Will Roll in the nine-furlong turf race. The racing office has indicated a willingness to split the race if there are enough entries.

Autumn Rhythm has run only three times, one of them for Frankel. On Sept. 26, she finished second behind Nouvelle.

"She doesn't have that turn of foot, she's a little one-paced," Frankel said. "I thought she ran good the other day."

Heads Will Roll has not been out since out since May 12 when she finished third in the Edgewood Handicap at Churchill Downs. Frankel said he had her entered in a race at Monmouth Park during the summer, but the filly injured herself in the van and had to be given time off. She then was entered in another race but it was taken off the turf.

Among those pointing to the Pebbles, and their weight assignments, are: Calista (118), Lady of the Future (118), Wander Mom (116), Fiddle (115), Heads Will Roll (115), Nouvelle (115), Salty You (115), Stylish (115), Autumn Rhythm (114), Caught Out (114), Love N' Kiss S. (114), New Economy (114), and Time For Faith (111).

Touch Tone: knee surgery

Touch Tone, runner-up to Point Given in the Haskell Invitational, had chips taken out of both knees last week and will be out indefinitely, trainer Ronny Werner said.

"He's come out of it good,'' Werner said. "[Dr. Larry] Bramlage did it in Kentucky. He gave him a pretty good shot at coming back.''

Werner said a small chip was discovered following a workout last month at Belmont Park when Touch Tone was preparing for the Super Derby, which he missed. A second chip, in the other knee, was found later.

Werner said Touch Tone is at Arlington Park, where he will remain confined to his stall for a few weeks. He will then be turned out at Squaw Creek Farm in Weatherford, Texas, before resuming training early next year.

* Dream Supreme, who scratched out of the Sept. 29 Gallant Bloom because of a bruised foot, breezed three furlongs in 36.45 seconds over Belmont's main track. She may be pointed to the First Flight Handicap on Oct. 26.