06/07/2001 11:00PM

Ward works pair of good ones


ELMONT, N.Y. - Preparation for life after the Triple Crown was already in full swing Friday morning at John Ward's Belmont Park barn as he put a pair of his top horses through workouts over Belmont's main track.

Beautiful Pleasure, the champion older mare of 1999, breezed seven furlongs in 1:25.60, according to Ward, although clockers only credited her with a three-furlong move in 36.04 seconds. Also, Ward worked Peter Pan Stakes winner Hero's Tribute five furlongs in 59.81 seconds.

Beautiful Pleasure, who has not raced since finishing sixth in last November's Breeders' Cup Distaff, is being pointed to the June 23 Hempstead Handicap here, while Hero's Tribute is expected to run next in the Dwyer Stakes on July 8.

Ward said the confusion over Beautiful Pleasure's work could be attributed to that she began her breeze at the half-mile pole. Ward caught her in fractions of 13 seconds, 24.60, 37.20, and 48.80. Ward said he timed Beautiful Pleasure in 11 seconds from the wire to a furlong past. He had her galloping out a mile in 1:38.80 seconds.

"She's still her good old self," Ward said. "She's smarter than she's ever been. You would never have been able to go the first half in [48.80] before. Now, she's reasonable. She's responsive, she enjoys what she does."

Ward said Beautiful Pleasure is most likely to have four races prior to the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Races under consideration are the Go for Wand (July 29 at Saratoga), Personal Ensign (Aug. 24 at Saratoga), and the Beldame (Oct. 6 at Belmont Park).

Ward was extremely pleased with Hero's Tribute's five-furlong move, his first since winning the Peter Pan and the fifth fastest of 22 at the distance. He wore a Z-bar shoe to protect his left front foot but did not wear blinkers, equipment he wore for the first time in the Peter Pan.

"All I wanted to do was get a maintenance move and he went 59 and four," Ward said.

Ward said Hero's Tribute would train in the bar shoe for the next three weeks, but hoped he could use a regular shoe in the Dwyer.

Holiday Thunder, who began the year as a classics contender for Ward, along with Monarchos and Hero's Tribute, is ready to resume serious training with Ward's Kentucky-based string.

"He's back walking under tack," Ward said. "We took some debris out of one ankle. I wouldn't call it chips. It was more like sand particles. He'll go back into serious training next week after I get back from here."

Notables pass Brooklyn

Graded stakes winners Traditionally, Pleasant Breeze, and Graeme Hall were all considered possible for Sunday's Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap, but did not enter for various reasons.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said that Traditionally, who finished ninth in the Metropolitan Handicap on May 28, will be pointed to the Suburban Handicap on July 1.

"I just felt I'm rushing things," McGaughey said. "I can't go in there thinking whether he's going to run well or not. I'll get him ready for the Suburban my own way and hope the weather's good."

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Graeme Hall may be pointed to the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap next Saturday at Churchill Downs, where he would face Captain Steve and Unshaded. Another option for Graeme Hall is next Saturday's $200,000 Baltimore Ravens Handicap at Pimlico.

Trainer James Bond said he didn't want to run Pleasant Breeze against Albert the Great at this time. He too is considering the Baltimore Ravens Handicap and the Stephen Foster.

Velazquez returns from Puerto Rico

Jockey John Velazquez returned Friday from Puerto Rico where he was visiting his ailing father, Juan, who was hospitalized earlier this week.

It was thought Velazquez's father has leukemia, but Velazquez said it was not clear whether he has the disease. Velazquez said his father, who will turn 60 next week, will be in the hospital for another week.

"When I left [Thursday] night he was in good spirits," Velazquez said.

Velazquez, the meet's leading rider, won the fourth race aboard Exaltado ($6) and the fifth race aboard I Met Somebody ($19).

NTRA Champions series begins

Sunday's Brooklyn Handicap launches the "NTRA Champions" series, which comprises 11 races that will be televised on CBS.

Sunday's broadcast, which airs from 4-5 p.m. Eastern, also features live coverage of the Californian from Hollywood Park and a taped airing of Saturday's Manhattan Handicap.

The remainder of the CBS schedule is:

June 16 (4:30-6 p.m.), the Stephen Foster Handicap and the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap; July 1 (4:30-6 p.m.), the Hollywood Gold Cup, Suburban Handicap, and United Nations Handicap; July 28 (3-4 p.m.), the Whitney Handicap and the Arlington Handicap.

o Former president Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, were scheduled to attend Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Hillary Clinton was to present the trophy to the winning connections of the Belmont Stakes.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman