Updated on 09/15/2011 12:27PM

Ward's got Hempstead backup


ELMONT, N.Y. - When Beautiful Pleasure makes her 6-year-old debut in Saturday's $250,000 Hempstead Handicap at Belmont, her sternest competition may come from her own barn.

The connections of Beautiful Pleasure confirmed on Wednesday they would also run Darling My Darling in the Hempstead, a Grade 1 race at 1 1/16 miles. John Ward, assisted by his wife, Donna, trains both horses. Beautiful Pleasure is owned by John Oxley and Darling My Darling is owned by John's wife, Debby, meaning the two mares will be coupled in the wagering.

Darling My Darling, who is 5 for 11 but has yet to win a graded stakes, could provide insurance for Beautiful Pleasure, who has not been out since finishing sixth in last November's Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Donna Ward, who oversees both mares' training, said Beautiful Pleasure is "still a little fat although it doesn't seem to have slowed her down any. If, for any reason, she gets tired, Darling deserves a chance to win it; she can win it."

Darling My Darling is 2 for 2 this year, including a 3 1/2-length victory in the Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland on April 19. Mike Smith, who recently moved his tack to California, will return to New York to ride Darling My Darling on Saturday.

McGaughey gun shy

Although trainer Shug McGaughey snapped out of a month-long losing streak Wednesday, when Kris Pit got up in the final jump to win a third-level allowance race at Delaware Park, he remains mired in the worst slump of his career in New York.

McGaughey is 0 for 29 at Belmont, which is one reason why he is on the fence about running Serra Lake in Saturday's Hempstead Handicap. Before Kris Pit won Wednesday, Serra Lake was McGaughey's last winner, taking the Pimlico Distaff on May 19.

"There's something going on in my barn, and until I figure it out I'm a little gun shy about running," McGaughey said.

He said his horses aren't sick, but also said, "there's something going through their system that's not right."

McGaughey has drawn blood on several of his horses and sent samples to doctors at the University of Kentucky for tests.

In addition, he has sent samples of feed, water, and soil to doctors at the University of Cornell. McGaughey did this after poor performances by Chasm and Finder's Fee last week.

"They didn't have to win, but I thought they'd run good and they both ran awful," McGaughey said.

* After watching Shopping for Love work an easy five furlongs in 1:04.06 over Belmont's training track on Wednesday, trainer Kenny Nesky said his 4-year-old filly will run in Sunday's Mount Vernon Handicap for New York-breds. Shopping for Love will be running back just two weeks after finishing second in the Grade 3 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap. "She didn't need much," Nesky said.

* Peeping Tom, who came out of his second-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap with a bruised foot, breezed three furlongs in 36.42 seconds Wednesday. He is being pointed to the Tom Fool Handicap on July 4.