06/24/2009 12:00AM

Weather allows Musket Man to resume work

Bill Denver/Equiphotos
Musket Man, third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is pointing to the Grade 1 Haskell.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - With the weather finally drying out a bit on the Jersey Shore, Musket Man got back to work Wednesday morning at Monmouth Park.

In his first drill since finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, Musket Man was clocked in 47.80 seconds for the half-mile with jockey Daniel Centeno aboard. The Illinois Derby and Tampa Bay Derby winner worked in company with Ponzi Scheme, an unraced 2-year-old in trainer Derek Ryan's barn.

The breeze, delayed by all the recent rain, is Musket Man's first step on the road to the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational here Aug. 2.

"It was a good start back," Ryan said. "We've had so much crappy weather, I haven't got to do what I wanted. We had to get a work into him sooner or later. This was the first halfway decent morning we've had."

After the Preakness, Ryan gave Musket Man a two-week vacation at a local farm. Since his return, the almost continuous rain curtailed his schedule.

Ryan flirted with running Musket Man in the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes on July 11, Monmouth's traditional Haskell prep. The poor weather put an end to those plans.

"We missed too much time with the rain," Ryan said. "I was figuring on it, but with all the rain, we just ran out of time. I left Ireland because I hate the rain. It's been worse than Ireland around here, a real quagmire."

Musket Man will train up to the Haskell. For variety, Ryan will mix in at least one work on the turf.

"He will probably work every seven days, if the weather stays good," Ryan said. "The turf is a little kinder on them. They're all turf horses, but we run them on dirt. They were all born in a field."

Ryan points Bunker Hill to Long Branch

While Musket Man sits out the Long Branch, Ryan has another contender in Bunker Hill.

The "other" 3-year-old in the barn, Bunker Hill was a two-time stakes winner last year in a pair of off-the-turf situations: the Continental Mile at Monmouth and the Go for the Green Juvenile at Delaware Park.

He raced here earlier in the meet, finishing fifth to Lord Justice in the Spend a Buck Stakes on a speed-favoring track that Ryan felt compromised his colt.

"They are not going crazy fractions now like they were earlier in the meet," Ryan said. "We were in the garden spot, sitting three off the lead behind a horse going wire to wire. There was no stop in the winner that day."

Last week, Bunker Hill bounced back to get second in the Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town, beaten seven lengths by 1-2 favorite Big Drama.

Dinner With D C's debut uncertain

Sometimes 2-year-olds do too much, too soon.

Consider the case of Dinner With D C, an unraced filly for trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall.

She turned in a dazzling work Tuesday, a half-mile in 47 seconds from the gate, the fastest of 80 works at the distance.

Now Breen is unsure when she'll get to run.

"We're worried about her bucking her shins," Breen said. "We don't know when she'll make the races."

On a more positive note, Breen is pointing Atomic Rain to the Long Branch.

Fourth in the Wood Memorial, Atomic Rain went on to finish 16th in the Kentucky Derby. He bounced back to win a first-level allowance race here June 6, his only victory since his maiden score at Monmouth last year.