08/01/2004 11:00PM

West Virginia shoots for Stallion bonus


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The connections of Smarty Jones lost out on a $5 million bonus when their 3-year-old was defeated in the Belmont Stakes by Birdstone. On Wednesday at Saratoga, another bonus is on the line, albeit a smaller one, in the $250,000 Cab Calloway.

Owners Donald and Mary Zuckerman will earn an extra $100,000 on top of the winner's share of the purse if West Virginia wins the 1 1/8-mile Cab Calloway, a division of the New York Stallion Stakes.

The Cab Calloway, which drew 10 New York-breds, is restricted to the progeny of New York stallions. West Virginia, a son of Tomorrows Cat, became eligible for the bonus by winning last year's Great White Way division and this year's Times Square division, both at Aqueduct.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, West Virginia is by far the most accomplished runner in the Cab Calloway. He has won half of his eight career starts, including three stakes, and tops the field in earnings with $268,100.

, who figures to be on or close to the lead, won the one-mile Times Square and the 1 1/16-mile Damon Runyon at Aqueduct by narrow margins. The Cab Calloway is his first start beyond 1 1/16 miles.

"He has the tendency to wait a bit when he makes the lead, so we hope he stays focused and he isn't surprised by someone if he's in front," Pletcher said.

John Velazquez rides West Virginia.

didn't run well in his last two starts, the Mike Lee and New York Derby at Finger Lakes, but was beaten only a nose by West Virginia in the Times Square. Pay Attention will run as an entry with Scooty. Both horses are trained by Scott Schwartz, who also owns Pay Attention.

"You can toss out the race at Finger Lakes because [Pay Attention] didn't like the surface; that was his only loss at two turns," Schwartz said. "He was outrun in the Mike Lee; he's not a sprinter."

was a head-turning winner in the slop at Belmont in May in an allowance race. He finished off the board in his next two starts, a turf race and the New York Derby.

is an intriguing runner and should be a decent price. Heathrow's trainer, Tom Bush, already saddled a big-priced winner at the meet when High Peaks won Saturday and returned $32.40. Bush removes the blinkers on Heathrow, who wore them for the first time in his last start and ran poorly as the favorite.