08/07/2006 11:00PM

Wild Desert to go in Sword Dancer

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Relaxed Gesture, third behind English Channel in the United Nations and headed for the Sword Dancer, has a roll in the sand at Saratoga on Tuesday morning.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher is still not sure where he's going to run English Channel on Saturday, but the possibility that English Channel will head to the Arlington Million has caused trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. to put Wild Desert on turf for the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga the same day.

Wild Desert, owned by Dan Borislow, most recently was second to Invasor in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park. The 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer will be his fourth start on turf.

"We'll run him. I'm just hoping it works," Dutrow said at his barn Tuesday morning. "I don't mind trying. The owner wants to do it, and I don't have a problem with it."

The field for the Sword Dancer could well depend on where Pletcher runs English Channel. If he goes to Arlington, the Sword Dancer field figures to grow. Entries for the Million were to be taken Wednesday, Sword Dancer entries on Thursday. Pletcher is considering English Channel and Go Deputy for both races.

"I'll probably name a rider for English Channel and Go Deputy in the Million and see how the race is drawn," Pletcher said.

The Arlington Million is worth twice as much as the Sword Dancer, but it is at 1 1/4 miles. Pletcher said the advantages in staying at Saratoga with English Channel are that "it keeps him at a mile and a half, he can run back in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at a mile and a half, and then the Breeders' Cup at a mile and a half.

"The Sword Dancer should be the easier race, and we wouldn't have to ship," he said. "He's only run once on turf here, when he broke his maiden."

Others considered definite for the Sword Dancer are Crown Point, Grand Couturier, Jambalaya, and Relaxed Gesture.

I'm the Tiger to pass on Vanderbilt

Mass Media will go in the Grade 2, $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt for sprinters on Saturday, but stablemate I'm the Tiger will stay in the barn, trainer Bobby Frankel said Tuesday.

Frankel believes that the prospective race shape of the six-furlong Vanderbilt will better suit Mass Media - who can stalk - than I'm the Tiger, who goes full-throttle from the start.

"There's too much speed in the race for I'm the Tiger," Frankel said at his barn. "I'll just find another race for him."

I'm the Tiger returned from an eight-month layoff on July 26 and finished second in a money allowance race. Running in the Vanderbilt would have meant coming back on just 17 days' rest, which is not Frankel's style.

Mass Media has not raced since May 29, when he finished third in the Met Mile, which was only his second start of the year. He captured the Forego Handicap here last year.

"I thought he ran a good race in the Met Mile," Frankel said. "We took him out of his style by going for the lead, but there was no choice. He broke out of the one hole, and there wasn't a lot of speed in the race. It was a hard race on him. He hasn't run since because I didn't want to run him back quickly."

Belmont specialist Silver Train won the Met Mile, and Sun King finished second. Sun King subsequently was second in the Whitney Handicap.

The Vanderbilt is expected to include speedsters Afrashad and War Front.

"It sets up with a lot of speed in the race," Frankel said.

Artie Schiller sore, but X-rays clean

Artie Schiller, who finished fourth in a field of five as the heavy favorite in the Fourstardave Handicap on Sunday, was "walking very gingerly" the morning after the race, but his X-rays were clean, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Tuesday morning

"His ankles were big," Jerkens said. "It's just wear and tear."

Jerkens said he was going to "play it by ear" with Artie Schiller, who is winless in three starts this year, his only races since capturing the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall.

Promising fillies meet up

Thursday's card is a surprisingly good one for the middle of the week. In addition to two stakes, there are two maiden races on turf, two allowance races, and a pair of maiden races for 2-year-old fillies.

In the second race, at six furlongs, trainer Nick Zito sends out the A.P. Indy filly Autobahn Girl, a homebred of Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation.

The sixth, though, might have come up the tougher of the two maiden filly races. The 5 1/2-furlong race matches Five Star Daydream, who finished second in her debut in a highly rated dash at Belmont, and Imperial Reign, who was a $1 million purchase at Ocala in March.

Five Star Daydream, a daughter of Five Star Day, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89 chasing the fleet Magical Ride going five furlongs on July 14.

Shug McGaughey, Five Star Daydream's trainer, said, "She ran into a buzzsaw."

Imperial Reign, a daughter of Indian Charlie, is trained by Eoin Harty, who was an assistant to Bob Baffert when Indian Charlie was racing.

"She appears precocious, and he was very precocious," Harty said. "She kind of reminds me of her dad."

Work hindered for Magical Ride

Magical Ride worked on Tuesday for the Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack Stakes on Aug. 16, but it did not go as planned. Just as the filly broke off under jockey Fernando Jara, the siren blared, signifying a loose horse. Jara proceeded cautiously, and Magical Ride covered the distance in 51.12 seconds. Only one horse out of 33 worked slower.

"I wanted her to do more, in all honesty, but it was all that could be done under the circumstances," said Rusty Arnold, who trains Magical Ride. "I might blow her out now, which I probably wouldn't have done if the work had gone right. But it's just a small bump in the road."

Pletcher stakes winners drill

The filly Cotton Blossom and the colt Scat Daddy, who won the two opening-week stakes for 2-year-olds for Pletcher, each breezed a half-mile on Tuesday morning on the Oklahoma training track in preparation for stakes starts at the end of the meet.

Cotton Blossom, who captured the Schuylerville Stakes on opening day, July 26, was timed in 50.63 seconds. She will make her next start in the Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway Stakes on Sept. 3.

Scat Daddy, who took the Sanford on July 27, went a touch faster, in 50.35 seconds. He is scheduled to race again in the Grade 1, $250,000 Hopeful Stakes on closing day, Sept. 4.

Flower Alley pointed to Woodward

Pletcher said that blood work on Flower Alley following the Whitney on Saturday was "unremarkable."

He said Flower Alley would be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward Stakes on Sept. 2.

The Woodward, which had been held at Belmont Park, was moved to the closing weekend of Saratoga this year.

Asmussen scouting yearlings

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who is one month into a six-month suspension for a medication violation, was at the Saratoga sale grounds Tuesday morning scouting yearlings. During his suspension, Asmussen cannot go to a track or stable area for racing, but he can attend sales.

"I'm looking for runners for next year," he said. "I'm acting like I have a job, and hoping they don't forget me."