07/20/2005 12:00AM

Wild Desert subject of probes


The racing commissions in New York and New Jersey are both conducting investigations into the whereabouts of Wild Desert before his victory in the $1 million at Woodbine.

"Enough questions have been raised that we have turned it over to our investigators," said Steve Pagano, the state steward at Monmouth.

The 3-year-old colt showed only two published workouts between his eighth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby on April 16 and the Queen's Plate on June 26.

The first work was five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Monmouth on May 29. He then had a slow three-furlong drill in 38 seconds at Woodbine two days before the race.

The paucity of workouts and speculation that he was never at Monmouth Park sparked the dual investigations.

"We have no record of the horse shipping in or out of Monmouth Park," said Michael Dempsey, Monmouth's racing secretary.

Stacy Clifford, a spokeswoman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, also confirmed an ongoing investigation.

Despite the absence of a strong workout tab, Desert Wild went off at 3-1 and overcame a tight squeeze at the eighth pole to win the Queen's Plate by a half-length.

Co-owner Daniel Borislow said after the race that he won $100,000 betting on Wild Desert. Keith Jones, another owner, said he won $13,000.

The ownership group also includes New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and longtime Dutrow client Sanford Goldfarb.

Wild Desert was originally trained by Ken McPeek, who has dispersed his stable to pursue a new career as bloodstock agent.

The colt was transferred after the Arkansas Derby to the Aqueduct-based Richard Dutrow Jr., who is currently serving the final weeks of a 60-day suspension for medication violations. The horse never ran in the name of Dutrow or any of his assistants.

Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, who has a Canadian division based at Woodbine, was listed as trainer for the Queen's Plate and the Prince of Wales Stakes on July 17 at Fort Erie, where Wild Desert finished third in the slop at 3-10.

"I don't know anything about it," Frankel said. "They asked me to run the horse in my name in Canada. That's what I did. That's all I know."

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson