06/19/2008 12:00AM

WinStar buys Sweet Vendetta


ELMONT, N.Y. - Sweet Vendetta, winner of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes last month, has been purchased privately by WinStar Farm. According to Elliott Walden, WinStar's vice-president, Sweet Vendetta will remain with trainer Gary Contessa and is being pointed to the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 16.

Sweet Vendetta, a New York-bred daughter of Stephen Got Even, had been owned by Team Penney Racing and entertainer David Cassidy. She has won 3 of 7 starts and has earned $206,596.

"We bought her because we felt like she was getting good and would be a welcome addition to our broodmare band down the road," Walden said Thursday afternoon. "We gave her a little break after the Black-Eyed Susan. She had had quite a few races in the winter time, and she also showed in her form that she bled in the Busher."

Walden said that Sweet Vendetta spent some time in a hyperbaric chamber while at the farm and would be sent back to Contessa at Aqueduct next Tuesday.

Walden said he was initially hoping Sweet Vendetta could make the Coaching Club American Oaks here on July 19, but he doesn't believe there will be enough time to make that race.

Walden said the decision was made to keep Sweet Vendetta with Contessa because he knows the filly and her quirks so well.

Grand Couturier third in return

If ever a trainer could be happy with a third-place finish it was Robert Ribaudo after watching Grand Couturier lose by only three-quarters of a length to Distorted Reality in Thursday's $78,950 Academy Award Stakes.

Sitting last behind a slow pace, Grand Couturier, last year's Sword Dancer winner, showed a solid late kick in what was his first start since last October's Breeders' Cup Turf. Distorted Reality won the Academy Award by a head over True Cause, running a final quarter in 22.93 seconds to do it.

"He didn't get much help - that's okay - but still they finished that quick and he was still running," Ribaudo said. "He could have hung the last eighth and gotten beat two or three lengths and I still would have been happy. If he comes back good, we should have a couple of good races in our future. I'm very happy with this."

Grand Couturier upset English Channel in last year's Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga for his only win of the year. He then finished third in the Man o' War before running sixth to English Channel over soft turf in the Breeders' Cup.

Ribaudo said his goal for Grand Couturier this year is again the Sword Dancer with a possible start in the Man o' War beforehand. New York Racing Association officials moved the Man o' War from the fall to July 12. The Sword Dancer is run on Aug. 16.

Giant Moon getting a break

Giant Moon, the multiple stakes-winning New York-bred who finished eighth in the Preakness, is getting a month's vacation and thus will not run in Sunday's Mike Lee Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds.

Trainer Richard Schosberg said Giant Moon has been sent to owner Al Fried Jr.'s Buttonwood Farm in upstate New York to let him "frolic for a month in the pastures." Schosberg said Giant Moon came out of the Preakness with a sore back.

Schosberg said Giant Moon would likely return to him about a week before the Saratoga meet begins and could be pointed to a race up there or early in the Belmont fall meet.

Meanwhile, Schosberg will start That'srightofficer in the Mike Lee, the first leg of the OTBs' Big Apple Triple. The series also includes the $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 12 and the $100,000 Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 20. If a horse wins all three races, his owners earn a $250,000 bonus.

That'srightofficer has won 2 of 7 starts including a first-level statebred allowance going 1 1/16 miles here on May 10.

Schosberg said the seven furlongs of the Mike Lee are "probably not his ideal distance but the other two probably are."

The New York Derby is run at 1 1/16 miles while the Albany is contested at 1 1/8 miles.

* Commentator, runner-up to Divine Park in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, worked four furlongs in 49.75 seconds Thursday at Saratoga. He is preparing for a start in the Grade 1 Whitney on July 26. Commentator won the Whitney in 2005.

* Naughty New Yorker worked five furlongs in 1:02.37 at Belmont Thursday. He is under consideration for the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap on June 28.