08/25/2002 11:00PM

Zavata gets go sign for Hopeful

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Patrick Biancone had a pleasant, but difficult choice to make. Should he run Saratoga Special winner Zavata or Sanford hero Whywhywhy in Saturday's Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga?

Biancone worked both his promising juveniles shortly after the renovation break here Monday morning, then as expected tabbed Zavata for the seven-furlong Hopeful while opting to save Whywhywhy for the Grade 1 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 15.

Both Zavata and Whywhywhy worked five furlongs in 1:00 although they did not work in company.

"The plan today was to put Zavata behind another horse and let him get a little mud in his face," said Biancone. "He got a little scared for a jump or two down the backstretch when getting hit by some dirt in his last start. I just wanted to give him a little reminder of what it is like before he runs again."

Biancone said the decision to run Zavata in the Hopeful and conserve Whywhywhy for the one-mile Futurity was simply a matter of maturity.

"They are both very talented but very different horses," said Biancone. "Zavata has more speed and more natural power and is already acting like a 3-year-old. He's very ready to run on Saturday. Whywhywhy is more babyish. I gave him a little break after the Sanford. While he could have run Saturday I preferred giving him a bit more time before his next start."

A field of seven or eight 2-year-olds is shaping up for the Hopeful. Along with Zavata the lineup also figures to include Rights Reserved, Risky Cat, Roaring Fever, Sky Mesa, Storm Cadet, and Pretty Wild. Run Production is listed as possible.

Roaring Fever, Pretty Wild, and Storm Cadet also worked Monday.

Roaring Fever, a full brother to Grade 1 winner Raging Fever, worked a half-mile in 48, Pretty Wild worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.20, and Storm Cadet breezed five-eighths in 1:02.80 over the Oklahoma training track.

Rosetti's career lasts just one race

Biancone also reported that Rosetti, a $1 million juvenile purchase who was an impressive debut winner on Aug. 11, has been retired after sustaining a hairline fracture in his left front cannon bone during a morning workout. Biancone had considered running Rosetti, a 3-year-old son of Seattle Slew, in the Travers before his injury.

"It would take at least six months before he could return to training and with his outstanding pedigree he has a chance to become a very good stallion," said Biancone.

Squirtle Squirt preps for Forego

Trainer Bobby Frankel sent out a handful of his top horses to work after the break Monday, led by Eclipse Award winner Squirtle Squirt who went five furlongs in 1:01. Squirtle Squirt will share high weight of 122 pounds with Orientate in Sunday's Grade 1 Forego Handicap.

"I put a lip chain on him just to slow him down this morning," said Frankel. "If you let him roll he can work a half mile in 45. That's nothing for him."

Squirtle Squirt has started just once since winning the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint, finishing second behind Snow Ridge in Santa Anita's Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 27. He returned to training this summer after having a chip removed from his knee, the second such surgery Squirtle Squirt has undergone during his career.

"He's sounder now and easier to gallop," said Frankel. "He looks good and he hasn't forgotten how to run. He might not be dead fit for this race so I'm not going to play any games trying to rate him. When the gates opens he's got to go."

Among the other Frankel stakes runners to work Monday were Denon (four furlongs in 48.80), Lido Palace (five furlongs in 1:00.40) and Aldebaran (five furlongs in 1:01..60).

Frankel said Lido Palace remains on target for the Grade 1 Woodward on Sept. 7, although he is undecided whether Denon will start the same afternoon in the Grade 1 Man o' War Handicap or just train up to the Breeders' Cup Turf. He said Aldebaran could make his next start in Woodbine's Atto Mile.

A field of six or seven is likely for the 6 1/2-furlong Forego. Along with Orientate and Squirtle Squirt the field is expected to include Explicit, Multiple Choice, Saint Verre, and Silky Sweep with Hook and Ladder listed as possible.

Take Charge Lady aims for Gazelle

Take Charge Lady worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Monday as she continues to prepare for the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 7.

Take Charge Lady has been idle since winning the Ashland Stakes on May 25. But after trainer Ken McPeek brought Repent back from a 4 1/2-month layoff to finish a courageous second in the Travers, nobody is questioning whether Take Charge Lady will be ready for a top effort in the Gazelle.

"I considered bringing her back at Arlington in the Matron but it looks like the Gazelle is going to come up a nice, short field with only Bella Bellucci to beat," said McPeek.

Take Charge Lady has won four of her last five starts, her only loss a second-place finish behind Farda Amiga in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Three long droughts end at once

Trainer John Quiles, jockey Yonis Lasso, and the 3-year-old New York-bred Vitamin C. teamed up for an improbable triumph in Monday's first race.

Vitamin C. had not hit the board in 16 previous starts before rallying to a head victory over seven other New York-bred 3-year-old maidens. The win was the first in 46 tries this season for Quiles and also the first this year for Lasso, who was 0 for 45 for the year. Vitamin C. paid $81.50.

Awesome Humor set for Spinaway

Awesome Humor, the undefeated winner of the Debutante and Adirondack stakes, worked a half-mile in 54.11 seconds Saturday over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for Friday's Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes.

Trainer Elliott Walden said he wasn't looking for a strong workout because Awesome Humor would only have 18 days between races. She is coming off a 1 1/4-length victory in the Adirondack on Aug. 12.

Walden said the only reason he is running Awesome Humor back so quickly is because the Spinaway is a Grade 1.

Also expected to run in the Spinaway are Appleby Gardens, Forever Partners, Holiday Runner, Just Call Me Angel, Midnight Cry, Miss Mary Apples, Stellar, and Vasquez. Possible starters include Hope for Love and Traumatic.

Despite rain, Travers business strong

Despite heavy rain that forced all five scheduled turf races to the main track, handle on Saturday's 11-race Travers Day card was the third-highest in Saratoga history.

A total of $27,838,946 was wagered, including $1,369,444 on the all-stakes pick four. That figure ranked behind last year's total of $34,529,273 and the 2000 figure of $28,281,322.

Ontrack handle was $5,915,957 compared with last year's figure of $8,642,160. Attendance was 43,153 compared with 60,486 that saw Point Given win last year.

Puzzlement bled in Travers

Puzzlement, who finished fifth as the 7-1 third choice in the Travers, bled in the race, trainer Allen Jerkens said.

"We'll probably have to use Lasix on him," Jerkens said. "I don't know what we are going to do from here. We don't really have anything special planned.''

Trainer Nick Zito said Travers third-place finisher Nothing Flat came out of the race in good shape, and may be pointed to the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont.

Like a Hero, who finished fourth in the Travers, was to ship back to California on Monday and would be pointed to the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 21.

o Seven polo ponies were killed Monday morning in a crash on Rte. 87 just a few miles south of Saratoga Raceway. An eyewitness reported seeing the left front tire on the van blow out, causing the driver to lose control of his vehicle. The van was carrying 11 horses, many of whom ran loose on the highway following the accident.

- additional reporting by David Grening