08/26/2002 11:00PM

Zavata gets two more challengers


SARATOGA, N.Y. - Despite the imposing presence of Zavata, the field for Saturday's $200,000 Hopeful Stakes grew by two after trainers Chuck Simon and Stan Hough confirmed that Rights Reserved and Pretty Wild would run in the seven-furlong, Grade 1 sprint for 2-year-olds.

Simon gave the thumbs up after Rights Reserved worked four furlongs in 50 seconds shortly after the renovation break Tuesday morning at Saratoga.

"I'm not afraid of Zavata," said Simon, who purchased Rights Reserved, a gelding, privately for owners Ray Paris, John Ball, and Elliott Masie following his victory in Woodbine's Colin Stakes on July 14. "Actually, I'd be delighted if we can hit the board in the Hopeful because this race is really a stepping-stone for his next race, which will be around two turns in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

"This colt has pedigree on pedigree to go long, and from what I can see at this point most of the better horses in the division are all sprinters."

Rights Reserved is by With Approval out of the Forty Niner mare Royal Reserves. And while he's bred to run long and on grass he also showed enough speed to win the Colin by 3 1/4 lengths after contesting early fractions of 22 and 44.80 seconds.

"Even though he went to the front in his last race I'd rather get him to where he's finishing up, which is why I worked him slow early and got him to finish late this morning," said Simon. "If all goes well in the Hopeful and Lane's End, our ultimate goal is obviously the Breeders' Cup, which this year will be at a mile and one eighth, not a mile and one sixteenth, because of the configuration of the Arlington track. If not, there's always the Generous Stakes at Hollywood on the turf since his breeding suggests he'll also love the grass."

Hough was equally pleased with Pretty Wild's final work for the Hopeful on Monday, a five-furlong drill completed in 59.44, the fastest at the distance.

Pretty Wild finished third in each of his first two starts before posting an impressive five-length maiden victory at Belmont on July 13.

"He got sick after he broke his maiden and I missed some time with him so I had to get him back in the game and get something fast into him on Monday," said Hough, who trains Pretty Wild for owner-breeder Einar Robsham. "He was a little green in his first two starts when he got trapped down near the rail but last time, when he finally got out, he really finished well."

Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Pretty Wild to his maiden win and worked him Monday, will be aboard once again in the Hopeful.

Hough, who won the 1991 Sanford and Saratoga Special with Caller I.D., currently has 38 in training, the majority for Robsham.

Hough is also considering starting Traumatic in Friday's Grade 1 Spinaway. Traumatic was purchased privately by Robsham following her easy 3 1/2-length debut win at Delaware Park on Aug. 13.

"She also worked well Monday," said Hough. "She had a little pharyngitis when I bought her but she doesn't act sick and if she goes good the next couple of days I might enter her and take a look-see at the race."

Stellar reacts properly

Stellar, one of the likely favorites for the seven-furlong Spinaway, had trainer Patrick Biancone smiling after working a half-mile in 48.21 on Tuesday under jockey Edgar Prado.

"She changed leads perfectly, which is what I was looking for," said Biancone moments after the work. "I was very pleased."

Stellar rallied to a one-length victory in her career debut here on July 28. She returned 15 days later to finish a late-running second behind Awesome Humor in the Grade 2 Adirondack despite not changing leads on either occasion.

"She always changes her leads in the morning but I think maybe she just forgets to do it when other horses are around her in a race," said Biancone. "Don't forget she's still just a baby. That's why I put her with another horse this morning. When she came to that horse she changed perfectly."

Biancone is very confident Stellar will put in a big effort in the Spinaway.

"She's peaking perfectly for the race," said Biancone. "It looks like the Spinaway will have a big field with lots of pace and she likes to come from off the pace. Everything fits together just right."

Gygistar may train up to Sprint

Trainer Mark Hennig said 3-year-old Gygistar came out of his victory in Saturday's Grade 1 King's Bishop in good order and that he is now considering several options for the horse, who is undefeated in five starts this year.

"We can either go to the Jerome, the Vosburgh, or just wait for the Breeders' Cup Sprint," said Hennig, who trains Gygistar for owner-breeder Edward P. Evans. "And training him up to the Breeders' Cup may merit some strong consideration. He runs well off 45- or even 60-day layoffs. He really fires fresh. That just might be the way to go with him. We'll just see how he settles in at Belmont before making a decision."

Hennig and Evans had a huge weekend, winning the Grade 1 Personal Ensign with Summer Colony and the King's Bishop with Gygistar before finishing second with Raging Fever in the Grade 1 Ballerina on Sunday. They will try to keep the streak going Saturday with Roaring Fever, Raging Fever's full brother, in the Hopeful.

"Having only one race under his belt is certainly a disadvantage and it's probably not the ideal spot," said Hennig. "But he's going to need some races. He's still got quite a bit of boy in him to work out, and he may just have to get beat to really learn something. In the long run this may work out better than finding some easy spot for him."

Hennig said while Raging Fever turned out to be a better sprinter, he believes her brother will be stronger going a distance of ground.

"He's a bigger horse than her already with more scope," said Hennig. "He's got a good mind, is pretty laid back, and a bit more focused than she was at this stage."

- Edgar Prado's victory aboard Owsley in Monday's Glens Falls Handicap gave him a 46-40 advantage over Jerry Bailey in the jockey standings heading into the final week of the meet. Bill Mott held a 17-16 advantage over Todd Pletcher with one week to go in quest of his fourth straight Saratoga training title.

- Vasquez, a daughter of Coronado's Quest who is among the nominees for the Spinaway, turned in easily the fastest half-mile work on Tuesday's tab with a move timed in 46.62.