08/09/2002 11:00PM

Arbiter goes turf to dirt for stakes debut in Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Arbiter, who set a course record for 1 3/8 miles on turf in an allowance race on July 25, will make his stakes debut against California's top older horses in the

$1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 25.

Trainer Craig Lewis had considered the Del Mar Handicap on turf on Sept. 1 for Arbiter, but has opted for the richest race of this meeting. The Pacific Classic is expected to draw top 3-year-olds War Emblem and Came Home, as well as older horses Bonus Pack, Euchre, Grey Memo, Kela, Momentum, and Sky Jack.

Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corporation, which owns War Emblem, said the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner is also being considered for the

$1 million Travers Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga on Aug. 24.

"I'm not going to close the door on it," Mulhall said. "We've got to pick one of the two. I'm still leaning toward the Pacific Classic. We want the race that is the easiest.

"It will have something to do with Sky Jack. He could cause us some problems."

Both Sky Jack and War Emblem are front-runners. Arbiter has raced close to the pace, but Lewis said he does not need the lead.

"He can run anywhere we want to run," Lewis said. "He's a true mile-and-a-quarter horse and very versatile. The question is whether he's good enough. I hope he's good enough. The worse thing that can happen is he'll lose and we'll take him back on the grass."

Arbiter has won 5 of 10 starts, and three of his last four. On July 25, he tracked the pace to the stretch before pulling away to finish in 2:12.32.

Trainer Warren Stute said Grey Memo is not a definite for the Pacific Classic, but did not mention any alternative races. Grey Memo won the San Diego Handicap on Aug. 4 for his second stakes win of the year. He won the Godolphin Mile in Dubai last March.

"We're kind of undetermined at the moment," Stute said. "He won at a mile and an eighth - the Snow Chief Stakes when he was a 3-year-old - so he might go a mile and a quarter."

Milwaukee Brew, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, remains a candidate.

He worked six furlongs in 1:11.40 on Saturday and is being considered for the $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap in New York on Saturday.

Dig For It, third in the 2001 Pacific Classic, will miss the race this year because of a stifle injury.

Fair Apache retired

Fair Apache, a stakes-winning turf sprinter, has been retired and will be bred in 2003, trainer Christopher Paasch said Saturday.

A 6-year-old mare, Fair Apache finished fourth in the Answer Do Stakes against males on July 13, her final start.

Owned by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez, Fair Apache won 10 of 32 starts and $328,765. Her final stakes win came in the 2001 Valkyr Handicap against California-bred fillies and mares at Hollywood Park.

Illness rampant among 2-year-olds

Several trainers at Del Mar have 2-year-olds who are fighting illnesses, and that has affected entries, a racing official said.

Saturday, only six males started in a $50,000 maiden special weight, following the scratch of Burchfield. There were only six fillies entered in a similar race on Sunday. There is concern that the sick two-year-olds could affect entries through the end of the meeting on Sept. 11.

Burchfield was withdrawn after trainer Eoin Harty said he was found to be sick after a Saturday morning examination.

"For a horse that was going to run in a few hours, he wasn't right," Harty said. "I scoped him and he was full of mucus. I couldn't run him."

Trainer Clifford Sise said several 2-year-olds in his barn are ill.

"A lot have runny noses," he said. "A lot of the blood we've been pulling show that it's viral, so you have to let it take its course. Unless its quick, it could be for the meeting."

Disturbingthepeace goes in O'Brien

Disturbingthepeace, the top sprinter in California this summer, will attempt to win his third stakes of the year in the $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap next Sunday.

The 4-year-old Disturbingthepeace won the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on

July 6 and the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap here on July 27.

His opposition in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien will include I Love Silver, Komax, Lebontempsroulet, and Mellow Fellow.

The $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on turf on Saturday will include Doc Holiday, Inesperado, Mountain Rage, Mutinyonthebounty, and Regiment. Johar, Rock Opera, and True Phenomenon are passing in favor of the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 7.