12/19/2008 12:00AM

Avila new owner of Gayego


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Gayego, winner of the Arkansas Derby in April who set a track record for 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30, has been privately bought by trainer A.C. Avila, according to Avila and the colt's former trainer, Paulo Lobo.

Avila declined to reveal the purchase price. The deal was finalized earlier this month.

Avila said Thursday that he intends to resell Gayego, but said that no deal has been finalized. Earlier this fall, Avila bought Two Step Salsa, the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Shortly after he acquired Two Step Salsa, Avila sold the colt to the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing.

The same could occur with Gayego, though Avila stopped short of saying he is selling the colt to owners based in Dubai.

Avila said Thursday that Gayego will not start in the $250,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, a race that Lobo had considered for the colt.

"I bought the horse to sell," Avila said. "I could go to the Malibu, but Lobo said the last race took a lot out of him. He lost some weight. I don't want to take a chance.

"My main goal is to take him to Dubai for the Golden Shaheen."

The $2 million Golden Shaheen is run over six furlongs on a straightaway March 28.

Previously owned by Cubanacan Stables, Gayego has won 4 of 9 starts and $763,020. The Arkansas Derby win vaulted Gayego into the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 17th. After an 11th-place finish in the Preakness Stakes, Gayego was given the rest of the spring and summer off. He returned to finish seventh in the Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 but rebounded to score a record-breaking win at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30, zipping 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.37.

The Malibu is expected to be led by Colonel John, winner of the Travers Stakes. Other possibles include the 2008 stakes winners Bob Black Jack, Georgie Boy, Golden Spikes, and Into Mischief. El Gato Malo, winner of the Lone Star Derby in May, is a candidate for the Malibu or the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf on the same day.

Into Mischief won the Damascus Stakes earlier this fall. The Malibu will be his final start before going to stud in Kentucky.

Tres Borrachos, winner of the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in July, is being pointed for the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 17, trainer Beau Greeley said earlier this month.

Victory Pete eyes Sunshine Millions Turf

Victory Pete scored an easy win in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on the main track Thursday. Victory Pete led throughout and pulled clear to win by 5 1/2 lengths over recent maiden race winner Lake Meza.

"I'm not sure I learned a lot," said Victory Pete's trainer, Alexis Barba. "Nobody challenged him."

Barba does know that she wants Victory Pete to go back to turf and has targeted the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 24. The Sunshine Millions is restricted to California-breds and Florida-breds.

Owned by Ellen and Peter Johnson, Victory Pete is a Florida-bred with 2 wins in 8 starts and earnings of $101,420. Earlier this year, he finished third in the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields and the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. The Sunshine Millions will be Victory Pete's stakes debut on turf.

"We know he can run on turf," Barba said.

Barba said she had no interest in shipping Victory Pete to Gulfstream Park for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic over 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the premier race of the one-day series.

Fine increased for unreported gelding

The California Horse Racing Board has stiffened penalties against trainers who fail to report when horses are racing as geldings for the first time.

At its monthly meeting at Santa Anita last Monday, the board adopted a rule to fine trainers a minimum of $1,000 if the sex of a horse is not properly identified in the official program. Previously, fines ranged from $300 to $500 for similar infractions. Trainers must inform track officials that a horse is racing as a gelding for the first time when entries are submitted a few days before a race.

Despite the tougher penalties, trainers will have the opportunity to present mitigating circumstances to the board in an effort to avoid being penalized. Racing as a gelding for the first time is considered an important handicapping factor, since such horses can show improvement.

Bejarano nears riding title sweep

Sunday is the closing day of the Hollywood Park autumn meeting and will be a milestone day for absent jockey Rafael Bejarano. Through Thursday, Bejarano had essentially clinched the riding title, with 49 wins, 20 more than Joel Rosario.

The riding title will give Bejarano a sweep of the major meetings in Southern California this year. Earlier this year, he won titles at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, Del Mar, and the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meetings. Bejarano, 26, relocated from Kentucky in November 2007.

Sunday, Bejarano is not riding at Hollywood Park. He is traveling to his native Peru for a vacation. He will return for Santa Anita's opening day Friday.

Through Thursday, Doug O'Neill had a commanding lead in the trainer standings, with 27 wins, eight more than John Sadler. O'Neill has eight runners Sunday, two starters in the first, third, fourth, and ninth races.

* Trainer Julio Canani was fined $500 by Hollywood Park stewards after Basil Premier tested positive for the muscle relaxant methocarbamol last month. The positive was found in a post-race test taken from Basil Premier after a fifth-place finish in a six-furlong allowance race on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 9.