07/13/2003 11:00PM

Bad-foot 'Billy' still running

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Asong for Billy approaches his graded stakes debut in Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park following an impressive victory in an allowance race June 22.

He also comes into the race fighting chronic foot problems, which is why trainer Paul Aguirre is eager for the weekend to get here.

The winner of the Pomona Derby on dirt last fall, Asong for Billy appears well suited to the Sunset distance of 1 1/2 miles. He won a starter allowance race over 1 1/4 miles on dirt last March at Santa Anita, finished second in the Greenwood Cup Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on a sloppy track at Philadelphia Park on June 7, and was a front-running winner of an allowance race over 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 22.

It was the last-named race that gave Aguirre a reason to point Asong for Billy for the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap, which is run on turf.

The Sunset is the most lucrative race on the final weekend of the Hollywood spring-summer meeting. Saturday's program is led by the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship for 2-year-olds over six furlongs.

Aguirre considered skipping the Sunset Handicap with Asong for Billy in favor of the $75,000 Escondido Handicap on Aug. 6 at Del Mar, but is shooting for the more lucrative prize.

"The race comes up quickly but with the amount of money it makes sense to do it," he said.

Asong for Billy was claimed by Aguirre and Wong's Stable for $40,000 from a maiden race at Hollywood on July 4, 2002. Since then, he has won 5 of 8 starts and finished second twice despite batting foot problems.

A bruised foot sent Asong for Billy to the sidelines last fall. After the Greenwood Cup, Aguirre discovered that the Asong for Billy had two quarter cracks. The trainer is hopeful the foot problems will not hurt his chances in the Sunset.

Sunday, Asong for Billy worked six furlongs in 1:13.

"He finished really well," Aguirre said. "I'd love to stop on him for two or three months, but he's doing well."

Asong for Billy was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela in the June 22 allowance race, but G.F. Almeida has the mount in the Sunset. Valenzuela rides Continental Red, the 2002 California-bred horse of the year, who won the Quicken Tree Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf here last month.

Other probables are Cagney, Nazirali, Puerto Banus, Stormin' Heaven, and Tifonica.

Aguirre has Stalking Tiger nominated for the Juvenile, but is uncertain whether the gelding will start. Stalking Tiger is unbeaten in two starts, including the Haggin Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on June 21.

The Juvenile contenders are led by Ruler's Court, a maiden winner for trainer Eoin Harty on June 11, and Alpenfest, the winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on May 18. Trainer Mike Harrington said that either Alpenfest or Dave the Dude will start in the Juvenile. Other candidates include Blairs Roarin Star, Perfect Moon, and Tricky Flash Flood.

If Stalking Tiger does not start in the Juvenile, he will be pointed to the $125,000 Graduation Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs for California-breds at Del Mar on July 30.

Despite having Stalking Tiger and a few other fresh horses in his barn, Aguirre is looking more toward the second half of the Del Mar meeting, when some of his horses have had a chance to recover from races at Hollywood Park.

"My horses are spent from this meeting," he said. "I do better in the second half of that meeting."

'Full Moon' nears millionaire status

Age does not seem to affect Full Moon Madness, who won his fourth consecutive race in Saturday's Robert Kerlan Handicap. Now 8, Full Moon Madness has moved to within $17,000 of becoming a millionaire.

The breakthrough could come at Del Mar in the $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap, a sprint on dirt on Aug. 17, or the $75,000 Green Flash Handicap over five furlongs on turf on Aug. 20.

Full Moon Madness races for the Corey Family Trust, the four children of the late Ed and Virginia Corey. In the mid-1990's, Ed Corey operated the Three Point Stable in Arizona, California, and Texas. Currently, the family campaigns only Full Moon Madness. He was claimed in his first start and has been owned by the family since.

Full Moon Madness is trained by Bob Marshall, and stabled with his former assistant, Ruben Cardenas.

Cardenas was not surprised that Full Moon Madness scored a victory off a comeback. "He always runs well fresh," Cardenas said. "He was ready three weeks ago. He's going to the track like a young horse. He gets stronger the older he gets."

Marshall said that whatever race is next, the Corey family - children and grandchildren - will be present in strength.

Claimer tests positive for clenbuterol

The purse of a $10,000 claiming race run at Santa Anita on March 1 has been redistributed after post-race tests revealed an excess amount of clenbuterol in race winner Daunting.

Daunting was the 7-5 favorite and a two-length winner of the 11th race on the program that included the Santa Anita Handicap.

The $17,000 purse has been redistributed to the owners of the second- through sixth-place finishers - Golden Bonus, Pet Bob, Artic Price, Doc Ihnken, and Runaway Kidd.

In a related decision, Alfredo Marquez, the trainer of Daunting, was fined $1,500 in a settlement with the California Horse Racing Board.

Clenbuterol is a medication used to help horses with breathing problems. It is allowed to appear in post-race tests in minute levels.

Stevens new rider for Golden Apples

Golden Apples, the champion turf female of 2002, will be ridden by Gary Stevens when she makes her first start of the year in the $400,000 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar on July 26, trainer Ben Cecil said.

Golden Apples was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela in the second half of 2002. Valenzuela will ride Tates Creek for Bobby Frankel in the Mabee, a Grade 1 race - formerly known as the Ramona Handicap - over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Sunday, Golden Apples worked seven furlongs on turf at Hollywood in 1:27. Cecil clocked the final quarter mile in less than 24 seconds.

Stevens will miss most of this week to attend press conferences in New York for the movie "Seabiscuit," in which he appears. He will ride at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

P. Val, Smith to serve suspensions

Valenzuela and jockey Mike Smith have withdrawn appeals of suspensions from earlier this year and will each miss three days of racing this week.

Valenzuela, who through Sunday led all riders at the meet with 76 wins, will be suspended from Wednesday through Friday. Smith's suspension covers racing from Thursday through Saturday.

Valenzuela dropped an appeal from mid-June. Smith was suspended for a riding infraction at Santa Anita in late March. The ruling issued at that time would have interfered with Smith's appearance on Azeri in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in early April.

Toasting Eddie D., too

In the past 13 months, three Hall of Fame mainstays on the Southern California circuit - Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, and Laffit Pincay Jr. - have retired. McCarron and Pincay had retirement ceremonies at Hollywood, but Delahoussaye has declined offers from local tracks for a tribute, saying it would be too difficult for him to handle it emotionally.

But Hollywood was able to give Delahoussaye a quick surprise tribute on Sunday. Delahoussaye, who was at the track to honor Pincay, was asked to present the trophy to the winners of the A Gleam Handicap earlier in the day.

As Delahoussaye stood in the winner's circle, track announcer Vic Stauffer said, "On this day of honoring greatness, we'd like to call your attention to the winner's circle. Today's retirement celebration is not only about Laffit Pincay Jr. But this gentleman specifically said please do not make a fuss over him. So we won't.

"We will not tell you about his three wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup, his five Triple Crown, and seven Breeders' Cup victories. There will be no mention of his 6,384 wins and over $195 million in earnings. Nothing about being a Hall of Famer and one of racing's all-time greats. None of that. No fuss.

"We'll simply just say, presenting the trophy for today's A Gleam Handicap is jockey Eddie Delahoussaye."

Delahoussaye got a nice cheer from the crowd, and waved back with appreciation.

* Pincay signed autographs for fans earlier in the day near the paddock. He also requested that $12,000 worth of ad revenue from a special section produced by Daily Racing Form be earmarked for a fund to help defray the medical expenses incurred by jockey Joe Steiner, who was injured in an accident earlier this year at Santa Anita. The check was presented to Steiner by Daily Racing Form executives Charlie Hayward and Mandy Minger after Sunday's second race.

* Sing Because, the winner of the 2001 Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury Park, has been retired because of an injury, trainer Nick Hines said. Sing Because, 10, ended his career with a win in a $12,500 claimer over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on May 31. Overall, Sing Because won 15 of 53 starts and $466,640 in a career that began in 1996. Steve Burnett owns Sing Because.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman