03/24/2004 1:00AM

Beaten champs regroup well


ARCADIA, Calif. - Action This Day and Halfbridled, the 2003 2-year-old champions trained by Richard Mandella, are progressing nicely toward their next starts after suffering setbacks in their most recent races.

Halfbridled, who won an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old filly last year, suffered the first loss of her career when defeated by Silent Sighs in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 13. In her first work since then, and her first in preparation for next Saturday's Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, she breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03.60 Wednesday morning at Santa Anita with exercise rider Jenine Painter.

"It was a nice, easy work," said assistant trainer Becky Witzman, who is supervising the barn while Mandella is in Dubai this week.

Action This Day, last year's champion 2-year-old colt, suffered a gash to his right rear leg in the San Felipe Stakes on March 14. The wound took three stitches to close. Action This Day had a week off, but has returned to regular training.

"Today was the second day he's galloped," Witzman said Wednesday. "He jogged two days, and now he's galloped two days. He had the stitches taken out of his leg."

Yearly Report out so Santiago cancels travel plans

Javier Santiago was scheduled to go to Sunland Park on Saturday to ride Yearly Report in the $250,000 WinStar Sunland Oaks. But the 3-year-old filly tied up after a routine training gallop on Wednesday morning, which necessitated her being treated with a mild tranquilizer, which prevents her from running this weekend.

So her trainer, Bob Baffert, called an audible. He decided to add Courageous Act to the lineup for Saturday's $75,000 San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita, and put Santiago on that 3-year-old colt.

Courageous Act finished third most recently in a first-level allowance race. He is scheduled to face Jimmy's Instinct and Wimplestiltskin in the 6 1/2-furlong San Pedro.

Baffert was upset that Yearly Report tied up. She would have been a heavy favorite at Sunland Park.

"She's never done that before," he said. "She tied up as soon as she got back to the barn. We had to treat her. She needed a tranquilizer to get her completely relaxed."

Megahertz tunes up for Santa Ana

Megahertz, who should be a heavy favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap for female turf runners, worked a half-mile in 49.60 seconds on Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Megahertz won the San Gorgonio Handicap here on Jan. 10. Victor Espinoza will have the mount, replacing Alex Solis, who is in Dubai this weekend.

A small field is expected for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Ana. Among those who are expected to be entered are Katdogawn (Mike Smith the rider), Mandela (Kent Desormeaux), and Noches de Rosa (Tyler Baze), who won the race one year ago.

Megahertz was assigned 120 pounds, only two more than Fun House, a spread that infuriated Ron McAnally, the trainer of Fun House, who is a possible starter. Megahertz has competed against Grade 1 or Grade 2 horses for at least her last 12 starts, which include victories in the Grade 1 John Mabee/Ramona Handicap, Grade 2 San Gorgonio, and Grade 2 Santa Barbara. She also was a close fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Fun House comes off a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap, which marked her first appearance, and first win, in a graded stakes race.

"I'm going to look at other options," McAnally said.

Hoh Buzzard, who has not raced since the Dahlia Handicap on Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park, will skip the race because "she's got some mucus," trainer Ben Cecil said. "We're on hold."

Casas Caballo in Potrero Grande

Trainer Mike Mitchell had hoped to run Casas Caballo in an allowance race this week, but the race did not fill, so he will instead run the 4-year-old colt in Sunday's $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Casas Caballo forced the pace with eventual winner Pico Central in the San Carlos Handicap on March 7 before tiring to finish sixth. He had won three of his previous five starts.

"He's doing so good I decided to take one more shot at them," Mitchell said after Casas Caballo worked three furlongs in 36.40 seconds on Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park.

Mitchell had not decided on a rider as of Wednesday. Bluesthestandard was assigned top weight of 118 pounds for the 6 1/2-furlong Potrero Grande. Others expected for the race are McCann's Mojave, Unfurl the Flag, Watchem Smokey, and possibly Midas Eyes.

Terrell's big Beyer elevates expectations

Trainer Eoin Harty has high hopes for Terrell, who won a first-level allowance by seven lengths in 1:08.41 on Saturday, earning a gaudy Beyer Speed Figure of 114. It was the second victory in three starts for the 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor, who was second in his debut to Casas Caballo.

"It was pretty outstanding," Harty said. "On class, he was by far the best. He was super-impressive. Now's the time to go fry some bigger fish."

Harty won a similar first-level allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday with the Storm Cat colt TS Eliot, who sped six furlongs in 1:08.55 when winning by four lengths. TS Eliot was sent north so Harty would not have to run both Terrell and TS Eliot in the same race at Santa Anita. The strategy of divide and conquer worked to perfection.

"We've got to get him some black type," Harty said of TS Eliot. "He's got the pedigree to be a stallion."

Both Terrell and TS Eliot had throat surgery before their recent comebacks, Harty said.

San Luis Rey top three all target Capistrano

Meteor Storm, Labirinto, and Gene de Campeao, who took the first three spots in Saturday's San Luis Rey Stakes, are all expected to return in the closing-day San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 18.

A.C. Avila, the trainer of Gene de Campeao, thinks his horse can turn the tables on his rivals.

"He missed about 12 days after his last race," Avila said, referring to last month's San Luis Obispo Handicap. "He cut his left front leg. Three big cuts. I knew he would be a short horse."

* Add St Averil to the list of confirmed starters for the April 3 Santa Anita Derby, joining Imperialism, Lion Heart, Lucky Pulpit, Quintons Gold Rush, Rock Hard Ten, and Wimbledon.

* The multiple-stakes-winning turf horse Sweet Return worked an easy half-mile in 52.80 seconds on the Santa Anita turf for McAnally on Wednesday morning.

* Sham Stakes winner Master David, who is scheduled to make his next start on April 10 in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Bobby Frankel on Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park.

* Borrego, who is expected to make his next start in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 10, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 at Hollywood Park for trainer Beau Greely.

* Jockeys Santiago (aboard Consecrate), Desormeaux (Saint Afleet), and Emile Ramsammy (Teton Forest) all will be absent from Santa Anita on Sunday to ride in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park.