08/16/2005 11:00PM

Berbatim set to move on from injury

Perfect Drift, with trainer Murray Johnson at Del Mar on Wednesday, is one of four entrants for Sunday's Pacific Classic who has won a major stakes in the last six weeks.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Absent from the racetrack for more than two months, Berbatim might be overlooked in Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks.

In April, Berbatim won the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes by two lengths at Santa Anita, her first stakes win in Southern California. Then came a start in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in June, or something that resembled a start. A stride out of the gate, Berbatim stumbled badly, nearly unseating jockey Alex Solis. Solis lost his irons and essentially rode Berbatim in a bareback style to the backstretch before he pulled her up on the final turn. Worse, it turned out she had grabbed a forefoot coming out of the gate.

"She took a big piece out of her quarter," said trainer Richard Mandella.

The injury cost Berbatim a start in the $750,000 American Oaks in early July and put the focus on Saturday's Del Mar Oaks, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's made it back," Mandella said. "It took three weeks to get it good enough to train. Then, we had to start over. It's taken until now to be good enough to run."

Owned by Gary and Wendy Broad, Berbatim has won 3 of 7 starts and $133,106.

Berbatim's victory in the Providencia suggests she could be a factor in the Del Mar Oaks. She stalked the pace to the final turn and pulled away to win the Providencia by 2 1/2 lengths.

While the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks will have a strong field, it has drawn only one of the first three finishers of the American Oaks - Singhalese, who finished third. Cesario, the winner of the American Oaks, has returned to Japan, and Melhor Ainda, the runner-up, finished third against older fillies and mares in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park last Saturday.

Aside from Singhalese, who returned to win an allowance race here Aug. 1, the other top contenders are Shining Energy, the winner of the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on July 30; Louvain, the winner of the Flawlessly at Hollywood Park on July 5; and Three Degrees, who won the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Can Musique Toujours find million-dollar form?

Musique Toujours is the answer to a tricky trivia question: Among the entrants for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic, who is the lone winner of a million-dollar race in 2005?

Musique Toujours pulled a 70-1 upset in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park in January. It remains the first and only stakes win of his 21-race career. Owned by Lloyd DeBruycker and Richard Glassman and trained by John Sadler, Musique Toujours subsequently finished eighth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March and fourth in the Hollywood Gold Cup in July.

The Gold Cup performance, a loss by 11 3/4 lengths to Lava Man, was not as bad as it looked. Musique Toujours had not started in four months, broke slowly, and was beaten only 3 3/4 lengths for second by runner-up Borrego.

"With any luck, we could have been second," Sadler said.

The Pacific Classic drew 12 entrants Wednesday, including Ace Blue, Borrego, Choctaw Nation, Congrats, Lava Man, Island Fashion, Oceanus, Perfect Drift, Polish Times, Super Frolic, and Surf Cat. Post positions were scheduled to be drawn Wednesday evening.

Polish Times, ninth in a $62,500 claimer on turf Aug. 10, was a surprise entrant. If all 12 start, Sunday's Pacific Classic field will be the second-largest field in the 15-year history of the race. In 2002, the race drew 14 runners.

Despite the presence of four major stakes winners in the last six weeks - Hollywood Gold Cup winner Lava Man, San Diego Handicap winner Choctaw Nation, Swaps Stakes winner Surf Cat, and Washington Park Handicap winner Perfect Drift - Sadler said he is ready to take a chance with Musique Toujours.

"This is the same kind of situation as the Gold Cup," he said. "It's not the top top tier. We want to be in there."

Unfurl the Flag tops Pat O'Brien BC

Sunday's Pacific Classic program also features the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap over seven furlongs.

The race is led by Unfurl the Flag, the winner of the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park last month.

The field will not include Minister Eric, the winner of the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita in January. He has contracted an illness, according to Mandella. The setback is the second of the meeting for Minister Eric, who missed the San Diego Handicap on July 24 because of a minor ankle injury.

Declan's Moon back in training

Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, has resumed workouts, with the goal of an October return, trainer Ron Ellis said.

Unraced since winning the Santa Catalina Stakes in March, Declan's Moon breezed three furlongs in 38.20 on Sunday at Santa Anita.

"We're letting him stretch his legs," Ellis said. "The rider just sat on him."

Ellis said he is considering the $200,000 Perryville Stakes over about seven furlongs at Keeneland on Oct. 14 as Declan's Moon's comeback race.

"If everything goes right, we'll have plenty of work for that," he said.

Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, Declan's Moon is unbeaten in five starts and has earned $627,300.

Sorenson to undergo tests on injuries

Jockey Danny Sorenson is scheduled to undergo tests Aug. 24 to determine the extent of the injuries he suffered to his collarbone and shoulder in a spill in Monday's first race.

Sorenson was aboard Perfect Judgement, who fell in the stretch after fading from contention in a race over 5 1/2 furlongs. Sorenson was on the backstretch Wednesday morning, wearing a brace for his left shoulder and collarbone.

* Jockey Rene Douglas took off his mounts Wednesday following the death last weekend of his older brother Terry. Terry Douglas was found dead in his home, near Los Angeles. Rene Douglas is booked to return to riding Friday. Through Monday, Douglas was tied for seventh in the standings with 10 wins.