03/11/2005 12:00AM

Brazilians creating stir in California


NEW YORK - "Bananas is my business!" chirped the Brazilian Bombshell, Carmen Miranda. The exotic starlet gave the 40's Hollywood film scene its first taste of Brazilian culture. More recently, Brazil has sent to California incendiaries of the four-legged type, such as Leroidesanimaux, Lundy's Liability, and License to Run.

In fact, the banana republics of South America have made a virtual colony of Southern California racing this winter. Each of the last six weekends at Santa Anita has seen a South American import win a graded race not far from where Senhorinha Miranda had plied her trade in musical comedies.

The Argentine-bred Salt Champ got the South American carnival off to a flying start with victory in his U.S. debut in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 30. Lundy's Liability came to America from Brazil via South Africa and Dubai, where he won last year's UAE Derby, and won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 6. It was back to Argentina for Miss Loren's victory in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13. License to Run took the Grade 3 San Luis Obispo Handicap on Feb. 19, followed by the triumph of the Argentine mare Miss Terrible in the Feb. 27 Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap.

But it was left to Leroidesanimaux to trump them all last Saturday with his outstanding run in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile Handicap. A Brazilian-bred son of Candy Stripes, Leroidesanimaux led throughout, setting fast fractions. He passed the furlong pole in 1:21.41 but still had more than enough left to hold his rivals off. This was a performance of international caliber and would have made Leroidesanimaux the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Mile, for which, like most South American-breds, he is not nominated. That same problem also kept the likes of Pico Central, Hard Buck, and Total Impact out of last year's Cup, for which their owners sagely refused to ante up the exorbitant nomination fees required by owners who do not enter their foals to the Breeders' Cup program.

The Brazilian-bred Pico Central will get his big international chance March 26 at Nad al Sheba, where he will probably start favorite in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at six furlongs. A three-time Grade 1 winner since arriving from Brazil, Pico Central is trained by another Brazilian, Paulo Lobo, for his Brazilian owners at Haras Fronteira.

And there are more Brazilians on the way, including Durban Thunder, who has aired in three starts at Cidade Jardim in Sao Paulo and at Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, where he stormed to a six-length win over 13 rivals Jul 25 in the one-mile Group 1 Grande Premio Joao Adhemear de Almeida Prado. Now with Ken McPeek, Durban Thunder had been working impressively at Palm Meadows in Florida before departing for Dubai, where he was scratched on the eve of the Al Bastikiya last week.

McPeek said he would like to get him into the UAE Derby on March 26 for a meeting with European juvenile champion and Kentucky Derby hopeful Shamardal, but will not rush things. Whether he goes in the UAE Derby or not, Durban Thunder will return to America this spring.

Two other Group 1 winners from Brazil are already in the United States preparing for their North American debuts. Notificado, by the Forty Niner stallion Jules, is at Hollywood Park. He took the one-mile Grande Premio Presidente da Republica on turf at Gavea on Aug. 1. Even more exciting is Detective. By the Danzig stallion Burooj, he won the Grande Premio Jockey Club de Sao Paulo going 1 1/4 miles on turf at Cidade Jardim in just the third start of his career Oct. 12.