10/25/2004 11:00PM

Buddy Gil retired to farm

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Buddy Gil, winner of the 2003 Santa Anita Derby, has been retired. He ran a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby that year and then began a steady decline in form after surgery on his ankle and knee.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The ride is over for Buddy Gil, who rose from northern California obscurity to win three graded stakes in Southern California, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

But Buddy Gil did not return to form after running sixth in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and subsequent arthroscopic surgery, and trainer Jeff Mullins said Tuesday the 4-year-old gelding has been retired and will go to owner-breeder Donnie McFadden's Billingsley Creek Ranch in Idaho. Buddy Gil retires with six wins and $804,067 from 18 starts, and is the horse credited with establishing Mullins on the Southern California circuit.

"He was kind of our springboard," Mullins said.

Buddy Gil was 2 for 6 in northern California when he joined Mullins's Santa Anita barn in winter 2003. He reeled off three straight - the Grade 3 Baldwin, Grade 2 San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, and the attention helped Mullins double the size of his stable. Buddy Gil finished a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby, and underwent surgery to remove chips from an ankle, and a spur on his right knee. Afterward, he won only one of nine starts.

"He never really did come back after the surgery," Mullins said, adding that neither he nor the gelding's owners wished to run him for a claim tag. "I didn't want to, they didn't want to . . . it just wasn't an option," Mullins said. Buddy Gil's owners are McFadden, Scott Guenther, Charlie Johnson, Tom Schriber and Rogers Severesen. Buddy Gil remains stabled at Santa Anita before he leaves to Idaho. "He's just waiting for a ride," Mullins said.

Mullins barn injury-riddled, too

The retirement of Buddy Gil is not the only recent setback for Mullins, whose stable has hit by injuries. Mullins declined to reveal specifics, but said several high-profile runners besides Buddy Gil have been turned out or retired, including stakes winners Summer Wind Dancer and Stage Player.

Summer Wind Dancer, the 4-year-old filly who won a Grade 3 and Grade 2 this summer, has been sent to Kentucky. Her future is undetermined. A five-time winner and earner of $898,762 in 18 starts, Summer Wind Dancer finished third in the California Cup Matron in her last start. Stage Player, third as the even-money favorite in the Cal Cup Mile, will be out "possibly a year" according to Mullins. He won six of eight starts after joining the Mullins barn.

Jazz Ya finished 12th in the Cal Cup Distaff and has been retired to be a broodmare. Cal Cup Classic sixth-place finisher Commander's Flag also has been retired. Mullins entered the week ranked fifth in the Oak Tree standings with seven wins from 42 starters. He plans to start Stormin Away on Friday in the $75,000 Pinjara Stakes, and said that 2004 Santa Anita Derby winner Castledale is galloping, and two months away from his first breeze.

Long Range Missile eyes Malibu

Undefeated 3-year-old sprinter Long Range Missile threatens to become the leading member of his division following a runaway four-length allowance win against older on Friday at Santa Anita. Long Range Missile won the six-furlong race for non-winners-twice-other-than in 1:07.88, good enough for a 107 Beyer. A son of Tactical Cat, he is trained by Ron Ellis and owned by B. Wayne Hughes, who said the colt will aim at the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26.

"We've been pointing to that all along," Hughes said.

Long Range Missile is now 3 for 3, and each start has been better than the one before. The 107 Beyer he earned was five points higher than Pt's Grey Eagle earned winning the Grade 1 Ancient Title on Oct. 10. Long Range Missile is not expected to start again until the seven-furlong Malibu on Dec. 26, opening day of the Santa Anita winter-spring meet.

West baffled by Bluesthestandard

Bluesthestandard, whose fifth-place finish in the Ancient Title knocked him out of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, worked three furlongs Monday in 34.40 seconds, according to trainer Ted H. West. The work was not recorded by clockers. Bluesthestandard finished fifth as the 2.90-1 second choice in the Ancient Title, an effort that still puzzles West. "I don't know what we're going to do," he said.

Bluesthestandard won the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap on Feb. 1, and has since lost four straight. Bluesthestandard, 7, has won 15 of 32 starts and $929,818. He ran second in the 2003 BC Sprint.

Baffert just missing

Although trainer Bob Baffert entered the week having lost with his last 32 starters, it would not be entirely accurate to say he is in a slump. In fact, Baffert runners continue to fire, yet come up short. Baffert got his last win Oct. 3 in Norfolk Stakes with Roman Ruler, but since then he has had eight seconds and five thirds. Baffert finished second in both weekend stakes for 2-year-olds - the Sunny Slope on Saturday with the colt Chips are Down, and the Anoakia on Sunday with the filly No Bull Baby.

Both earned career-best Beyer Speed Figures. Chips Are Down earned an 85 with a pressing trip close to a strong pace. "I think he would have been better just letting those [speed] horses go," Baffert said.

Chips Are Down finished 10 lengths clear of third, and is expected to run next Nov. 20 in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue.

No Bull Baby also earned an 85 Beyer, despite a wide trip over a racetrack that favored the inside lanes. She finished five lengths clear of third, and is expected to run next Nov. 21 in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park. Baffert is not ruffled by the string of losses. "I haven't been this 0-fer since I was training Quarter Horses," he said.

Etch looking to wire 'em

It has been one of the wettest Octobers in Los Angeles history, and the threat of more rain further weakened the Thursday card at Santa Anita.

There are two turf races in the eight-race card, which attracted 67 entrants. The seventh-race feature is a Cal-bred one other-than allowance sprint for fillies and mares, in which front-runner Etch will be favored to lead gate to wire.

Etch is trained by John Sadler and will be ridden by Tyler Baze. Etch finished second at the same level last out, and is making only her fourth career start. She'll face Champ's Rocket, Alpenwald, Jennifers Dance, and Desert Gal.