08/04/2002 11:00PM

'Buffy' the filly slayer


DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Mel Stute turns 75 on Thursday. His birthday present may arrive two days late when Buffythecenterfold starts in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar.

Buffythecenterfold won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 4 and is considered by Stute to be among the best 2-year-old fillies he has trained. It is not an easy club to join. In 1986, Stute had two of the best 2-year-old fillies in the nation - Brave Raj and Very Subtle.

Brave Raj won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and was named division champion. Very Subtle was unbeaten in four starts at 2, the foundation of a career that included a victory in the 1987 Breeders' Cup Sprint against males.

Buffythecenterfold has won both her starts, including a maiden race over five furlongs on June 15. "She seems, in my mind, much stronger than Very Subtle or Brave Raj was at this stage," Stute said. "I do think she's a better filly."

Stute acquired Buffythecenterfold privately for owner Allen Brian in March after she was not sold at the Barretts 2-year-olds in training sale. He has the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park in October as a long-term goal.

"The problem is keeping her sound," Stute said. "She's a big filly."

The Sorrento has a strong history with the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, with four fillies winning both races - Brave Raj (1986), Phone Chatter (1993), Silverbulletday (1998), and Tempera (2001). Two other Sorrento winners finished second in the Juvenile Fillies - Career Collection (1997) and Chilukki (1999).

On Saturday, there will be no shortage of fillies trying to beat Buffythecenterfold and use the race as a springboard to the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante on Aug. 31. The probables include Dutchess Eben, Himalayan, Magic Smoke, Roar Madness, Tricks Her, and Voodoo's Sister.

Trainer Jim Chapman said that Humorous Lady, the 40-1 upset winner of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes for statebreds on July 26, may start.

De Seroux's fillies and mares

Little Treasure, the winner of Saturday's San Clemente Handicap in her U.S. debut, is likely to reappear in the $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park on Sept. 14.

Trainer Laura de Seroux has Dublino pointed for the Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 24, and would like to run Little Treasure in Chicago, the home of majority owner Sidney Port.

De Seroux has won nine stakes this year with four fillies and mares - Astra, Azeri, High Society, and Little Treasure. Of the quartet, Azeri is the only one racing on dirt.

On Sunday, Azeri, the leading older filly or mare in California, will try for her fifth consecutive win in a graded stakes in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap over 1 1/16 miles. She has not lost since finishing second to Summer Colony in the La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

Her competition is expected to include Adoration, Collect Call, Irguns Angel, Mind for Gold, Queen of Wilshire, and Se Me Acabo.

Ad deals for Solis and Valenzuela

Jockeys Alex Solis and Patrick Valenzuela recently reached agreements with sponsors and are displaying logos on their pantlegs.

The practice was approved by the California Horse Racing Board earlier this year but is not in wide practice. Owners are allowed to sell advertising space in a small area on the front of their silks. Solis is being sponsored by Priorities, a clothing store in Newport Beach, Calif., and by Wall Design, a construction firm.

On Sunday, he wore a Priorities logo on his pantlegs. Solis said the agreement runs through the Del Mar meeting, which ends on Sept. 11. He declined to reveal the financial terms of the deal.

Valenzuela, the leading rider at the recently concluded Hollywood Park meeting, is being sponsored by Steve Taub, who owns an Audi/Porsche dealership in Santa Monica.

"I figured someone would approach me, and it was Pat," Taub said. "I thought about it and said, 'Why not?' I thought it would be a neat thing to do."

Since the CHRB approved sponsorships in March, only one owner's riders - Godolphin's - and Solis and Valenzuela have worn sponsor emblems. Godolphin, the racing stable of the Maktoum family of the United Arab Emirates, is sponsored by Emirates Airlines.

A similar program for sponsorships has been in place for 10 years in England, featuring logos on silks, jockey's attire, horse blankets, and clothing worn by stable staff.

Since late April, many jockeys throughout California have worn a "JMG" logo on their pantlegs, an acronym for Jockey Management Group, which has been working on behalf of the riders to find a sponsor for the entire group. So far, no deals have been finalized.

Solis did not sign with JMG earlier this year, but had a friend, whom he declined to name, work on his behalf to secure terms with sponsors. "Hopefully in the near future, we'll get some big sponsors," Solis said. "It's too bad this didn't come around 50 years ago?"

Flores to ride at Ascot and miss days

David Flores, who through Sunday was tied for the lead with Valenzuela in the jockey's standings with 10 winners, will miss three days of racing this week to travel to England for Saturday's Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse. He has one mount on Wednesday and will return on Sunday, according to his agent, Jim Pegram.

The Shergar Cup is a jockey's competition featuring rides from Britain and Ireland competition against a team from the Rest of the World. Flores, who won two races at the 2001 Shergar Cup, will captain the Rest of the World team.