07/22/2003 11:00PM

Bullet earns 'Blues' a shot

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DEL MAR, Calif. - After Bluesthestandard was disqualified from third to sixth for causing interference in the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 6, trainer Ted H. West was prepared to wait for the $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap on Aug. 17 with the former claimer turned multiple stakes winner.

The plans changed last week when Bluesthestandard ripped off a half-mile workout that left West and owner Jeffrey Sengara looking toward Saturday's $200,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar.

Officially, Bluesthestandard worked a half-mile in 49 seconds last Saturday. West clocked the 6-year-old in 45.80 seconds. Regardless of which time is correct, one thing is certain: West is ecstatic about Bluesthestandard's condition.

"We didn't intend to run, but after I worked him the other day, he worked so good on the track and he's bounced back so well after the work, we reconsidered our plan," West said.

Bluesthestandard ripped off five consecutive wins last winter and spring, ranging in value from a $50,000 claimer to the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Since Memorial Day, though, he has suffered two losses, finishing second in the Lone Star Park Handicap on May 26 and then sixth in the Triple Bend. West dismissed the recent loss.

"I don't think he's as effective at Hollywood Park, which he shares with a lot of horses," West said.

The recent losses make Saturday's race over six furlongs a vital start for the horse. Bluesthestandard faces the toughest field of his career and the best sprint field assembled in California this year. He faces 2003 stakes winners Avanzado, Beau's Town, Captain Squire, Giovannetti, and Kona Gold, as well as Disturbingthepeace, Medecis, Radiata, and Rushin' to Altar.

A victory could give Sengara and West reason to consider the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, and the purse would help finance the steep supplemental entry fee.

"If we win this race, we'll consider it," West said. "This will be an important step for him. I'm really surprised how well he bounced off the Triple Bend."

Strong fields for turf stakes

The two Grade 1 turf stakes this weekend will draw outstanding fields.

Saturday's $400,000 John Mabee Handicap for fillies and mares may include as many as four Grade 1 winners - Tates Creek (2003 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap), Golden Apples (2002 Beverly D. Stakes), Dublino (2002 Del Mar Oaks), and possibly Voodoo Dancer (2001 Garden City BC Handicap). The other probables include the stakes winners Megahertz, Magic Mission, and Voz de Colegiala.

Voodoo Dancer is also being considered for the $500,000 Diana Handicap at Saratoga on Saturday. If she starts in the Mabee, run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, it would mark her eighth career appearance in California.

Last month, Voodoo Dancer won her third stakes in California in the $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Golden Apples, the champion turf female of 2002, is making her first start of the year. She underwent surgery to have bone chips removed from her ankles last December and has been in regular training since the spring.

Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap features two older horses who ran outstanding races at Hollywood Park - Redattore and Special Ring. They will face Suances, Decarchy, Mister Acpen, Irish Warrior, and Thady Quill.

Redattore won the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile in May. He was a candidate for the Hollywood Gold Cup until he was sidelined by a bruised foot. Special Ring was second to Redattore in the Shoemaker and finished second to the unbeaten Candy Ride in the American Handicap on July 4.

Program to offset insurance costs

Del Mar and the Thoroughbred Owners of California have launched a program to pay owners $100 per starter during the current meeting as a way offset escalating costs for workers' compensation insurance.

The program will be largely funded through the California Marketing Committee and stabling and vanning funds, which are derived from a portion of offtrack betting handle, according to TOC president John Van de Kamp.

"I think this will work for the meeting without doing damage to the meeting, the purse structure," Van de Kamp said.

Trainers have complained of rising costs for workers' compensation insurance, which has forced them to raise daily rates charged to owners. The problem affects businesses throughout California but hits particularly hard in a high-risk business such as racing. The rising costs have led a few outfits to leave racing or relocate to other states.

Trainers carry policies for workers' compensation insurance to cover backstretch workers and jockeys during races. The rates to cover jockeys average $70 to $80 per mount, according to Ed Halpern, the executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

The $100 will go directly to owners, who will then be billed by their trainers.

"The $100 won't keep some people in or out of the business, but it shows we're moving forward," Halpern said. "This shows that out of concern and need there is compromise. We need to make the business cheaper for owners. It's not a lot, but it's symbolic."

Gomez ordered into drug program

Garrett Gomez, who has ridden more than 2,000 winners, has been ordered into a drug diversion program as a result of his arrest July 3 in Temecula, Calif.

Earlier this month, Gomez was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. The latter two charges have been dropped, pending proof that Gomez has enrolled in the drug diversion program by Aug. 20.

Gomez, who has a history of substance-abuse problems, has not ridden since last fall. In June, Gomez approached California Horse Racing Board officials about a potential return to riding, but he did not file an application.

Ocean Terrace back in training

Ocean Terrace, who won the El Camino Real Derby in March and was announced as retired in May, has resumed training with Bob Hess Jr. at Del Mar.

Hess said the shin problems that led to the retirement announcement in the spring are no longer a concern.

"He's completely sound now," Hess said. "I'm very excited about this horse."

Owned by the Fog City Stable of Bill Bianco and David Shimmon, Ocean Terrace won 3 of 5 starts and $160,400, including the Grade 3 El Camino Real at Golden Gate Fields. He was later ninth in the Santa Anita Derby and was eased in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.