06/09/2005 11:00PM

Buzzards Bay points to Affirmed 'Cap

Buzzards Bay will work Monday for an expected start in the Affirmed.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Buzzards Bay, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April and the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, will make his next start in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park next Saturday.

Bill Bianco III, the son of co-owner Bill Bianco and the racing manager for Fog City Stable, said Buzzards Bay will use the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap over 1 1/16 miles as a prep for the $400,000 Swaps Stakes on July 9.

"It will be a good catalyst for bigger things," Bianco said.

Buzzards Bay is scheduled to work Monday at Santa Anita under jockey Victor Espinoza. "If he comes out of this work like he did his last, we'll be on all cylinders," Bianco said.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Buzzards Bay pulled a 30-1 upset in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9, racing near the front throughout 1 1/8 miles.

Sent off at 46-1 in the Kentucky Derby, Buzzards Bay was wide throughout. He made a strong move on the final turn, but could not sustain the rally, finishing 6 1/4 lengths behind Giacomo.

Buzzards Bay may have to face a promising group of late-blooming 3-year-olds in the Affirmed, including El Roblar, Indian Ocean, and Surf Cat.

Ace Blue leads Californian field

The Affirmed is one of three stakes Saturday, joined by the $250,000 Californian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on the main track and the $75,000 Quicken Tree Stakes for statebreds over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

The field for the Grade 2 Californian will include Ace Blue, the winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 14. He was subsequently purchased by Sid and Jenny Craig and turned over to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Friday, Ace Blue worked six furlongs in 1:13.20 under jockey David Flores. Hollendorfer, based in northern California, attended the workout and said he considers Saturday's race a distance test.

"There may be some question about a mile and an eighth, but I think he will handle it from what I've seen in his training," he said.

Ace Blue has remained at Hollywood Park at John Sadler's stable since the Mervyn LeRoy. Hollendorfer said he did not want to disrupt the 5-year-old's schedule in advance of the Californian.

"I left him here because, in my experience, it's better to train over the Hollywood Park track," he said.

The Californian is a prep to the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup over 1 1/4 miles on the main track July 9. Hollendorfer said the Californian will determine whether Ace Blue goes in the Gold Cup or waits for the San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar in late July.

Allowance winners target stakes

Steal Your Thunder and Avanti Avanti, the winners of allowance races for 3-year-olds Thursday, are likely to return in the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 20.

Both were tested in Thursday's one-mile turf races, rallying from off the pace to score narrow wins.

Steal Your Thunder ($14), trained by Carla Gaines for Warren Williamson, closed from sixth to beat In Excelsis by a nose, finishing in 1:35.38.

"I was worried there wouldn't be any pace," Gaines said. "As it turned out, it went perfect. I think his best distance will be farther."

In the second division, Avanti Avanti ($20.80) closed from sixth to finish a neck in front of Cammies Future. Avanti Avanti was timed in 1:35.68.

Ron McAnally, who trains In Excelsis and Avanti Avanti, said he was impressed with In Excelsis's race even though the colt was beaten.

"He's coming around," McAnally said. "If we can get him built up and get some weight on him, I think he'll be a different horse."

Steal Your Thunder and Avanti Avanti have yet to be tried in stakes. In Excelsis was fifth in two stakes in Ireland last year, including the Group 1 National Stakes. Earlier this year, he was seventh in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes over a wet-fast track at Santa Anita.

McAnally said he is hoping that Del Mar officials make the decision to split the Oceanside Stakes, which has been run in divisions annually since 1989. That way he will not have to run his two hopefuls together.

Board okays track request

The California Horse Racing Board has approved a request from Hollywood Park to allow horses with common ownership to run uncoupled in Grade 1 races. The change went into effect for Saturday's Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap. Pellegrino and Sarafan, both owned by Gary Tanaka, were listed in the program as separate betting interests.

There are four more Grade 1 races affected by the decision - the American Oaks, Triple Bend Handicap, and Vanity Handicap on July 3, and the Hollywood Gold Cup.

"Fans want larger fields and more betting interests and this accomplishes that," said racing secretary Martin Panza.

* Singletary, the winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile and fourth in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile here on May 30, worked a half-mile in 47.80 seconds. Singletary, 5, will make his next start in the $250,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile on turf at Churchill Downs on July 4.