01/13/2003 1:00AM

Calkins Road will miss Millions


ARCADIA, Calif. - Calkins Road, the top California-bred 3-year-old of 2002, will miss the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 25 due to an infection in a foot, trainer John Shirreffs said on Sunday.

Shirreffs said the infection has kept the 4-year-old Calkins Road from training during the last week. Shirreffs was uncertain how much time Calkins Road will need before he can resume serious training, but said the $400,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita on Feb. 1 was an unlikely return start.

"It depends on how long it takes to abscess," Shirreffs said. "I tried to train him through it and it didn't work, so I had to back off."

Calkins Road won two $250,000 stakes for statebreds last year - the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park in April against 3-year-olds and the California Cup Classic against older horses at Santa Anita in November.

Following the latter race, Calkins Road was being pointed for the inaugural Sunshine Millions Classic until the foot infection surfaced 10 days ago.

The absence of Calkins Road is a setback for the California-bred contingent in the Classic, which will be run at Gulfstream Park at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

The Classic is the richest of the eight races in the Sunshine Millions, which comprises four races at both Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita for California-breds and Florida-breds. The eight-race program is worth $3.6 million.

Each Sunshine Millions race is limited to 12 starters and is designed to attract six starters from each state-bred program. If a state does not provide six entrants, the statebred program of the host track can add more starters.

Despite the absence of Calkins Road, Dave Bailey, Gulfstream's racing secretary, said he still expects six California-breds starters in the Classic: Continental Red, Gobi Dan, Grey Memo, Hot Market, Lennyfromalibu, and Slippery When Bet.

The Florida-bred probables are Best of the Rest, Booklet, Mayakovsky, The Judge Sez Who, Saint Marden, and either Western Pride or Sir Bear. Mayakovsky and Western Pride, while based in Southern California, are Florida-breds.

No immediate plan for Vindication

Vindication, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park last October and the leading contender for the 2-year-old male championship of 2002, worked a half-mile in 49.60 seconds on Sunday.

He appeared on the racetrack after the 9:15 a.m. renovation break and worked under exercise rider Dana Barnes. Vindication appeared to be light in weight, but trainer Bob Baffert said he was satisfied with the colt's condition.

"This is the heaviest he's been," Baffert said. "That's him."

Unbeaten in four starts, Vindication is not being prepared for a specific race, Baffert said.

"I don't have any clues," Baffert said when asked in which race Vindication would return. "He doesn't need the practice."

Domestic Dispute heads Catalina

The first major 3-year-old stakes of the meet for Santa Anita Derby hopefuls is Saturday's $150,000 Santa Catalina Stakes.

The Santa Catalina Stakes is run at 1 1/16 miles, and the probables are D's Bertrando, Domestic Dispute, Granny's Car, Nation Wide News, Our Bobby V., Robledo, and Scrimshaw.

Domestic Dispute, who finished third in the Hollywood Futurity but was placed second via disqualification, figures to be well bet. The Baffert-trained Domestic Dispute worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on Sunday. The move equaled the fastest of 16 works at the distance.

Robledo breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Sunday. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Robledo will make his stakes debut in the Santa Catalina.

D's Bertrando, seventh as the favorite in the seven-furlong California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 26, worked six furlongs in 1:13 on Sunday.

Trainer Jeff Bonde said D's Bertrando emerged from his recent loss with a bruised foot.

"He ran horribly," Bonde said. "He's had two good works since that race. We've always thought this horse would route. He finishes strong."

The Santa Catalina field will not include Hell Cat. Following a half-mile workout in 47.80 seconds on Sunday, Hell Cat was found to have suffered an undisclosed injury, according to trainer Jack Carava. Hell Cat was stakes-placed at Hollywood Park and Fairplex Park last year.

Trainer Bobby Frankel will not have a starter in the Santa Catalina. He has two promising 3-year-olds - Empire Maker and Ghostzapper - but both are recovering from the effects of recent illness, Frankel said.

Empire Maker, third in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct in November, is being pointed for the $75,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 7.

Ghostzapper was an impressive maiden winner at Hollywood Park in November, but finished fourth in an allowance race at Santa Anita Dec. 26. Frankel said that Ghostzapper is not in serious training after having spiked a temperature.

La Brea winner Got Koko returns

The Santa Catalina is the first of four stakes at Santa Anita during a racing week that continues through Monday, Martin Luther King Day.

On Sunday, Got Koko, the upset winner of the La Brea Stakes Dec. 28, starts in the $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. She will face Adoration, Bare Necessities, Bella Bellucci, Glia, Ile de France, and Ms. Louisett.

There are two stakes on Monday - the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs and the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.

Puxa Saco, the winner of the Anoakia Stakes and Moccasin Stakes in the fall, and Elloluv, the upset winner of the Hollywood Starlet Stakes last month, head the Santa Ynez field, which also will include No Love Song and Watching You.

The Tin Man, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park last October, heads the San Marcos field. He faces Grammarian, Harrisand, Hataab, Johar, National Anthem, and T.H. Lear.

Johar won the Hollywood Derby on Dec. 1, while Grammarian is coming off a win in the San Gabriel Handicap here on Dec. 29.

Derby dreams for Drysdale?

Trainer Neil Drysdale won the 2000 Kentucky Derby with Fusaichi Pegasus and may be back on the Triple Crown trail this year with Ministers Wild Cat, an impressive maiden winner on Saturday.

Ministers Wild Cat, owned by Marjorie and Irving Cowan, won a seven-furlong maiden race by 7 1/2 lengths in 1:22.57. The race was his second career start, following a runner-up finish behind Southern Image on Dec. 26.

Drysdale had no immediate plans for Ministers Wild Cat, but his local options are limited. Drysdale can hope for an allowance race to fill in a few weeks, or try the obvious upcoming stakes - the Sham Stakes or the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1.

"We'll just have to see what comes up," Drysdale said.

Ministers Wild Cat is a son of Deputy Minister and Hollywood Wildcat, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1993, making him a half-brother to 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant.

Still no Gomez at Santa Anita

Despite saying in December that he was preparing to return to Southern California after a brief hiatus, jockey Garrett Gomez has yet to ride at the Santa Anita meet.

Gomez, 35, last rode in Southern California last October. At the time, he said he was taking a break for personal reasons. His friends said his frustration at losing top mounts such as Golden Apples and Momentum earlier in the year was part of the reason for his absence.

Gomez later surfaced at Sunland Park, near El Paso, Texas where he quickly took a commanding lead in the jockey standings during the fall.

A week before the Santa Anita meet began on Dec. 26, Gomez said he was ready to return to Los Angeles. He was named to ride one horse on the first weekend of the Santa Anita meet, but was removed from the mount at scratch time. He reportedly didn't travel to Los Angeles to spend time with his family during the Christmas holidays.

Gomez hasn't ridden at Sunland Park in recent weeks, but has remained in the El Paso area, according to friends in Southern California.

Gomez hasn't been in contact with his California agent, Michelle Barsotti.

In recent weeks, he hasn't returned repeated phone calls placed to his mobile phone, including one on Sunday.

- Jockey Matt Garcia has been suspended for three days for causing interference aboard Nlotsabutter in the eighth race last Friday. Nlotsabutter finished sixth in the maiden claiming sprint. The suspension runs from Friday through Sunday.