03/17/2006 12:00AM

Cambiocorsa able to hold on by a head

Benoit & Associates
Cambiocorsa, shown winning a February allowance race, is now 6 for 6 on Santa Anita's hillside turf course after taking Friday's Irish O'Brien Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The queen of the hill is not about to abdicate the throne.

Cambiocorsa was pressured sharply early, and received a formidable challenge late, but she held on tenaciously to capture Friday's $134,125 Irish O'Brien Stakes at Santa Anita.

The victory was the sixth in as many starts for Cambiocorsa on the 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf course. She is 0 for 5 in all other starts.

Cambiocorsa ($3.20) beat late-running Somethinaboutlaura by a head, with Cyber Slew another four lengths back in third. Sterling Cat, who pressured Cambiocorsa through fractions of 21.77 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 42.80 seconds for a half-mile, faded to finish last in the six-horse field.

The Irish O'Brien, for California-bred female sprinters, was run on a firm course, but it began to steadily rain about an hour before the race. Considering that, the final time of 1:12.10 was excellent. Cambiocorsa showed the effects of the race, though; she was breathing heavily when she got to the winner's circle.

"The going is a little soft," said Jon Court, who has ridden Cambiocorsa to four victories over this course. "She saved enough to hang on and win."

Doug O'Neill trains the 4-year-old Cambiocorsa for owners Lee and Ty Leatherman.

Balance may skip prep

David Hofmans, the trainer of Balance, said he is not sure if the nation's leading 3-year-old filly will race once more before the Kentucky Oaks on May 5. Balance was a powerful winner of last weekend's Santa Anita Oaks. She returned to the track to train for the first time since then on Friday at Hollywood Park.

"She's either going to run in the Ashland, or not at all," Hofmans said. The Grade 1 Ashland is April 8 at Keeneland. "I want to train her for another week before deciding."

Hofmans also trains the improving Sacred Light, who finished second to Brother Derek in the Santa Catalina Stakes and will make his next start in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

Mandella has Tokyo City covered

Trainer Richard Mandella has four horses under consideration for the Tokyo City Handicap on April 1, one of whom, Spellbinder, worked an easy five furlongs in 1:04 on Friday morning at Santa Anita.

"I've got him, El Roblar, Congrats, and Minister Eric for that race," Mandella said. He said Congrats is also being considered for the Oaklawn Handicap on April 8, and the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Handicap at Keeneland on April 15.

Minister Eric was scratched from a race last week, but already has come back to work.

"He just bruised a foot the day before the race. He must have stepped on a rock on the road after they graded it before the rain," Mandella said. "We poulticed the foot, and he came right back and worked fine."

Los Alamitos project progressing

Architectural plans that outline the proposed expansion of Los Alamitos were being informally revealed to trainers and owners at Santa Anita on Friday morning by Brad McKenzie, a former Los Alamitos executive who is now serving as a consultant to the track.

Ed Allred, who owns Los Alamitos, and Mike Pegram, the prominent horse owner, desire to expand Los Alamitos from a facility primarily for Quarter Horses to one that could accommodate regular Thoroughbred racing, with a one-mile main track and a turf course. The track currently is five furlongs in circumference. The architectural plans were designed by Parsky Associates, which designed Lone Star Park.

Interest in the Los Alamitos project is keen because of the uncertainty over the future of Hollywood Park, whose owners, the Bay Meadows Land Company, have said the property will be developed in less than three years if California does not enact legislation to give racetracks alternate forms of gaming.

McKenzie said Los Alamitos is currently going over the plans with Cypress and Los Alamitos, the two cities in which the track sits. After those concerns are addressed, he said Los Alamitos will be ready to move forward with its development.

"By July, we're going to go forward to the racing industry and say, 'Everything been's finalized. Tell us what you want to do, and when you want to do it,' " McKenzie said. "Basically we're going to say if you want to move forward, tell us. But in order for us to move forward, we're going to need a commitment from the industry."

Intercontinental report due this week

A report into the belated Lasix injection given to Intercontinental prior to last summer's Palomar Handicap at Del Mar is scheduled to be presented to the California Horse Racing Board this week by Scott Chaney, a steward who was given a leave of his post at Santa Anita the past two weeks to conduct an investigation.

Intercontinental was given a Lasix shot inside the four-hour cutoff period for the Palomar. She subsequently won. Although a veterinarian was fined for the infraction in October, questions have been raised in recent weeks over whether security officials, and Del Mar's stewards, were lax in processing the information in a timely fashion; for instance, should Intercontinental have been scratched?

Among the issues Chaney is expected to address is what the stewards knew, and when they knew it. Chaney was not a steward at Del Mar last summer. One of the Del Mar stewards was George Slender, who is one of the three stewards at Santa Anita this winter, along with Chaney. Zack Soto has filled in as a steward the past two weeks during Chaney's absence.

Elusive Diva looking for a spot

Elusive Diva was not entered in the Flower Girl Handicap on Saturday at Santa Anita, but trainer Mark Glatt said she will run soon.

"We're aiming for the Humana Distaff," Glatt said of the Grade 1 sprint at Churchill Downs for older fillies and mares on Kentucky Derby Day, May 6. "We're just not sure on what happens before then. We want to run her once, but we haven't decided on a race yet."

* Bordonaro, who most recently won the Sunshine Millions Sprint, breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds on Friday at Santa Anita for trainer Bill Spawr, who said the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, the Count Fleet at Oaklawn, and the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland are under consideration for Bordonaro's next start.

* The stakes-winning turf mare Moscow Burning worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:04.20 for trainer Jim Cassidy.