10/10/2002 12:00AM

Canani: Cup or no for Night Patrol?


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Breeders' Cup Mile must be approaching if a trainer named Canani has a turf miler worth following from California.

This year, Nick Canani, son of trainer Julio Canani, has the best prospect in the West with Night Patrol, the winner of the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last weekend.

Nick Canani, 28, has a tough act to follow. Julio Canani twice won the Oak Tree Mile and Breeders' Cup Mile in a year with the same horse. First with Silic in 1999 and then with Val Royal two years later.

Night Patrol may not run in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, Nick Canani said on Thursday. Canani and owner Jeffrey Nielsen will wait until Tuesday's pre-entry deadline before finalizing their plans.

Another option aside from the Breeders' Cup is the $500,000 Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30.

"That's tempting," Nick Canani said of the Citation. "All of his best races have been at Hollywood Park. I want to see how he feels in the next few days."

A winner of 9 of 45 starts and $639,693, Night Patrol won the Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park in May and followed that with a second to Denon in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap in June. Much of Night Patrol's success has occurred since his tactics were changed: He went from being a closer to a front-runner or stalker.

In the Oak Tree Mile, Night Patrol chased pacesetter Congaree to the final turn, and was all out through the stretch to hold off Kachamandi and Nicobar in a thrilling finish. Night Patrol was sent off at 9-1 and finished a mile on turf in 1:32.92.

"Since we changed his style, he's turned into a class horse," Canani said. "No one has given him the credit that he's turned into this caliber of horse."

Despite Canani's pride over the 6-year-old Night Patrol, he is reluctant to challenge European stars Rock of Gibraltar or Landseer, who are probables for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

This year, Night Patrol has been the most productive starter from Canani's barn, and he wants to have the 6-year-old Night Patrol for another campaign in 2003.

"I don't have one behind him," he said. "I don't go three deep. I go one deep."

Rock Opera and the Oak Tree Derby

There are only six runners expected for the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby on Sunday, which is just fine with trainer Clifford Sise.

While a small field may not make for the most interesting betting race, it helps the chances of Sise's Rock Opera, a front-runner. Winner of a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 24, Rock Opera returned to set a quick pace in the Del Mar Derby, leading to midstretch before finishing third.

The bad news is that the first two finishers of the Del Mar Derby - Inesperado and Johar - are back in the Oak Tree Derby. The good news for Sise is that there are no other pacesetters.

"Maybe I'll get a 47 [half-mile fraction]," he said. "If I see a 47, I'll get excited." Laffit Pincay Jr. rides Rock Opera.

Last spring, Rock Opera won a maiden race on the hillside turf course in his debut. "I think he'll like this course more than Del Mar," Sise said. "He trains better here."

Inesperado, a three-time stakes winner since arriving from France, will be favored in the Derby, which is run over 1 1/8 miles. Other probables include Dream Machine, Mountain Rage, and Royal Gem.

Dyna's Club won't go in Maddy

Del Mar stakes winner Dyna's Club will miss Saturday's Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap because of a bruised foot.

Trainer Ron Ellis detected the injury earlier this week after the 6-year-old Dyna's Club completed a gallop. Even though she is scheduled to be retired next year for breeding purposes, Ellis said that Dyna's Club will race again.

The front-running winner of the restricted Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 14, Dyna's Club had been pointed for the Maddy in recent weeks. Ellis is anxious to try her over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, considering her ability in turf races ranging from five furlongs to a mile.

Earlier this year, Dyna's Club was third in the five-furlong Mamzelle Stakes during Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs.

Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Dyna's Club is likely to reappear in turf stakes during the early portion of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

"She can run through February or March," Ellis said.

* Jockeys Martin Pedroza and Joe Steiner have withdrawn appeals of recent suspensions for riding infractions. Their three-day suspensions began on Friday and continue through Sunday. Tyler Baze will serve a three-day suspension for his ride aboard Rmisvesta in the seventh race on Oct. 5. Rmisvesta was disqualified from second and placed fourth for altering course without clearance. The suspension begins Wednesday and continues through Friday.

* Came Home, the winner of the Pacific Classic on Aug. 25, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.60 under jockey Mike Smith on Wednesday. A six-time stakes winner this year, he is being pointed for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

* Garrett Gomez didn't ride for the second consecutive day on Thursday. His agent, Michelle Barsotti, said he would return on Friday, but declined to reveal the cause of the absence. "It's personal," she said.