04/16/2005 12:00AM

Canani hit with complaint by California racing board


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board announced Saturday that it has filed a complaint against trainer Julio Canani regarding his actions in the days before Sweet Catomine finished fifth as the 4-5 favorite in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. The board alleges that Canani has violated three of its rules.

In a terse two-paragraph statement, the board alleges that Canani was in violation of rules pertaining to a trainer insuring the condition of his horses, conduct detrimental to horse racing, and grounds for refusal of a license. The statement did not elaborate on the charges.

Last Monday, the board filed a complaint against Marty Wygod, who owns Sweet Catomine, and Dean Kerkhoff, a van driver who transported Sweet Catomine to a veterinary clinic. Wygod was cited for allegedly making misleading comments about the condition of Sweet Catomine before the race, and he and Kerkhoff were cited for allegedly falsifying paperwork when Sweet Catomine was transferred from Santa Anita to the clinic and back. At the time, a board review determined that Canani had not violated any racing rules, board spokesman Mike Marten said on Tuesday.

Canani did not return a phone call on Saturday seeking comment regarding the complaint. No hearing date has been set in his case. Wygod and Kerkhoff are scheduled to appear before the stewards at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

In the week before the Santa Anita Derby, Sweet Catomine was transported to the Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Los Olivos, Calif., to undergo treatment after bleeding in a workout on April 3. Sweet Catomine was away from Santa Anita for nearly 48 hours.

During discussions with the media in the days leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, Canani made no mention of Sweet Catomine's absence from his stable.

A board review of the matter determined that Canani was not involved with the shipping of Sweet Catomine to Alamo Pintado, Marten said Tuesday.

"I did not have anything to do with it," Canani said at the time. "[Wygod] wanted to send her over there, and he talked to the veterinarian. I didn't talk to anybody."

Canani no longer trains Sweet Catomine. She was transferred to John Shirreffs last Monday.

The board directed all inquiries into the matter to deputy attorney general James Ahern, who will represent the racing board.

Chinese Dragon last to first

Chinese Dragon overcame a slow pace to win Saturday's $109,800 La Puente Stakes for his fourth consecutive victory. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Chinese Dragon rallied from last in a field of five despite early fractions of 49.60 seconds and 1:12.95 in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Chinese Dragon ($2.80) won by a length over Eastern Sand, with Shamoan third. They were the first three finishers in the Pasadena Stakes on March 19.

Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Chinese Dragon covered the distance in 1:48.02. He has won 4 of 5 starts and $162,190.

* Jockey Patrick Valenzuela won four races for the second consecutive day on Friday and had a nearly insurmountable lead in the jockey standings. Monday is the final day of the winter-spring meeting. Through Friday, Valenzuela had 67 winners, 10 more than second-place Rene Douglas, who won three races on Friday. Tyler Baze was third with 55 wins.

* The Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting opens on Friday with an evening program. The feature race on the program is the $75,000 Harry Henson Stakes for 3-year-olds over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

* An earthquake centered in Wheeler Ridge, Calif., north of Los Angeles, was felt at Santa Anita on Saturday shortly before the first race. The earthquake measured 5.1 on the Richter scale.