02/25/2002 1:00AM

Carter is next for Squirtle


ARCADIA, Calif. - Squirtle Squirt, the champion sprinter of 2001, is being pointed for the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 13, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

A 4-year-old, has made one start this year, finishing second to Snow Ridge in the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 27. Last year, Squirtle Squirt won two stakes in New York - the King's Bishop at Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park.

The $350,000 Carter Handicap is run over seven furlongs on the same day as the Wood Memorial, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby.

Last Monday, Squirtle Squirt was awarded the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter for 2001, beating out Xtra Heat for the title.

Siphonic on schedule for San Felipe

Siphonic, California's leading contender for the Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Saturday at Hollywood Park. Afterward, trainer David Hofmans pronounced Siphonic on schedule for the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 17.

The winner of two major stakes last year, Siphonic has run once this year, finishing second to Labamta Babe after a poor start in the Santa Catalina Stakes on Jan. 19. The following month his training was plagued by interruptions. Siphonic emerged from the Santa Catalina Stakes with a sore neck caused by the stumble at the start. He worked once in early February and then spiked a temperature in mid-February that delayed another workout until Saturday.

Hofmans said Siphonic will have three more workouts before the San Felipe, a leading prep to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.

"I've built in some time for flexibility along the way," Hofmans said. "I want to see a strong finish in the San Felipe and that he comes out of it good."

The San Felipe Stakes has played a pivotal role in the Triple Crown in the last two years. In 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus won the San Felipe Stakes and later the Kentucky Derby.

Last year, Point Given won the San Felipe Stakes, lost the Kentucky Derby as the favorite, but rebounded in the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Last week, Point Given was named Horse of the Year for 2001.

Joey Franco sidelined with injury

Joey Franco, another promising 3-year-old trained by Hofmans, has been sidelined with injury. Following a victory against California-breds in an allowance race on Feb. 15, Joey Franco was diagnosed with a stress fracture in a foreleg. Hofmans said Joey Franco will be out for three months, which eliminates any hopes for a start in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-old Cal-breds at Hollywood Park in late April.

"It's a freaky thing," Hofmans said. "We were looking for things to do with him."

Val Royal may not go in Kilroe

Val Royal and Irish Prize, two of the nation's top turf milers, share highweight of 123 pounds for Saturday's $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile, but the participation of Val Royal is uncertain, trainer Julio Canani said.

Canani said he wanted to discuss the race with owner David Milch before finalizing plans. Both horses are being pointed for the $2 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 23.

Val Royal and Irish Prize were first and fourth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Mile last October. Their careers have gone in different directions in the last four months.

Val Royal has not started, while Irish Prize has developed into the top turf horse of the Santa Anita meeting. He won the San Gabriel Handicap by a head on Dec. 30 and followed with a nose win in the San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on Jan. 21.

Stevens will ride Werblin in San Rafael

Gary Stevens has picked up the mount on Eduardo Inda-trained Werblin for Saturday's San Rafael Stakes for 3-year-olds, replacing Corey Nakatani. That was part of a coast-to-coast double on Monday for Stevens, who also picked up the mount on Nick Zito-trained High Star for next month's Florida Derby.

The $200,000, one-mile San Rafael is a key prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Came Home, the winner of the Hopeful Stakes last August and the San Vicente Stakes in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 2, will be favored. Others in the field are Easy Grades, Fonz's, and Pelirrojo.

Drysdale's new prospect from Japan

Trainer Neil Drysdale is back on the Kentucky Derby trail with another colt with Japanese connections. Last Friday, Sunday Break, a Gone West colt bred in Japan, won an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles for his second consecutive win. Ridden by Gary Stevens, Sunday Break stalked Raven Power to early stretch before pulling away to win by two lengths in 1:43. "It worked out very well," Drysdale said.

Two years ago, Drysdale won the Kentucky Derby with Fusaichi Pegasus, who was owned by Japanese resident Fusao Sekiguchi. Sunday Break is owned by his breeder, Kodi Maeda.

Sunday Break is expected to return in a stakes through Drysdale has not specified a race. He said a decision will be made later this week.

Sprint stars work

Two of the nation's best sprinters, and an intriguing horse who will challenge them in Sunday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap, all worked Monday morning in preparation for the Grade 1, seven-furlong race.

D'wildcat and Ceeband have contrasting styles, but had something in common at Santa Anita, where earned recorded best-of-the-morning drills. D'wildcat zipped four furlongs in 46.40 seconds, the best time of 26 at the distance, while Ceeband flew through six furlongs in 1:10.40, the best of 22 at the distance. "He worked phenomenal," said Larry Benavidez, the top assistant to Ceeband's trainer, John Sadler.

The speedy D'wildcat has not raced since romping by 10 1/2 lengths in the Swale Stakes one year ago at Gulfstream Park for trainer Bob Hess Jr. Ceeband, a late-running sprinter, finished third to Snow Ridge and Squirtle Squirt last month in the six-furlong Palos Verdes Handicap.

Among those who will challenge Ceeband and D'wildcat is Aldebaran, who will be moving to the dirt for the first time after nine starts on turf. A son of Mr. Prospector, he won the Nassau Handicap at Belmont Park in October, then was third to his Bobby Frankel-trained stablemate Denon in the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25, his last start. Frankel scratched Aldebaran from a turf allowance race over the weekend in favor of the San Carlos. On Monday at Hollywood Park, Aldebaran worked five furlongs in 1:00.80.

Apprentice Trujillo out for a month

Apprentice jockey Elvis Trujillo is expected to be out for a month after being diagnosed with a fractured wrist caused by an accident in the paddock before Thursday's eighth race.

Trujillo was unseated in the paddock aboard Richillini. Trujillo was taken for X-rays on Thursday evening, which did not reveal the fracture. A second trip to the doctor on Friday revealed the extent of the injury.

Trujillo has won 14 races at the current meeting. His apprentice status was scheduled to end in mid-April, but is expected to be extended until mid-May.

* Mike Marlow, a former assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, saddled his first winner on Saturday when Jeremy's Quest scored in the eighth race. Marlow worked for Lukas in California and New York during the time when the stable campaigned 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic. Marlow began his own stable late last year after Lukas reorganized his operation nationally. Jeremy's Quest was claimed by Bill Spawr, who won a five-way shake. The claim left Marlow with one horse in his stable.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman