03/23/2004 1:00AM

Cassidy has monster to beat Megahertz

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap will not arrive soon enough for trainer Jim Cassidy and the 4-year-old filly Katdogawn.

"I just hope we get to Saturday without her killing herself; she's just a monster," Cassidy said.

She will need to be one in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Megahertz was assigned 120-pound high weight, and class handicapping suggests the Bobby Frankel-trained Grade 1 winner is the one to beat.

A confident Cassidy believes otherwise. "I'm the one to beat," he said.

Katdogawn has finished first or second in her last eight starts, which include two Grade 2 wins. The 4-year-old filly's most recent effort, second in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap on "good" turf, was better than it looked.

"She hated the ground, had sinus trouble early in the week, and still got up for second," Cassidy said.

Frankel is expected to start both Megahertz and Mandela, 113 pounds. Fun House was assigned 118 pounds; Katdogawn was assigned 117.

Cassidy said he will run Moulin de Mougins, seventh in the Grade 3 Baldwin in his U.S. debut, in the $150,000 La Puente Stakes April 10. Minor stakes winner Unrivalled will skip the La Puente, Cassidy said.

"I have to give him a little time. He has a lot of ability, but he's a little light in the brain," Cassidy said.

Overnight stakes winner Ticker Tape will run April 11 in the $150,000 Providencia for 3-year-old fillies, Cassidy said.

'Flag' flies after he was gelded

As heavy mist fell Tuesday morning at Santa Anita, trainer David Bernstein pondered the possibility of a wet track when Unfurl the Flag runs 6 1/2 furlongs Sunday in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap.

"It would be just too damned bad, wouldn't it?" Bernstein said facetiously, knowing that a wet track would benefit Unfurl the Flag. His 1:20.11 time in a two-other-than allowance Feb. 21 was the fastest seven furlongs at Santa Anita since Spectacular Bid went seven furlongs in 1:20 on Jan. 5, 1980.

But was Unfurl the Flag's time legitimate? The track condition was fast, yet it was during a period of wet weather, and there was plenty of moisture in the track. The forecast Sunday is for a fast track. Bernstein credits Unfurl the Flag's improvement to being gelded four starts back, prior to his Nov. 22 race.

"He was getting hard on himself, and we didn't want to wreck him," Bernstein said.

Since being gelded, Unfurl the Flag has won both his starts on dirt, earning a 103 Beyer Figure Dec. 21, and a 111 last out. Mike Smith has been the regular rider for Unfurl the Flag, but he will stick with Bluesthestandard in the Potrero Grande.

Tyler Baze will ride Unfurl the Flag, and he was up for a half-mile workout on Tuesday.

"I warned [Baze] not to go in 45, so he went in 50," Bernstein said. The recorded time was 50.20 seconds.

Expected runners for the Potrero Grande are Bluesthestandard, 118; Midas Eyes, 117; Watchem Smokey, 115; McCann's Mojave, 114; and Unfurl the Flag, 114.

Good works by Baffert prospects

Bob Baffert can hardly contain himself, for good reason. Baffert has emerged with leading candidates for the Kentucky Derby, and both worked Tuesday at Santa Anita. Louisiana Derby winner Wimbledon worked five furlongs in 59.20; San Felipe Stakes winner Preachinatthebar worked a half-mile in 46.80.

"This is the most exciting time of the year, when you have 3-year-olds that are legit," Baffert said. "The training wheels are off, and they're handling it good."

Wimbledon, expected to start as the second favorite behind Lion Heart in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, was working Tuesday for the second time since his 2 1/4-length win March 7 in the Louisiana Derby. He blew past a workmate and was strong to the finish.

Preachinatthebar was working for the first time since his nose win March 14 in the San Felipe.

"He finally figured out what he's supposed to be doing," Baffert said. "He's got good tracking speed."

Preachinatthebar worked by himself and galloped out five furlongs in 59. He is scheduled to run April 10 in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.

* The 6 1/2-furlong San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday is not expected to affect the Kentucky Derby chase, but it may shed light on the form of upstart Rock Hard Ten. Jimmy's Instinct finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Rock Hard Ten in a mile allowance March 3, and he cuts back to one turn in the San Pedro. Mike Smith rides Jimmy's Instinct, whose San Pedro rivals are expected to include San Miguel winner Hosco and Wimplestiltskin.

* Two other Santa Anita Derby probables worked Tuesday morning. Imperialism, winner of the San Rafael Stakes last out, worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:00.80. At Santa Anita, Lucky Pulpit worked six furlongs in 1:14.80. Runner-up to St Averil on Jan. 17 in the Santa Catalina, Lucky Pulpit entrapped his epiglottis while finishing eighth in the San Rafael.

* Laffit Pincay and Eddie Delahoussaye will be honored April 5 at a charity dinner benefiting the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, which supports backstretch workers and their families. The California Thoroughbred Trainers association is putting on the event. Information on tickets and contributions can be obtained by calling the CTT at (626) 447-2145.