04/13/2004 11:00PM

Castledale gets green light


ARCADIA, Calif. - Castledale, the upset winner of the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, moved closer to an expected start in the Kentucky Derby with a five-furlong breeze at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

The workout was Castledale's first since the Santa Anita Derby, his first stakes win on dirt in the United States.

The time of the workout was the subject of debate. Officially, Castledale was timed in 59.60 seconds, which tied for the ninth-fastest of 43 recorded works at the distance. Trainer Jeff Mullins and co-owner Frank Lyons timed him in 58.80 seconds.

"He did it very easily," Mullins said.

Castledale worked in company with a stablemate, who started in front. "We just wanted to get some dirt in his face," Mullins said.

Last week, Mullins was guarded in his assessment of Castledale's status for the Kentucky Derby. After Wednesday's work, Mullins was making plans to run in the race. Castledale is scheduled to work six furlongs on April 24 and ship to Churchill Downs on April 28, just three days before the race.

"He's a little horse and we have to get through the works," Mullins said. "Things do happen in horse racing."

St Averil, sixth as the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby, galloped on Wednesday and is scheduled to work this weekend, trainer Rafael Becerra said. He said St Averil's participation in the Derby depends on that workout.

"I don't want to say what we'll do until I've worked him," Becerra said.

Field of lightweights

With plans for San Luis Rey Handicap winner Meteor Storm uncertain, Sunday's $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf may have a starting highweight of just 114 pounds.

The first four horses in the weights - Ballingarry, Diplomatic Bag, and Epicentre at 117 pounds and Continuously at 116 pounds - are expected to pass and run in the $350,000 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 8 or wait for other races.

Meteor Storm's status was scheduled to be determined Thursday prior to the entry deadline. Trainer Wally Dollase said he plans to walk the turf course before he makes a decision.

"If the course is good, I'll probably run," he said. "If I don't like what I'll see, I'll wait for the race at Hollywood Park. Maybe I'll like what I'll see. The horse is in great shape."

Without Meteor Storm, the probables include All the Boys, Gassan Royal, Gene de Campeao, Gigli, Rhythm Mad, Runaway Dancer, and Special Matter.

All the Boys, Gigli, Rhythm Mad, and Runaway Dance have been assigned 114 pounds.

Runaway Dancer won the Carleton Burke Handicap over 1 1/2 miles last October, but is winless in his last four starts. He finished fourth in the San Luis Rey Handicap on March 20, losing by 1 3/4 lengths to Meteor Storm.

Although Runaway Dancer has never run 1 3/4 miles, the distance does not concern trainer Dan Hendricks.

"How many horses have been a mile and three-quarters in California?" he said. "He certainly looks like he'll run all day. He can get too far back behind slow paces.

"I think he'll be right there. Things have to go just right but we've been planning on this for a long time."

Hendricks has never won the San Juan Capistrano but finished third in 1995 with Liyoun, who was beaten a length at 26-1.

Churchill trip for McCann's Mojave

McCann's Mojave, the winner of two stakes at this meeting, will make his next start in the $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap over seven furlongs on May 1, according to co-owner Mike Willman.

Trained by Leonard Dorfman, McCann's Mojave had been considered for the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for California-breds at Hollywood Park on May 24, but Willman and co-owner Nikki Hunt opted for the richer and more prestigious Churchill Downs Handicap.

The Churchill Downs Handicap is run on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby.

"It's a Grade 2, a big day, and in terms of residual value it would be a massive accomplishment if he could win it," Willman said.

McCann's Mojave, 4, has won two consecutive stakes - the Sensational Star Handicap for statebreds Feb. 14 and the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap March 28.

Dubai winners get a vacation

Pleasantly Perfect and Our New Recruit, the California-based winners on the Dubai World Cup program on March 27, will be sent to local farms in coming days for vacations.

Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of the $6 million Dubai World Cup, is booked to leave in the coming days for Farrell Jones's Thoroughbred Farm. Pleasantly Perfect will be away for two weeks.

"We just want him to get out and relax," trainer Richard Mandella said. "He looks great going out."

Our New Recruit, the winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen over six furlongs, will go to Rancho Paseana for two months, trainer John Sadler said. The long-term goal is the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park.

"I looked at the timetable to have him ready for Del Mar and I want to give him that long of a break," Sadler said. "I want him to be ready for the fall."

Excessivepleasure, who finished third in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai, may return for the Tiznow Stakes, depending on an upcoming workout, according to trainer Doug O'Neill.

Enriquez tries California again

Isaias Enriquez, who finished sixth in the standings at Sunland Park in New Mexico over the winter, has returned to Southern California after a six-month absence.

Enriquez was winless with 28 mounts during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last fall, the most recent meeting he rode in California.

Last summer at Del Mar, Enriquez won the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for California-bred 2-year-old fillies with She's Gottogetaway. At Sunland Park, Enriquez, rode 31 winners and had purse earnings of $709,453.

Friday, Enriquez has one mount, Not Half Bad in the sixth race for maiden claimers.