02/16/2008 1:00AM

Champs Elysees going to Big Cap


ARCADIA, Calif. - Champs Elysees, the winner of the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 19, will make his synthetic-track debut in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap March 1, trainer Bobby Frankel said on Saturday.

Champs Elysees has won 3 of 13 starts and $400,647 racing on turf in Europe and the United States. Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Champs Elysees has won two graded stakes and placed second or third in six other graded stakes.

"I've got nothing to lose," Frankel said of the decision to try the Big Cap.

Earlier this year, Frankel said he considers Champs Elysees a candidate for the major turf stakes in the second half of the year.

Champs Elysees is the latest addition to a Big Cap field that has 12 other probable starters: Air Commander, Awesome Gem, Big Booster, Celtic Dreamin, Go Between, Great Hunter, Heatseeker, Monterey Jack, Monzante, Seminole Native, Student Council, and Tiago.

The race lacks a standout. Defending champion Lava Man recently returned to training after a winter break of nearly three months.

Air Commander won the San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 12. Go Between, Celtic Dreamin, and Seminole Native were the first three finishers of the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 26. Monterey Jazz, Tiago, Monzante and Great Hunter were the first four finishers in the Strub Stakes on Feb. 2. Heatseeker, Awesome Gem, Big Booster and Student Council were the second- through fifth-place finishers in the San Antonio Handicap Feb. 9.

Champs Elysees is by Danehill out of Hasili, one of the most prolific producers in Thoroughbred racing in recent years. Champs Elysees is a full brother to the champion Banks Hill ($1,824,008), Cacique ($1,462,331) and Intercontinental ($2,052,463), and a half-brother to Heat Haze ($1,183,696).

Bejarano thinking of staying

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, second in the standings at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, is strongly considering staying in California on a year-round basis, he said on Saturday.

Bejarano, 25, and his agent, Joe Ferrer, are discussing whether to spend the spring in Kentucky and the summer in New York, or remain in California. Saturday, Bejarano said he has not made a final decision.

"People have given me a lot of opportunities to stay here," he said. "I'm happy right now."

With consecutive runnings of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita this fall and in 2009, Ferrer is urging Bejarano to stay in California.

"I think he can be leading rider here," Ferrer said. "I think I've got him talked into staying."

One possibility is for Bejarano to follow a schedule similar to that of top jockey Garrett Gomez - ride in California from November to the end of April, and in Kentucky and New York for the rest of the year, Ferrer said.

Bejarano will ride occasionally at Keeneland in April, Ferrer said.

"There are a bunch of stakes we need to ride," he said. "I'll be there, but in and out."

Bejarano moved from Kentucky to California in late November at the suggestion of trainer Bobby Frankel.

Through Friday, Bejarano had 31 wins, second to Gomez, who led with 34 wins. Bejarano has ridden for a variety of trainers besides Frankel. He had four wins on Feb. 9, including Golden Doc A in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, for trainer Barry Abrams.

"Frankel opened the door for me," Bejarano said. "He gave me a big push."

Crossing the Line back in training

Crossing the Line, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile last summer, has returned to training after missing four months because of a bone chip in an ankle.

A 6-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding, Crossing the Line underwent surgery last September. The injury was detected shortly after the Del Mar Mile in August, which was Crossing the Line's third consecutive win since he arrived in the United States.

Owned by Richard Templer and Mary Wilson, Crossing the Line has won 5 of 6 starts and $257,168. He has been walking at a lay-up facility in nearby Bradbury, Calif., and rejoined trainer John Sadler's stable last week. Sadler delayed Crossing the Line's return to Santa Anita until the recent renovations of the synthetic main track were completed.

Sadler said that Crossing the Line will return to racing during the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

Nashoba's Key considered for Santa Margarita

Nashoba's Key, the leading older female in California, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Hollywood Park on Saturday, and is being considered for the $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 9.

Owned by Warren Williamson and trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba's Key, 5, won her first 7 starts, 5 of which were stakes, but has lost her last 2 starts, including a second in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf here on Jan. 26.

Publication retired at age 9

Publication, the winner of the Grade 2 Arlington-Washington Futurity in 2001, was retired earlier this week after finishing third in a $10,000 claiming race. A 9-year-old gelding, he ended his career with 7 wins in 28 starts and earnings of $582,694.

Owned by Mercedes Stable and trained by Vladimir Cerin for most of his career, Publication was second in such races as the 2003 Triple Bend Handicap and 2004 San Carlos Handicap and was third in the 2004 Churchill Downs Handicap.

A closer, Publication was fourth in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park, finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Johannesburg as a 103-1 outsider.

The decision to retire Publication was made after the $10,000 claiming race.

"He doesn't want to do it anymore," Cerin said. "That was his last race, win, lose or draw. He gave us a few thrills, the way he had an off-the-pace finish."

Frank the Barber out with injury

Frank the Barber, the winner of two stakes in the last six months, has been sidelined until the summer after undergoing surgery to have a bone chip removed from a knee, according to co-owner Peter Lurie.

The injury was detected after Frank the Barber finished third in the Thunder Road Handicap here on Feb. 2. Last fall, Frank the Barber won the Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park and the Garden State Handicap at Monmouth Park.