10/29/2004 12:00AM

Charles accepts position with Magna

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House of Fortune, winning the Hollywood BC Oaks, put in a five-furlong work Friday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ron Charles, the former chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, has joined Magna Entertainment as executive director of MEC California. Charles will oversee the company's California operations.

The announcement was made earlier this week. Charles will take the position Monday.

Charles joins Magna at a time when the company has not had an official in a dedicated position of overseeing its California operations, which includes Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita.

Jack Liebau resigned as president of Magna's California operations in late January. He also served as Santa Anita president, a position now held by Jack McDaniel.

Charles was at Lone Star Park on Friday after spending the early part of the week at the Tattersalls sale in Newmarket, England. In a brief conversation Thursday, Charles said he wants to focus on ontrack ventures with Magna.

Charles resigned as chairman of the TOC in late September, ending an 11-year involvement in a leadership capacity with the organization.

At the time of his resignation, Charles said he was pursuing other opportunities, but did not elaborate. He met with Magna chairman Frank Stronach earlier this month to accept the new position.

Charles was a founding member of the TOC. A Southern California native, he served as a vice-president when the organization gained its status as the state's official representative for horsemen. Charles served as TOC vice-chairman from 2001 to 2003.

Outside of racing, Charles has been involved in commercial and residential real estate in Southern California and Asia and owned a printing company.

Charles's work for the TOC has included dealing with legislators in issues such as the worker's compensation bill that was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in May.

Knapp has strongest meet yet

Steve Knapp may end the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting Monday among the top five in the trainers' standings. It would mark the best result of his five-year training career.

Knapp said he expects more success when Hollywood Park opens its fall meeting Wednesday. After glancing through the conditions of the first two weeks of that meeting earlier this week, Knapp said he realized he will be very active.

"I've got a lot of horses to run," he said.

Knapp has 40 horses, primarily claimers. The stable is the largest it has been since he began training. The barn includes Icantgoforthat, the multiple-stakes-winning female turf sprinter.

Knapp, 47, owned a uniform rental supply company when he decided to become more involved in racing. He had previously owned horses with a few trainers and had followed racing since he was a child.

Through Thursday at Santa Anita, Knapp was in a four-way tie for third with eight wins. The success of the current meeting was preceded by a Del Mar season in which he won 7 races from 60 starters, but Knapp felt he should have done more.

"When you've got a big barn, you have to produce to keep a big barn," he said. "I wasn't very happy with Del Mar. I lost five horses to injury early in the meet. I didn't push my horses in training in the last few weeks of the meeting. We just straightened a few things out when we got back up here. I took my horses to the gate a few more times."

The quality of the barn may be improving. He recently acquired Dr. Kananga, a 2-year-old maiden winner from Ireland; The Candi Queen, who won an allowance race by

17 lengths at Hollywood Park last year, is returning to training; and Lovely Journey, a promising 2-year-old filly, is nearing her career debut.

This year, the barn has won 43 races. Knapp said he is aiming for 50 wins this year.

Track guarantees rich pick four pools

Hollywood Park is guaranteeing that the pick four pool will be $400,000 on Saturday and $200,000 on other days during the fall meeting, which begins Wednesday and continues through Dec. 20.

Hollywood Park has two $60,000 turf stakes on the first weekend of the meeting: the Bien Bien Stakes for 3-year-old males over a mile on Saturday and the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles Sunday. Penny's Fortune, the runner-up in the Harold Ramser Handicap on Oct. 11, is a probable starter for the Skirball-Kenis, trainer Jenine Sahadi said.

The first six-figure stakes of the meeting is the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes for 2-year-old males over seven furlongs Nov. 20. Declan's Moon, the winner of the Del Mar Futurity, is expected to be a heavy favorite.

Enriquez suspended seven days

Jockey Isaias Enriquez has been given a seven-day suspension by Santa Anita stewards for "reckless riding approaching the far turn" in the fourth race Wednesday.

Enriquez rode 48-1 Easy Question, who finished last and was involved in a bumping incident on the backstretch with Freetouch, the even-money favorite. Freetouch finished fifth.

The suspension begins Thursday and continues through Friday, Nov. 12. Enriquez will not appeal, according to his agent, Tom Knust.

House of Fortune back to work

House of Fortune, a top 3-year-old filly in California this year, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Friday. It was her first workout since she finished last in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 10.

House of Fortune emerged from that race with a severe ulcer in her throat, trainer Ron McAnally said. Earlier this year, House of Fortune won the California Oaks, Fantasy Stakes, and Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks.

At Hollywood Park, trainer Bobby Frankel worked recent stakes winners Greek Sun and Lundy's Liability.

Greek Sun, who won the Oak Tree Derby on Oct. 17, worked a half-mile in 52.20 seconds. He is a top candidate for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 28.

Lundy's Liability, who won the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap in his U.S. debut earlier this month, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40. He has been mentioned as a candidate for the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26 or Japan Cup Dirt on Nov. 28.