12/03/2004 1:00AM

Chips Are Down eyes loftier goals

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Chips Are Down may have earned a start in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 18 with a hard-fought victory in a $39,000 allowance race at Hollywood Park on Friday.

Scoring his first victory against winners, Chips Are Down stalked pacesetter Spanish Chestnut to early stretch and pulled clear in the final 100 yards to win by three-quarters of a length. Rene Douglas rode Chips Are Down.

The final time of 1:41.63 for 1 1/16 miles impressed trainer Bob Baffert, who was disappointed that Chips Are Down was excluded from Saturday's $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in Louisiana. The Jackpot oversubscribed, and Chips Are Down did not have sufficient earnings to gain a spot in the 10-horse field.

"That would have won the Delta Jackpot Stakes," Baffert said. "This is a nice horse."

Chips Are Down will be an outsider in what is expected to be an outstanding Futurity, which is run at 1 1/16 miles. The race is highly likely to determine the Eclipse Award for the nation's outstanding 2-year-old male.

The top candidates include Declan's Moon, the undefeated winner of two sprint stakes; Proud Accolade, who won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in October; and Wilko, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Other probable starters are Bushwacker, General Jumbo, Giacomo, and Sunny Sky. Spanish Chestnut has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Baffert said Friday's race was vital for Chips Are Down to have any chance of starting in the Hollywood Futurity.

"I figured it would help to get another run in him," Baffert said. "My horses run better the more I run them. I'd rather run them than train them. I'm not sure we'll run him, but we'll see. If he's in tip-top shape, I've got to give it a shot."

Chips Are Down has won 2 of 6 starts and $74,825. By Distorted Humor, Chips Are Down was purchased for $450,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Santa Anita opts against detention barn

Santa Anita will not operate a race-day detention barn during the upcoming winter-spring meeting, track executive Chris McCarron said Thursday. During a September meeting of a California Horse Racing Board ad Ahoc security committee of racing officials, McCarron said Santa Anita was considering operating a detention barn beginning in late December.

Thursday, McCarron said the track will instead focus on race-day testing for excessive levels of sodium bicarbonate, administered by what is known in racing circles as milkshakes. Giving a horse a milkshake, typically through a tube into the stomach via the nose, is considered a possible performance enhancer.

Santa Anita on Thursday announced that it will test all runners for bicarbonate levels during the upcoming meeting, which begins Dec. 26.

"We'll see how this program goes," McCarron said. "We're not ruling anything out in the future. There are legitimate concerns about detention barns. I think this is an excellent first step."

In early September, McCarron proposed a detention barn concept that would house horses for up to six hours in advance of a race and would provide additional security via security cameras. The idea had been discussed by the committee in the past, but was met with opposition from horsemen reluctant to move a horse from stable to another barn on race day.

Concern about milkshakes has been prevalent in California for most of the year. Testing for milkshakes was conducted earlier this year at Del Mar and Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita has worked out a three-tier penalty system for trainers whose horses are found in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide, 37 millimoles per liter of plasma.

A first offense could lead to a trainer's barn being placed under surveillance for 45 days and possible confinement of horses entered by that trainer in a detention barn on the day before racing. The trainers would pay the costs of such detention, $150 per day for security and $25 per day for stall renovation per horse, according to a statement released by Santa Anita.

A second offense would prohibit a trainer from starting a horse for 15 race days. A third offense would lead to the trainer being banned from Santa Anita for a year.

Break's over for Star Over the Bay

Star Over the Bay, the winner of three graded stakes for turf distance horses this year, has resumed training with Mike Mitchell after a brief vacation.

Owned by a partnership, Star Over the Bay has not started since finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Mitchell said Star Over the Bay returned to training earlier this week and has the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 29 as his main goal. The race is restricted to California-breds and Florida-breds.

Claimed for $80,000 in May, Star Over the Bay subsequently won the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Del Mar Handicap, and the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Mitchell said he plans to send horses to Florida this winter, but said Star Over the Bay will remain in California.

"I think he likes these firm turf courses," he said. "I feel that the soft turf course was against him in Texas."

Injury ends Culture Clash's career

Culture Clash has been retired after undergoing surgery last weekend following a breakdown in the first division of the Miesque Stakes on Nov. 26. A 2-year-old filly, Culture Clash suffered a condylar fracture to her right foreleg.

Trainer Marcelo Polanco said Culture Clash had a successful operation at Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Santa Ynez, Calif., to install screws to stabilize the leg. She will remain at the clinic for a month, Polanco said.

"Everything went fine, but she'll have to be a broodmare," he said. "The prognosis is not good for her to be back as a racehorse."

Owned by Everest Stable, Culture Clash had one victory in four starts. She finished fourth in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes and 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.