08/26/2005 11:00PM

Cold Cold Woman earns shot at Yellow Ribbon


DEL MAR, Calif. - Cold Cold Woman earned a trip to the major turf stakes for fillies and mares this fall with a grueling nose victory in Friday's $84,085 California Thoroughbred Trainers and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap at Del Mar.

With the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park looming in late October, Cold Cold Woman is likely to make her next start in the $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 1, a key prep to the Breeders Cup.

"I will be inclined to run in the Yellow Ribbon," said trainer Neil Drysdale.

When the field of five turned for home, Cold Cold Woman was in pursuit of Secret Charm, also trained by Drysdale. The two 4-year-old fillies were a head apart at the eighth pole with Cold Cold Woman holding a slight advantage. Through the final furlong, Secret Charm regained the lead but could not hold off Cold Cold Woman, who finished 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:12.59 under jockey Victor Espinoza.

"She put up a real fight," Drysdale said of Cold Cold Woman. "They were running at the end."

Cold Cold Woman has won 3 of 10 starts and $116,436. The CTT and TOC Handicap was her first start in a stakes in the U.S. She won a minor handicap in Ireland last year.

Controversy over late scratch

The late scratch of Pragmatico from Friday's fourth race left trainer Art Sherman upset over a series of events that led to the scratch, and left Del Mar's stewards defending their interpretation of rules regarding riding assignments.

Sherman, steward Dennis Nevin, jockey Garrett Gomez, and Gomez's agent, Jim Pegram, all agreed on the basics of the controversy, but disagreed over its resolution.

Gomez had ridden Pragmatico in his previous race and asked Pegram not to ride him back on the 7-year-old gelding. When entries were taken Wednesday for Friday's card, Gomez was named on the horse. Gomez later reminded Pegram of his request regarding Pragmatico, which Pegram relayed to Sherman.

Sherman said he would instead use jockey Isaias Enriquez, to which Pegram agreed. But when Sherman asked the stewards on Friday, 1 1/2 hours before the first race, to make the change, he was denied.

"I rode for 23 years," said Sherman, a former jockey. "If a jock doesn't want to ride your horse, he's not going to ride. I knew there was one of two things that were going to happen - either he was going to get scratched in the post parade, or he was going to get pulled up coming out of the gate."

Gomez accompanied Pragmatico to the gate, but requested the horse be scratched, citing a problem with Pragmatico's right front leg. Dr. Ray Baran, the track veterinarian, phoned the stewards with the scratch, which took place only minutes before post time.

"It was so bogus they didn't let Gomez out," Sherman said. "I had another rider. I ended up in a no-win situation. And it's not fair to the public. They're betting on horses in that race and the pick six. It's very frustrating. I was glad initially that Gomez told me he didn't want to ride. I'm not mad at Garrett. I'm mad at the way it turned out."

According to Nevin, the request to change riders should have been made at scratch time on Thursday. "By Friday, the program is printed," Nevin said. "It's an obligation to ride your call. There has to be rules. It can't be haphazard. You can't have him look at seven mounts and say, 'I will ride these four, but not these three.' That's not how it works."

Nevin said that if Gomez had requested the scratch of Pragmatico, but Baran disagreed, and Gomez then refused to ride the horse, the stewards would have let Gomez bring the horse back to the paddock and be replaced by another rider.

Three Valleys set for Del Mar BC

Three Valleys, third in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap last November and a winner of his only start this year on July 24, will return in the $350,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile on turf on Sunday.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Three Valleys was a top 2-year-old in England in 2003, winning the Group 3 Coventry Stakes and placing in two other group stakes.

Assistant trainer Humberto Ascanio said that Three Valleys has trained well since winning an allowance race last month.

"He has been training consistently all the way," Ascanio said.

The Del Mar BC Handicap is run over a mile on turf this year, a switch from past years when it was run on dirt. The race is expected to draw a large field.

Easy workout for Pico Central

Pico Central, a top sprinter of 2004 who is winless in two major stakes this year, worked three furlongs in 37 seconds at Santa Anita on Saturday. The workout was Pico Central's first major exercise since a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar on July 31.

Trainer Paulo Lobo said because Pico Central bled in the Bing Crosby, he required a brief rest in early August.

"He went very easy," Lobo said of the workout. "It was very smooth. He came back happy from the work."

Pico Central is being pointed for the $500,000 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, a race he won last year.

A winner of 9 of 17 starts and $1,283,145, Pico Central, 6, is booked to go to stud in Florida in 2006.

Storm Wolf out till next year

Storm Wolf, the winner of the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park in May, has been sidelined indefinitely by a soft tissue injury, trainer Bruce Headley said Saturday.

Storm Wolf, 3, is not expected to resume training until next summer at the earliest, Headley said. The colt finished eighth in the Bing Crosby in his last start. Storm Wolf has won 3 of 5 starts and $147,840.

* Trainer Kristin Mulhall has been fined $500 by the California Horse Racing Board after Cheiron, who finished second in the seventh race on July 25, tested positive for the anti-inflammatory Indomethacin. Because Indomethacin is listed as a Class 4 drug there is no redistribution of the $74,600 purse.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman