08/09/2004 11:00PM

Colonial Colony to try Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Colonial Colony, the shocking winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June, will start in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 22. He is the only expected invader for the richest race of the Del Mar meeting.

Trainer Walter Bindner Jr. said he wants to start Colonial Colony in the Pacific Classic to gauge where the 6-year-old ranks against top handicap horse Pleasantly Perfect.

"We want to see where we stack up against Pleasantly Perfect," he said. "I know he's probably the best horse in training."

Pleasantly Perfect won the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic and this year's Dubai World Cup in March. In his comeback race, Pleasantly Perfect finished second to Pacific Classic hopeful Choctaw Nation in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 1.

Colonial Colony has started twice since winning the Stephen Foster Handicap at 62-1, edging the heavily favored Southern Image by a nose. Colonial Colony finished fourth behind Peace Rules in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 3 and was fourth as the favorite behind Eye of the Tiger in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park on July 31.

Bindner dismissed the Washington Park result because of a lack of early pace, which hampered Colonial Colony's late kick.

"I think the race would have set up better if there would have been more speed," he said. "He ran a great race in New York. He was only beaten a length."

Owned by Lakeside Farm, Colonial Colony will mark Bindner's first starter in California. Bindner has booked Rafael Bejarano, the nation's leading rider by wins, for the mount.

The Pacific Classic will not have a large field. Aside from Colonial Colony, Pleasantly Perfect, and Choctaw Nation, other candidates include During, Night Patrol, Olmodavor, and Total Impact.

Tuesday, Pleasantly Perfect worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 in company with a stablemate.

"It was just an easy five-eighths to get him started back," Mandella said. "I think he's in great shape."

In the San Diego Handicap, Pleasantly Perfect led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole but could not hold off a late run by Choctaw Nation, who won by three-quarters of a length.

Mandella takes some of the blame for the loss, saying that he had Pleasantly Perfect too eager.

"The race was just so different than what he'd done so far," Mandella said. "I take part of the blame. I geared him up with a little speed. He left there wanting to run and wound up with the lead at the half-mile pole. It was too strange for him. I hated to get him beat, but that's racing."

Best Pal win would suit Jones

Marty Jones was in his early 20's and an assistant to his father, Gary, when Best Pal was the star of their stable. Gary Jones was the second of Best Pal's three trainers through a career in which the gelding won 18 of 47 starts and earned $5,668,245.

With Jones, Best Pal won such races as the Pacific Classic in 1991, the Charles H. Strub Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, and Oaklawn Handicap in 1992, and the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1993.

These days, Jones has his own stable. Sunday, Marty Jones starts Things Happen in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes, a top race for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"It would be nice to win a race named after Best Pal," Jones said. "He's the best horse I've ever been around."

Things Happen is off to a promising start. After finishing fifth in his debut on May 30, Things Happen rebounded to lead throughout a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in July, drawing off by five lengths and earning an 89 Beyer.

"He broke slow the first time and was green," Jones said. "I think he needed a race to figure it out. He couldn't have been more impressive in his win."

Owned by Harris Farms and Per Antonsen, Things Happen will be tested in the Best Pal. The race will have a small field. Trainer Bob Baffert has two runners: Actxecutive, who was second in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 17, and Roman Ruler, a four-length maiden winner on June 19. Wetherly, a maiden winner on July 24, is also an intended starter.

Things Happen set the pace in his maiden win, a style that may be his best chance to have a say in the outcome of the Best Pal.

"I don't know how good he is," Jones said.

Jones has strong memories of his years around Best Pal, particularly the success the gelding had. There are also a few painful memories.

"That horse bit my thumbnail off," he said. "That was extremely painful to say the least."

The Best Pal is one of three stakes this weekend.

Sunday, top sprinter Pico Central will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the $200,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at seven furlongs. Pico Central has won three stakes this year, the most recent of which was the Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park on May 31.

The $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds on turf leads Saturday's program. Blackdoun, the winner of the second division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 21, will carry high weight of 120 pounds. Greek Sun was assigned top weight of 122 pounds, but is scheduled to start in Saturday's Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park.

Miss Loren points for Ruffian

Miss Loren, the upset winner of Sunday's Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Handicap for older fillies and mares, is bound for the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 19, trainer Luis Seglin said.

An Argentine-bred, Miss Loren is not nominated for the Breeders' Cup, according to Seglin. He said that owner Juan Carlos Bago may supplement Miss Loren to the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, but that a decision will be made closer to the race.

A Group 1 winner in Argentina last year, Miss Loren won her first U.S. stakes in the Hirsch.

The Grade 1 Ruffian is run over 1 1/16 miles.

"It's a handicap and she won't carry that much weight," Seglin said.

Victory Encounter, the winner of the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park in May and the seventh-place finisher in the Hirsch, will take a drop in class for her next start.

She will be pointed for the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap at Fairplex Park on Sept. 24, trainer John Sadler said.

Ruis to appeal suspension

Apprentice jockey Mick Ruis intends to appeal a three-day suspension he received on Monday for causing interference in Sunday's first race. Ruis was aboard Oreanda, who was disqualified from second to third for failing to maintain a straight course in the stretch of a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The suspension dates were scheduled for Saturday through Monday.