09/02/2002 11:00PM

Congaree to get turf tryout


DEL MAR, Calif. - Bob Baffert was metaphorically mixing porridge for Congaree on a foggy Tuesday morning at Del Mar. The Breeders' Cup Classic was too long. The Breeders' Cup Sprint was too short. But the Breeders' Cup Mile was just right.

And that is why Congaree, who won Monday's Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, will switch to the turf for at least his next start, in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 5 at Santa Anita. If Congaree, a son of Arazi, makes a successful transition, he will become a major player for the Mile.

The distance is surely ideal for Congaree. It is the surface that will be the question. Congaree will be attempting to follow the same path as War Chant, who switched to the turf and won both the Oak Tree Mile and Breeders' Cup Mile in 2000.

"He worked on the turf once here earlier this meet, and he worked really well," Baffert said. "It gives us an option if we want to try to make the Breeders' Cup. A mile and a quarter is too far. And he's bred for the turf. He's got a beautiful way of moving."

Espy seen - but not on SportsCenter

Is Espy, the 2-year-old filly who was a stylish winner against maidens on Sunday, named for a made-for-television awards ceremony, or for a verb meaning "to catch sight of"? Those clever folks at Claiborne Farm might wonder what the fuss is over. Espy, a daughter of Mt. Livermore, is out of the dam Locate.

Trevor Denman, Del Mar's track commentator, picked up on it, correctly pronouncing the same "Es-spy" as the Claiborne homebred drew off to win a 5 1/2-furlong race by 3 1/2 lengths under Laffit Pincay Jr.

Espy is the lone horse Richard Mandella trains for Claiborne. He theorizes the filly was sent to him because he trained Locate. Mandella is not sure where Espy will race next. The Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting is a possible spot, and then would come the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, though Mandella said, "I wish the Breeders' Cup wasn't a mile and an eighth.

"But I guess if you've got any 2-year-old who can run, you have to look at that. Laffit thinks she'll go on.

"We've liked her all along," Mandella added. "She's a pretty filly. She's very smart. She does everything nice."

Espy finished second in her debut at Hollywood Park, her lone start before Sunday's victory.

Bosque Redondo recuperating

Bosque Redondo, who needed extensive surgery last week to repair his badly damaged right front ankle, will remain at the Equine Medical Center in Cypress, Calif., for another week, according to Dr. Sam Bradley, one of the veterinarians who attended to Bosque Redondo immediately after he was injured in the Pacific Classic.

The next stage of Bosque Redondo's recovery will be to spend time at the Bradbury, Calif., farm of part-owner John Toffan. But Bradley said veterinarians did not want to move Bosque Redondo until Del Mar's meeting ends next week, because the veterinarians who will care for Bosque Redondo at Toffan's farm, such as Bradley, have obligations to clients at Del Mar through the end of the meet. By leaving Bosque Redondo at the clinic for another week, vets there can be supervise him continuously.

Bradley said Bosque Redondo's recovery "has gone picture-perfect so far.

"So many things can go wrong, but he hasn't batted an eyelash," Bradley said.

Super High succeeds without blinkers

After using blinkers on Super High for the first nine starts of her career, trainer Carla Gaines removed them for Monday's $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap, and she got the desired results, as Super High relaxed on the lead and led from start to finish.

The fractions of the race were quick, but, as Gaines noted, Super High "was not quite as much into the bridle.

"Before, when she'd hear a horse, she'd want to cut and run," Gaines said. "She looked like she was a little more relaxed."

Super High, the lone 3-year-old filly in the race for California-breds, set fractions of 22.63 seconds, 46.03, and 1:09.59 over a turf course that has become harder and faster as the meet has progressed. Super High finished just as strongly, covering the mile on turf in 1:33.65 to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Stetson Lady was second and Elaine's Angel third.

Garrett Gomez rode Super High ($6.20), who was winning for the fifth time in 10 starts. The daughter of High Brite was bred and is owned by John Harris's Harris Farms Inc.

Collect Call sidelined with foot ailment

After Collect Call suffered her fifth straight loss without a win this year in Friday's Piedra Foundation Handicap, trainer Christopher Paasch decided to give Collect Call an extended break in hopes of clearing up a nagging foot problem that hampered her performance.

Collect Call has a sore spot on the back of her right front foot. Paasch put a pad on that foot, and thought Collect Call worked well with it. "But at race speed, she couldn't stand up," Paasch said.

Collect Call will be turned out for three months at the northern California farm of her owners, Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez.

"Then I'll bring her back in and train her for two months," Paasch said. "If she's not doing well, we'll retire her, but if she does well, we'll run her as a 5-year-old."

Now 4, Collect Call had a strong 3-year-old season. She won the Santa Ysabel Stakes, was second in both the Fantasy Stakes and Hollywood Oaks, and was third in the Kentucky Oaks. She was third this year in a pair of Grade 1 races, the Vanity and Milady Breeders' Cup handicaps at Hollywood Park, both of which were won by Azeri.

* Patrick Valenzuela, the meet's leading rider, was slapped with a three-day suspension by Del Mar's stewards after his mount, Pick of the Valley, was disqualified from a dead-heat victory in Sunday's fifth race. Valenzuela received a seven-day suspension for another incident two weeks ago, but received an injunction and has continued to ride. This latest suspension is supposed to begin on Saturday.

* With seven days to go in the meeting, Valenzuela has a commanding lead in the jockey race, with 41 victories. Pincay and Victor Espinoza, who had a triple on Monday, are tied for second with 28 wins.

* Baffert is the runaway leading trainer with 26 wins, 12 more than Bill Spawr. This will be the sixth consecutive season that Baffert has won the training title at Del Mar.