01/29/2004 1:00AM

Court ships in to ride Fleetstreet


ARCADIA, Calif. - Last Thanksgiving, Jon Court chose to ride the longshot Fleetstreet Dancer in the $2.3 million Japan Cup Dirt at Tokyo Race Course instead of staying at Churchill Downs, where he is based most of the year.

"The opportunity to go to Japan was such an honor," Court said.

Court, 43, was not just playing tourist. He rode Fleetstreet Dancer to a 48-1 upset in the 16-horse Japan Cup Dirt, the richest victory in Court's career.

"The first time he got on him was in the paddock," said trainer Doug O'Neill. "He rode him like he'd broken the horse as a yearling."

O'Neill was introduced to Court through a friend last year and used Court for the first time when Excessivepleasure won the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows last July.

In Saturday's $250,000 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita, Court is back on Fleetstreet Dancer, who races for Ty and Lee Leatherman.

Court has already made one successful trip to Santa Anita this season. He rode the Sunshine Millions program last Saturday, winning the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf aboard Valentine Dancer. He picked up the mount on race day after the suspension of Patrick Valenzuela.

Court is currently based at Gulfstream Park, where he had two winners in the first 3 1/2 weeks of the meeting. He won five consecutive titles at Ellis Park in Kentucky from 1998 through 2002.

Fleetstreet Dancer carries 116 pounds in the San Antonio, eight less than defending champion, Congaree, and five fewer than Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic. Last October, Fleetstreet Dancer finished a half-length behind Pleasantly Perfect in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Saturday, Fleetstreet Dancer, 6, will not be 48-1. A price closer to 10-1 is more likely.

"I don't think they'll overlook him and make him as much of a long price," Court said. "I hope to create an upset."

Fudge Fatale pulls a shocker

Fudge Fatale turned an uncontested lead into a shocking upset in Wednesday's $76,850 Tuzla Handicap for older fillies and mares.

Ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., Fudge Fatale ($112.20) broke from the rail, led by as many as 3 1/2 lengths on the final turn, and prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over Polygreen, the even-money favorite.

Fudge Fatale, 4, ran a mile on turf in 1:34.40, scoring her first stakes win. The race was her first start since she finished seventh in the Harold Ramser Handicap here last October.

"It was a good group of fillies, and they were older," said trainer Beau Greely. "Maybe she's getting better."

Greely instructed Valdivia to take the lead; he thought her front-running style would work on a course where the temporary rails were set 30 feet from the permanent position, which narrows the course and makes it more difficult for closers to rally.

"She needs the lead. As long you'll give her head, she relaxes and comes back to you," Greely said. "She's never been better. I think she's best going a mile."

The victory prompted Greely to consider the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap, a Grade 2 over a mile on turf Feb. 21. The race would mark Fudge Fatale's graded stakes debut. Last year, she ran in four stakes, with her best finish a second in the minor Bay Meadows Oaks in June.

Polygreen could start in the Buena Vista. She fell on her side in the paddock but was not hurt.

Halfbridled gets back on track

Halfbridled, the unbeaten champion 2-year-old filly of 2003, is on course for the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 15 after working six furlongs in 1:14.40 on Thursday. The workout comes a week after Halfbridled gave trainer Richard Mandella a brief scare when she was coughing.

Thursday's workout was not fast - it was the 12th fastest of 23 recorded works at the distance - but Mandella's workers seldom work quickly.

After the workout, Mandella scoped Halfbridled to see if she bled and reported no problems.

"She scoped well, so far everything is going great," he said.

Cerin duo work toward return

Designed for Luck, the winner of the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile in October, and Publication, stakes-placed at Hollywood Park last spring, worked in tandem Thursday, preparing for comebacks in the first week of March.

The pair is trained by Vladimir Cerin and were timed in 1:12.80.

Designed for Luck is bound for the $350,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on March 6, part of the undercard on Santa Anita Handicap day. Designed for Luck, 7, has not started since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Publication, 5, finished second in the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 5. Cerin wants to start Publication in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap over seven furlongs March 7.

Few rivals for Action This Day

Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, will not have many rivals when he makes his 3-year-old debut in the minor Sham Stakes on Feb. 8. As of Thursday, the only definites were Borrego and Preachinatthebar, neither of whom are stakes winners.

Action This Day has not started since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in October. The Sham is an overnight stakes. The racing department is not obligated to use the race if it fails to draw insufficient entries. Mandella said he does not have an alternative plan for Action This Day if the Sham fails to fill.

Bluesthestandard tops Palos Verdes

Sunday's first post time is 11 a.m. and will end before the Super Bowl starts at 3:25 p.m.

The top race is the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap over six furlongs. The race is likely to draw eight entrants - Bluesthestandard, Boston Common, Captain Squire, Giovannetti, Marino Marini, Our New Recruit, Summer Service, and Tough Game.

Bluesthestandard has not started since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last October. Boston Common has won two stakes for trainer Jeff Mullins since joining his stable in the fall - the Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 6 and the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs here Jan. 1.