07/24/2005 11:00PM

Crosby the spot for Pico Central

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Last year, Pico Central was kept out of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a move that made sense financially, since he would have had to have been supplemented, but which, coupled with a season-ending loss in the Cigar Mile, ultimately cost him a divisional championship.

He has raced just once since then, finishing fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. In an attempt to re-establish himself as one of the world's elite sprinters, and put himself on course for a potential start in this year's Sprint at Belmont Park, Pico Central will make his first start in four months in the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar, trainer Paulo Lobo said Monday morning.

Lobo made the decision to run in the six-furlong Bing Crosby after Pico Central worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Sunday at Santa Anita. Lobo said he had also been considering the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Aug. 21, as well as a race at Saratoga. The Crosby, according to Lobo, will be Pico Central's only start prior to the Oct. 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park, which he won last year.

"The Vosburgh is the main goal," Lobo said. "He needs to have a race. I didn't want to ship to Saratoga, and then ship again for the Vosburgh. This way he can stay in California and be fresh for the Vosburgh."

Lobo said that if Pico Central runs well in the Bing Crosby and Vosburgh, there is a good possibility he will be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup.

"Yes, it is possible," Lobo said.

Jockey switch for Pico Central

Jockey Alex Solis and agent Scotty McClellan had been expecting Pico Central to come back in the Pat O'Brien. It was not until last Thursday, when nominations for the Bing Crosby closed with Pico Central among the 13 nominees, that McClellan said he realized Pico Central was ahead of schedule. By then, however, McClellan had already committed to trainer Bruce Headley to ride the 3-year-old Storm Wolf, who has won his last three starts.

"I gave the call to Headley," McClellan said. "I hadn't heard from Lobo."

The change in plans benefited jockey Mike Smith, who will ride Pico Central for the first time in the Bing Crosby.

"We wanted Solis, but he already was going to ride for Headley, so Mike Smith will ride," Lobo said.

In addition to Pico Central and Storm Wolf, others expected for the Bing Crosby include Areyoutalkintome (Tyler Baze the rider), Battle Won (Patrick Valenzuela), Greg's Gold (David Flores), Pt's Grey Eagle, Stormin' Lyon (Roberto Gonzalez), Taste of Paradise (Martin Pedroza), and Top Commander (Garrett Gomez).

Greg's Gold zipped five furlongs in 58.80 seconds on Monday morning at Del Mar. Taste of Paradise breezed a half-mile in 47.60 seconds.

Sweet Return to Chicago, but not Amorama

The Eddie Read Handicap last Sunday and John C. Mabee Handicap on Saturday are both important Grade 1 races in their own right, but also serve as preps to major races next month at Arlington Park. Sweet Return, who won the Eddie Read, is headed to the Arlington Million, trainer Ron McAnally said Monday morning, but Amorama is unlikely to compete in the Beverly D., according to trainer Julio Canani.

"It's too soon," Canani said of the Aug. 13 race.

Fourty Niners Son, a fast-finishing second in the Eddie Read, is a possibility for the Arlington Million, trainer Neil Drysdale said. Fourty Niners Son, owned by Tom Baxter, also is under consideration for Saratoga's Sword Dancer, which also is run on Aug. 13.

"If he runs in the Arlington Million, he will have to be supplemented for $30,000," Drysdale said. "Mr. Baxter has to decide."

Surf Cat points to Pacific Classic

Surf Cat, the winner of the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 9, will make his next start in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 21, trainer Bruce Headley said over the weekend.

Headley had considered sending Surf Cat to the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park on Aug. 7, but has opted to stay in California and take on older horses. The Pacific Classic will mark Surf Cat's first appearance at 1 1/4 miles.

In the 14-year history of the Pacific Classic, Del Mar's richest race, 3-year-olds have won three times - Best Pal (1991), General Challenge (1999), and Came Home (2002).

Owned by Headley's wife, Aase, and Marsha Naify, Surf Cat has won 3 of 6 starts and $290,020. Surf Cat won his first stakes in the Swaps, scoring by five lengths.

Bear Fan retired again

Bear Fan, a top female sprinter of 2004, has been retired just weeks after being put back into training after failing to be pronounced in foal.

A winner of 8 of 16 starts and $808,150, Bear Fan was recently found to have a knee injury that will prevent further racing, trainer and co-owner Wesley Ward said.

"She has a little bit of a puffy knee," he said. "If she worked again, it would be a chip in a knee. What a shame."

Bear Fan has not started since finishing fifth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai on March 26. Following that race, she was sent to Kentucky to be bred to A.P. Indy. After being bred twice and failing to get into foal, Bear Fan was sent back to California.

Bear Fan won four stakes in 2004, including three Grade 2 stakes at Laurel and Belmont Park.

Farina, Valenzuela suspended

Jockeys Tony Farina and Patrick Valenzuela have been suspended for three days, from Wednesday through Friday, for their respective rides in last Friday's California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes.

Farina, who rode favored Kalookan Lessie, was suspended for failing to maintain a straight course. Kalookan Lessie was disqualified from second to fifth for bumping with Bid of Genius in early stretch.

Valenzuela, who ride Bid of Genius, was suspended for causing interference at the start.

Valenzuela was suspended during the 2004 Del Mar meeting and won the riding title here in 2003.

* Trainer Marcelo Polanco has been fined $500 by Del Mar stewards after one of his starters at Hollywood Park - Fallfree, the winner of the first race on June 16 - tested positive for an excessive amount of Butazolidin, an analgesic.

* Trainer A.C. Avila was fined $300 as the result of his horse Pacho, who finished second in the fourth race at Hollywood Park on June 5, testing positive for an excessive amount of Butazolidin.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen