12/10/2008 1:00AM

Dave's Revenge figures a shorter price


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It was easy to dismiss the chances of Dave's Revenge for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. She had only won a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar in late August in her debut and went into the Juvenile Fillies as a 64-1 outsider.

It is not so easy to dismiss Dave's Revenge now, in advance of Saturday's $421,500 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park.

In the BC Juvenile Fillies, Dave's Revenge rallied to finish fourth in a field of 13, three lengths behind division standout Stardom Bound. The performance was even better than it looked. Dave's Revenge raced in traffic on the turn and was caught near the line for third-place by Sky Diva, the winner of the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park in early October.

"She should have been third in a perfect world," trainer Bob Hess Jr. said Wednesday. "She had to hesitate for 100 yards on the turn. She ran well. At 60-1, to run fourth, I can't complain."

Owned by David Rippey, Dave's Revenge was purchased for $45,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. It cost about the same in entry fees for the BC Juvenile.

"It was a gamble to run," Hess said.

Of course, if Dave's Revenge wins, or even places in the Starlet, her value will soar. Hess is hoping that she can prove to be among the better fillies in California. Wednesday, Hess stopped short of saying that Dave's Revenge is a candidate for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in May.

"I think she's a very good filly," Hess said.

She will have plenty of time to prove her ability in major stakes between now and then.

The Starlet, the final Grade 1 of 2008 for the 2-year-old female division, has drawn a field of seven, led by Laragh, the third-place finisher in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Pamona Ball, winner of the Sharp Cat Stakes last month, is the only entrant who won her last start. The race is run over 1 1/16 miles.

Santa Anita adds polymer to main track

Santa Anita closed its synthetic main track on Tuesday to add polymer to the Pro-Ride brand surface, a maintenance program that track president Ron Charles said had been planned for several months.

The track reopened for training Wednesday. The maintenance project was scheduled to be completed that afternoon, Charles said.

"They put most of it on [Tuesday] and they'll do the rest" Wednesday, Charles said of the material.

The Pro-Ride surface was installed at Santa Anita in August after the previous Cushion Track brand surface failed to drain sufficiently during several rainstorms last winter.

During the summer, more than 14,500 tons of sand was mixed with Pro-Ride polymer and fiber in Santa Anita's parking lot and then laid onto the racetrack. The current surface has passed several drainage tests and a late November storm of approximately two inches of rain.

This week's maintenance of the main track was postponed from earlier this fall, Charles said.

"It's been planned since Day 1," he said. "We decided to hold off until after the Breeders' Cup."

Court hearing over Cost of Freedom

The racing future of Cost of Freedom, winner of the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita in September, may be decided in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday.

Owner Gary Barber has taken legal action against the California Horse Racing Board, challenging the opinions of their official veterinarians regarding the soundness of Cost of Freedom.

Twice in the last seven weeks, Cost of Freedom has failed a pre-race physical examination regarding soundness. Currently, Cost of Freedom is on the California Horse Racing Board's veterinarian's list for unsoundness and is unable to race until removed from that list. He was placed on the veterinarian's list in late October after failing a pre-race inspection for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Barber and trainer John Sadler attempted to have Cost of Freedom removed from the veterinarian's list in November, in advance of the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22. Cost of Freedom was given a workout on Nov. 19, five furlongs in 1:00, but was not removed from the vet's list after state veterinarian Tim Connor said the gelding did not jog satisfactorily after the workout.

Last month, Barber said he submitted Cost of Freedom to a variety of medical tests, including X-rays and an ultrasound, which revealed no injuries. At the time, Barber said that the racing board's technique of examining horses was "archaic."

"He's got a funny gait when he jogs on the road," Barber said. "That's his idiosyncrasy."

Sadler said Wednesday that Cost of Freedom is currently galloping at Santa Anita.

"I can't train him too much until I know where we're at legally," Sadler said. "Why breeze a lot if we can't run?"

The racing board will be represented by supervising deputy district attorney Jerald Mosley. The case is being heard by Judge James Chalfant.

Pending court decisions, Cost of Freedom will either resume racing at Santa Anita this winter or could be sent to trainer Michael de Kock in Dubai, Sadler said.

El Gato Malo breezes for Sir Beaufort

El Gato Malo, winner of the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in May, breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday. He will make his next start in the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, trainer Craig Dollase said.

Dollase had considered the $250,000 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 for El Gato Malo, but wants to run the 3-year-old in races around two turns.

The Sir Beaufort Stakes will be El Gato Malo's turf debut.

Owned by the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate, El Gato Malo was third in an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30, his first start since the Lone Star Derby. Gayego, a candidate for the Malibu, set a track record of 1:13.37 in that race.

"It was a comeback race," Dollase said of El Gato Malo's performance on Nov. 30. "He's not a sprinter. They went fast, they didn't come back and they set a track record."