07/29/2004 11:00PM

Del Mar's newsmakers and heartbreakers


PHOENIX - The first week or so of Del Mar is in the books and as usual some horses have used it as a potential launching pad for bigger and better things. Others, however, have instead taken a hit. Here's an early seaside inventory.

Who's hot

Musical Chimes - Even the most grizzled veteran race viewer had to be amazed by her performance in last Saturday's Grade 1 John C. Mabee Handicap. Forget that favorite Light Jig failed to fire. It didn't matter. When you see the race you know there's no way any female turf runner was going to beat Musical Chimes. Kent Desormeaux rode her as if with disdain for the others. In midstretch, while four other tough runners were in a full drive with their riders flailing away, Musical Chimes was in a mere canter, while Desormeaux rear-viewed a couple times, looking for the onslaught he figured was to come from Light Jig. It never materialized. And when Desormeaux hit the gas the response was immediate and breathtaking. Musical Chimes is going to be awfully tough to beat in the Grade 1 Beverly D. a few weeks hence if she can come anywhere close to duplicating that effort.

Katdogawn - She may have finished only fifth in the Mabee, but Katdogawn was stuck inside and behind horses the entire way and never had clear sailing. That didn't keep her from winning - she wasn't going to beat Musical Chimes with a head start. But she was not able to muster a run and still was beaten only a 1 1/2 lengths for the place. Trained by Jim Cassidy, she likely isn't Grade 1 caliber, but certainly in the right spot she can do some damage - the Sept. 4 Palomar, for example.

Western Hemisphere - The Bob Baffert trainee easily won last Saturday's Fleet Treat. That isn't earth-shattering. But it does make this full sister to top-class General Challenge a stakes winner going seven furlongs on dirt, stakes-placed routing on dirt, Grade 2 stakes- placed (she lost by a nose) routing on turf, and a respectable fourth against Grade 1 competition going long on turf (the American Oaks at 10 furlongs).

Western Hemisphere is obviously very talented, and while Yearly Report, also owned by Golden Eagle and trained by Baffert, may be getting more publicity, she is no weak sister.

Zam Zam - She was claimed for $16,000 by trainer Mike Marlow out of a runner-up effort at Hollywood. But no one could have predicted what she would do Wednesday. The 4-year-old filly double-jumped in class off the claim to the $25,000 level, and ran off to win by eight lengths in a gallop. Two of her three wins have come at Del Mar, so she obviously likes the place. But her form explosion can't be credited entirely to a horse-for-course angle. Marlow appears to have claimed her at just the right time.

Who's not

Dimitrova - It's hard to believe Dimitrova, who looked so smashing winning last year's Grade 1 American Oaks and Grade 1 Flower Bowl, can be spinning her wheels. In the Mabee, she seemed a bit more eager early on, but the result was the same - she failed to keep going in the lane. Maybe you can credit her first two losses this year to a layoff and an illness, but now she has three dull outings in as many tries.

Sarafan - Like Dimitrova, he is from the Neil Drysdale shed row. A Grade 1 stakes winner, previously unbeaten in three tries on the Del Mar turf, he never really was involved in Sunday's Grade 1 Eddie Read. But the 7-year-old Sarafan, an earner of $2.4 million, now has 41 races in him. He started his career in Europe, then came to the States, and since then raced in Japan and Hong Kong, came back to the U.S., then on to Canada, Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong, and back to the U.S. The Eddie Read might simply signal he's at the end of the line, but it sure has been a nice run, hasn't it?

Legendary Traitors - Trainer Jeff Mullins hasn't done too many things wrong the past year or so, but he's got some work to do if he's to make his claim of this 3-year-old gelding work out. Mullins claimed him out of a sprint at Hollywood for $25,000 on June 30. The horse showed speed, pressed the pace, and gave way at 9-5 that day. He wheeled him back in a $20,000 route here on Monday. This time the horse was 7-5, while dropping off a claim. He chased the pace, but again gave way. His form has suddenly gone south.

Dell Place - He turned the corner last summer, was gone for many months, then came back strong this spring at Hollywood, earning himself a shot at the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. Things didn't work out there, but he came back with a big allowance second. But he was then a so-so third at Hollywood, and then Wednesday, racing for a $100,000 claiming tag, was downright dull, finishing fourth of five at even money after pressing the pace. It could be that he's in need of a break. No one plunked down the $100,000 to claim him.