10/03/2001 11:00PM

A detailed look at Oak Tree's first week


ARCADIA, Calif. - There is no time like the present to look back on week 1 of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita. After all, what happened yesterday will directly impact what happens tomorrow. Wednesday, Sept. 26

Good Cop Bad Cop and Treasured Note, runners-up in the second and third races, are sitting on wins. Good Cop Bad Cop chased a breakneck pace in a one-other-than Cal-bred route, finished three lengths clear of third, and will be short-price standout next time for trainer Dan Hendricks. Likewise, Warren Stute's comebacker, Treasure Note, dueled on wicked splits, finished four lengths clear, and should not miss next time against Cal-bred maidens.

The winner of the third race was Charmeleon, an up-and-coming Smokester colt making only his second start. The 3-year-old is a half-brother to the talented filly Queen of Wilshire, who was scheduled for a comeback in Thursday's seventh race. Charmeleon is trained by streaking trainer Bob Hess, who ended Del Mar on an 11-for-44 run.

Funny thing is, Hess's best prospect is still a maiden. Two days before the win by Charmeleon, 2-year-old Striking Song lit up the racetrack with a blistering 1:11 workout. Striking Song previously finished fourth when rushed into the Del Mar Futurity, but recent works suggest he will be tough to oppose when he faces maidens and stretches to a mile on Monday.

Serenita cracked on the lead in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap, and trainer Bobby Frankel has a reclamation project on his hands. When fillies and mares tail off, they do not always come back. A La Reine delivered the come-from-behind upset, primarily due to a clever ride by Alex Solis. He saved ground, cut the corner, weaved through traffic, found a path outside, and was up late. After six days of racing, Solis had twice as many winners as the next jockey.

Eye Pea Oh had a tough trip in the ninth race, finishing fourth after waiting in heavy traffic through the lane. Marty Wygod claimed him for $80,000 from Ron Ellis, who was once Wygod's primary trainer. Wygod insists the claim was trainer Julio Canani's idea. Regardless, Eye Pea Oh is worth following.

Thursday, Sept. 27

The impressive comeback by Ellis-trained Blue Moon in the seventh race

- a two-other-than turf route - suggests she will be a prime contender

Nov. 4 in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap. She won by 2 1/2 lengths

with a Beyer Speed Figure of 95, two points higher than A La Reine earned

in the Ken Maddy, a Grade 3 sprint from which Blue Moon scratched in

favor of the easier allowance.

Skeptics thought Impressive Grades's best days were behind him. They

weren't. He returned to his favorite track and scored a $58 upset in the

seventh, earning a career-high Beyer of 112. I Love Silver had dead

aim, but hung. Horse to watch: Third race runner-up El Nuki, who finished

six lengths clear of third in fast time. He will win a Cal-bred

maiden-claimer next time with a similar effort.

Friday, Sept. 28

Rabin and Sweet Defense stole the third and fourth races, respectively. Rabin got his opening quarter in 22.19 seconds, and never looked back in the maiden-40 sprint. Sweet Defense, running on the downhill turf course, also walked on the lead (22.19). She was long gone in the $62,500 filly-mare sprint. Rabin and Sweet Defense will never get easier trips.

Sharper Too was all-out to win the fifth race at even-money, but deserves credit for overcoming trouble. Shuffled back, wide, awkwardly positioned throughout, the 76 Beyer does him no justice. Runner-up Ima Mile High Guy improved a ton for Doug O'Neill, currently one of the hottest trainers in Southern California.

Conversely, trainer John Dolan has gone ice cold. His ninth-race starter, The Madison Man, threw a fit behind the gate, broke slow, and ran poorly to finish third. Through June 27, Dolan was 24 for 82 (29 percent). Since then, he is 3 for 38 (less than 8 percent).

In the throes of an autumn heat wave, the turf course has played extremely fast. Regardless, seventh race winner Quake ran super to win a three-other-than optional $100,000 claimer by a neck in 1:32.55. Runner-up Speak in Passing set a blazing pace and got nailed. The one-dimensional speedster runs like a sprinter.

Saturday, Sept. 29

Candor was the latest in a long string of Lasix-on winners for Ron McAnally in the first race. Although the improving 2-year-old filly earned a low 60 Beyer, some speed-figure handicappers will split the variant and upgrade the number. Max Power, bet from 8-1 to 9-5 in his U.S. debut in the third race, is worth following. He set a blazing pace, and only tired in the final furlong. Next time, vs. two-other-than sprinters, he may be gone.

Nany's Sweep finished a dull third in the sixth, the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Handicap, but the Grade 1-winning mare has never done well in hot weather. Tamara Princess, the 6-5 favorite, finished last. She had lost weight between starts, and trainer Eduardo Inda suggested he may have run her too many times in too short of a time frame. She will be a factor this winter in the La Canada Series.

Norfolk Stakes runner-up Ibn Al Haitham ran every bit as well as the winner, Essence of Dubai. Wide throughout, Ibn Al Haitham was four-wide into the lane while the winner scraped paint. Beaten three lengths, the runner-up ran better than the winner. Of course, when Came Home came out, the Norfolk lost its luster.

Tranquility Lake's defeat in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon marked the sixth time she has lost a stakes race at 6-5 or less. Bettors have consistently come to expect too much from the top-class mare. Oddly enough, the Yellow Ribbon was one of the best races of her career. Forced through blistering fractions, she fought off every challenge but one. Janet took advantage of the hot pace, winning from last.

Sunday, Sept. 30

American System stamped himself as a top 2-year-old sprinter with a fast (1:03.39) maiden win in the third. Blinkers on, a return to his favorite track, and a shorter distance were the keys. He was sired by American Chance, and is out of a Copelan mare, so his future will always be short. Runner-up Requesto ran a winning race in defeat, and will be odds-on again next time, too.