09/02/2006 12:00AM

Divide and Conquer joins Del Mar Derby cast


DEL MAR, Calif. - Divide and Conquer, who finished sixth in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 13 in his stakes debut, has been added to the field for Wednesday's $250,000 Del Mar Futurity.

The Grade 2 Futurity is the closing day feature of this meeting. The Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park begins on Friday.

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Divide and Conquer is one of five probable starters in the Grade 2 Futurity, which is run at seven furlongs. The other expected starters are Great Hunter, Horse Greeley, Prime Ruler, and Stormello.

On Saturday, trainer Bob Baffert said that Hot Flame, who finished fourth in the Best Pal Stakes, will not start. Baffert said he "didn't like" Hot Flame's six-furlong workout in 1:14 on Wednesday.

The absence of Hot Flame leaves Baffert without a starter. Baffert won the Futurity a record seven consecutive times from 1996-2002.

The decision to run Divide and Conquer was made on Friday, a day after he worked five furlongs in 1:01.20, according to trainer Don Chatlos.

"We wanted to see how he came out of the work," Chatlos said. "He's coming out of his works a little better. Our concern was the track. We didn't want to get knocked out for the rest of the year."

Chatlos is dismissing Divide and Conquer's race in the Best Pal because the colt's feet "were bothering him," he said.

"The track had been stinging his feet," Chatlos said. "We had him shod a little differently and he looks a lot better traveling."

Clinton Potts will ride Divide and Conquer, replacing Norberto Arroyo Jr. Potts was aboard when Divide and Conquer beat maidens at Hollywood Park on July 15. Chatlos said the Futurity is a vital race for Divide and Conquer's autumn campaign.

"We haven't lost confidence, but he needs to show us what we think he is," he said.

Horse Greeley, who beat maidens in his second start here on Aug. 12, worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds, according to trainer Richard Mandella. The colt was not given an official time. He worked when the course was covered by significant fog.

Horse Greeley is making his stakes debut in the Del Mar Futurity, a race that Mandella won in 2003 with Siphonizer.

In his maiden win, Horse Greeley broke from the rail to the lead, drifted out slightly in the stretch, and won by four lengths. Mandella said that Horse Greeley may have reacted to Arroyo's whip in early stretch.

"He looked a little green," Mandella said. "We'd never hit him. He was always so fast that we never had to put the stick on him."

Owner plays role in Political Web's stakes win

Political Web won her first stakes in Friday's $108,500 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a race marred by a spill at the start that unseated Potts from leading contender River's Prayer.

Political Web ($10) rallied from last to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Getback Time. Kris' Sis finished third in the field of seven fillies.

Political Web, Kris' Sis, and Catch My Fancy, who finished fourth, are trained by Julio Canani. He ran Political Web at the insistence of owner Jeff Nielsen, who races as Everest Stable.

Political Web ran the mile on the main track in 1:37.98 under Espinoza. Bred by Everest Stables, she has won 3 of 9 starts and $165,700.

River's Prayer stumbled at the start. Trainer Paula Capestro was angry that River's Prayer was not taken out of the gate and allowed to settle and be reloaded after being upset before the start. Capestro was upset, she said, that an assistant starter bit the filly's ear in the moments before the start to get her attention.

River's Prayer, who won the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar in July, ran loose around the track before crashing through a temporary rail that led to the backstretch. She emerged from the race with a grabbed quarter and a bruise on her stifle where she collided with the rail, Capestro said.

Despite losing horses, Mullins in the hunt

Through Friday, trainer Jeff Mullins had 15 wins at the meeting and was three wins behind leader Doug O'Neill in the race for the title.

Mullins holds second in the standings despite losing 24 horses at the meet via the claim box. Horses have been claimed from him in values ranging from $10,000 to $80,000. He has claimed 10 horses during the meeting.

By comparison, O'Neill claimed 16 horses, while losing 15 through claims.

The turnover has left Mullins wondering if he has set some sort of record for losing horses at one meeting. Such statistics are not kept.

"I don't know what the record is, but I don't think I've ever had that many claimed away, especially at a short meeting," he said.

Of the horses that he lost, Mullins said he has attempted to reclaim three of them. He has re-acquired one, Swiss Lad, for $50,000 on Aug. 26.