11/06/2003 12:00AM

Divisional titles look on the line


ARCADIA, Calif. - In recent years, top California-breds have needed success on the national stage to earn the statebred horse of the year title.

Free House (1997-98), Budroyale (1999), and Tiznow (2000-01) won titles after winning or placing in the nation's most important races, including the Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup. Even the 2002 winner, Continental Red, helped his cause with a stakes win at Sam Houston Race Park last December.

This year, Excessivepleasure is the only leading candidate for Cal-bred horse of the year to take his act on the road, winning the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, and the WinStar Derby at Sunland Park.

His two leading opponents for the title have largely had regional campaigns.

Joey Franco has won four stakes, at Del Mar and Hollywood Park, while Sky Jack has made only three starts, highlighted by a win in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in August.

Of the trio, only Sky Jack is starting on Saturday's California Cup program at Santa Anita. A 7-year-old gray gelding, he will be favored in the $250,000 Classic, a race he won in 2000.

A victory by Sky Jack would enhance his chances for the horse of the year title, an election that will take place in early January by a vote of California Thoroughbred Breeders Association members.

Saturday's California Cup will help to determine champions in several categories in a season marked by parity.

Here is a glance at the eight equine divisions, with the leading candidates and their accomplishments this year.

Older males

1. Joey Franco

Pedigree: Avenue of Flags-Susan Powter, by Native Prospector

Breeder: Jerry Frankel

Owner: Jerry Frankel

Trainers: David Hofmans and Darrell Vienna

2. Sky Jack

Pedigree: Jaklin Klugman-Sky Captive, by Skywalker

Breeder: Rene and Margie Lambert

Owner: Rene and Margie Lambert

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

3. Grey Memo

Pedigree: Memo-B. Mozelle, by Snow Chief

Breeder: Ridgeley Farm

Owner: Ron Manzini, Ridgeley Farm, Russ Sarno

Trainer: Warren Stute

Joey Franco was at his best in the spring and summer, winning the Grade 1 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar. Add two wins in minor stakes, and his accomplishments may be enough to seal the title.

Sky Jack will gain sentimental support if he wins Saturday's Classic, having overcome knee surgery to return to racing earlier this year.

Grey Memo has placed in four major races this year, but is winless in six starts.

Older females

1. Cee's Elegance

Pedigree: Cee's Tizzy-Elegant Beauty, by Norcliffe

Breeder: Cecilia Straub-Rubens

Owner: Cees Stable

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

2. Shalini

Pedigree: Urgent Request-Code it Nikki, by Falstaff

Breeder: Jim and Richard Briere

Owner: Jim and Richard Briere

Trainer: Craig Dollase

3. Centerofattention

Pedigree: Beau Genius-Crowning Faith, by Spend a Buck

Breeder: Ross Harris

Owner: Dennis and Norine Grenier

Trainer: Eric Kruljac

Cee's Elegance may have clinched the title with her win in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park in early July. The likely favorite in Saturday's Matron, Cee's Elegance was second in the Sunshine Millions Distaff here in January and won the B. Thoughtful Stakes on Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park in April.

Shalini won the Fran's Valentine and Valkyr Stakes and was second to Continental Red in the Quicken Tree Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in June, a point certain to attract the attention of voters. She starts in Saturday's $100,000 Distance Handicap.

Centerofattention won the Solana Beach and Luther Burbank handicaps during the summer. She goes for her third stakes win in Saturday's $150,000 Distaff on the hillside turf course.


1. Joey Franco

Pedigree: Avenue of Flags-Susan Powter, by Native Prospector

Breeder: Jerry Frankel

Owner: Jerry Frankel

Trainers: David Hofmans and Darrell Vienna

2. Disturbingthepeace

Pedigree: Bold Badgett-Regal Riot, by Sovereign Dancer

Breeder: Old English Rancho and Patsy McKuen

Owner: David and Rita Milch and Herrick Racing

Trainer: Darrell Vienna

3. Excess Summer

Pedigree: In Excess-Summer Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus

Breeder: Eddie Gregson and Edward Hand

Owner: Conboy, McClanahan and Wineman, et al.

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

Joey Franco scored three of his stakes wins around one turn, including the Grade 1 Triple Bend over seven furlongs. In March, he finished second to Bluesthestandard in the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap. Last month, Bluesthestandard finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Disturbingthepeace won the Pat O'Brien and finished third in the General George Stakes at Laurel and Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita. He will be hurt by his absence from the Cal Cup because of injury.

Excess Summer deserves mention for his outstanding win in the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar in August. He will be well-backed in Saturday's Sprint.

Turf horse

1. Continental Red

Pedigree: Flying Continental-Sharp Looking Lady, by Glaros

Breeders: Sharon and Wes Fitzpatrick

Owner: Sharon and Wes Fitzpatrick

Trainer: Ian Jory

2. Adminniestrator

Pedigree: Incinderator-Admiral Minnie, by Golden Eagle II

Breeder: Fred Sahadi

Owner: Nico Nierenberg

Trainer: Paddy Gallagher

3. Road to Slew

Pedigree: Slewpy-Plumeria Lei, by Bold Tropic

Breeder: Nick Cafarchia

Owner: Nick Cafarchia

Trainer: Craig Dollase

The division lacks a standout, leaving voters to chose between top candidates Adminniestrator, Continental Red and Road to Slew, all stakes winners.

Adminniestrator won the Sunshine Millions Turf in a desperate finish and was third in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap in March before being sidelined by injury.

Continental Red had erratic form early in the year, but was better in the summer. Aside from the Quicken Tree, he finished second in the Del Mar Handicap and third in the Sunset Handicap. He starts in Saturday's Mile.

Road to Slew won the Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita in March but lacks a recent start.


1. Excessivepleasure

Pedigree: In Excess-Pleasing, by Falstaff

Breeder: Cypress Farms 1991 and Vessels Stallion Farm

Owner: Ty and Leroy Leatherman and Genevive Sutalo

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

2. Excess Summer

Pedigree: In Excess-Summer Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus

Breeder: Eddie Gregson and Edward Hand

Owner: Conboy, McClanahan, and Wineman, et al

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

3. Chief Planner

Pedigree: General Meeting-Flag of Freedom, by Fappiano

Breeder: John and Betty Mabee

Owner: Golden Eagle Farm

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Excessivepleasure has the highest earnings of a California-bred this year, banking $789,982 with 3 wins in 8 starts. He is bound for the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park next week, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Chief Planner beat Excessivepleasure by seven lengths in the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park in April, but he was turned out in the middle of the summer because of injury.

Excess Summer had an impressive late-season campaign, winning three consecutive stakes - the Real Good Deal and El Cajon at Del Mar and the Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park.

3-year-old fillies

1. Valentine Dancer

Pedigree: In Excess-Gilded Dancer, by Mr. Prospector

Breeder: Al and Sandee Kirkwood

Owner: Al and Sandee Kirkwood

Trainer: Craig Lewis

2. Bartok's Blithe

Pedigree: Bartok-Merry Krisoke, by Roanoke

Breeder: Morry Cohen

Owner: 5C Racing Stable

Trainer: Jorge Gutierrez

3. Amber Hills

Pedigree: Bold Badgett-Princess of Honey, by Lord Avie

Breeder: SLU, Inc.

Owners: Curt and Lila Lanning

Trainer: Ed Moger Jr.

This division lacks a standout, with Amber Hills, Bartok's Blithe, Tucked Away, and Valentine Dancer all having won stakes in California this year.

Valentine Dancer may have a slight edge with four victories and earnings of $237,666. Her lone stakes win came in the Harold Ramser Handicap against open company on Oct. 12.

Bartok's Blithe won the $200,000 Melair Stakes in April, but was fourth behind Tucked Away in the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar in July. She will try to rebound in the Matron, but has drawn the rail.

2-year-old colts or geldings

1. Don'tsellmeshort

Pedigree: Benchmark-Miss Soft Sell, by Siyah Kalem

Breeder: Mary Caldwell

Owner: Cecil Peacock

Trainer: Dan Hendricks

2. Race for Glory

Pedigree: Cape Town-Charming Gal, by Slew's Royalty

Breeder: Shields Thoroughbreds

Owner: Bob and Beverly Lewis

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

3. P Town John

Pedigree: Smokester-Sochi, by Prized

Breeder: Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan

Owner: Golden State Racing

Trainer: Jeff Bonde

Don'tsellmeshort can secure the title if he wins the California Cup Juvenile. Earlier in the summer, he won the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar and the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Park.

Race for Glory won the Cavonnier Stakes on Oct. 1, but he was eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He is not starting in the California Cup.

P Town John, the winner of the Beau Brummel Stakes at Fairplex Park, is another Cal Cup Juvenile contender.

2-year-old fillies

1. Tizdubai

Pedigree: Cee's Tizzy-Cee's Song, by Seattle Song

Breeder: Cee's Stable

Owner: Darley Stud Management

Trainer: Eoin Harty

2. Dirty Diana

Pedigree: Flying Continental-Chelsea Fields, by Bataan

Breeder: Stein Stable

Owner: Karl Watson and Weipman Performance

Trainer: Bob Baffert

3. House of Fortune

Pedigree: Free House-So Fortunate, by Garthorn

Breeder: John Treasure

Owner: Arnold Zetcher

Trainer: Ron McAnally

House of Fortune runs in Saturday's Juvenile Fillies. She won the Cover Gal Stakes in her stakes debut on Oct. 1.

She needs a win to have any chance of surpassing Tizdubai, who won the Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar but is out for the year with injury. Dirty Diana will receive votes, following her win in the CTBA and second in the Sorrento.