05/23/2003 12:00AM

El Sysco Kid's day in sun must wait


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Ernie Retamoza wishes he could be part of the festivities here Monday - and he is not talking about anything involving Memorial Day celebrations.

Retamoza most likely would have had the favorite for the Monday feature, the $150,000 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes, but El Sysco Kid recently got sick, forcing the trainer to wait for the Bashford Manor on July 6.

Many fans have been eagerly awaiting the reappearance of El Sysco Kid since the colt finished second in his career debut in the Three Chimneys Juvenile on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard. Retamoza announced his regrets Friday, saying the colt "got to coughing and running a little temperature. We'll wait for the Bashford Manor, then go on to Saratoga with him."

Retamoza, 59, has won three stakes at Churchill, including the 1991 Debutante with a first-time starter, Greenhaven Lane. He strongly believes that El Sysco Kid could be the best horse he has ever trained in a racetrack career that includes 10 years as a jockey and nine years as an assistant under Jack Van Berg.

"He's as good as any horse I've been around in my 42 years on the track," said Retamoza, who added that he has turned down "quite a few nice offers" for the colt.

"I own 70 percent of him, but I've already got a roof over my head," he said. "I'd kind of like to be in the driver's seat with this one. He's the real deal."

El Sysco Kid, by Sea of Secrets, was the longest shot at 24-1 in the Three Chimneys. He shot to the lead and held on gamely, finishing second by 1 1/4 lengths to the victorious Limehouse.

With El Sysco Kid out, the 5 1/2-furlong Kentucky BC is expected to get Another Freddy, Cuvee, Exploit Lad, Voladero, and probably another three or four starters.

Derby also-ran Offlee Wild breezes

Offlee Wild had his first breeze since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby, going five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Friday. Robby Albarado, who rode Offlee Wild in the Derby, was aboard for the work, which trainer T.V. Smith later said "went well."

"The horse seems to be doing as good as can possibly be expected," Smith said. "There are several races we're taking a look at, but nothing definite has been decided."

Smith said the most logical next start for Offlee Wild could come June 14 in the Northern Dancer at Churchill or the Leonard Richards at Delaware, or on June 21 in the Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

Domestic Dispute might try turf

Domestic Dispute, unraced since finishing 10th in the Derby, had his first breeze over grass, going an easy half-mile Thursday in 54 seconds.

Trainer Paddy Gallagher, in from California, said the next possible start for Domestic Dispute could come June 7 in the $200,000 Jefferson Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race.

"He was kind of knocked around a bit after the Derby, so we just wanted him to stretch his legs a bit," said Gallagher.

The Derby was Domestic Dispute's first race for Gallagher, whose clients David Bienstock and Chuck Winner purchased the colt from Gary Garber a week before the race. Domestic Dispute previously was trained by Bob Baffert.

Sand N Surf wins fourth in a row

Sand N Surf notched her fourth straight victory, turning back first Meteor Miracle and then Vicki Vallencourt to win the Thursday feature at Churchill, a $51,200 allowance race, by 1 1/4 lengths.

Sand N Surf was ridden by Cornelio Velasquez and is trained by Baffert. She paid $3.60 in a field of six filly-mare sprinters.

Sand N Surf, owned by Charles Heider, lost her career debut last year at Hollywood, then reeled off three straight wins at Santa Anita this winter before Baffert made her part of his Churchill string.

Triple Crown bobblehead giveaways

It seems that bobblehead mania includes not only the people who have accomplished great things in racing but also the horses.

Churchill announced this week that it will be giving away bobbleheaded replicas of the last three Triple Crown winners on upcoming weekend dates at the spring meet. An Affirmed bobblehead will be given away on May 31; a Seattle Slew on June 8; and a Secretariat on June 21.

* A victory by Screenplay in the fifth race here Wednesday created an opportunity for Churchill officials to note that the winning owner has strong ties to the track's long history. Screenplay is owned by a partnership headed by Richard Herrmann, whose great-grandfather was Col. Matt Winn, the legendary track president known as "Mr. Derby."