01/20/2004 12:00AM

Ema Bovary to stay home for Orinda Handicap

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ALBANY, Calif. - Saturday's $60,000-added Orinda Handicap took on a new complexion when trainer Larry Ross said that he would enter Ema Bovary instead of running her in Sunday's Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Monica at Santa Anita.

When Island Fashion scratched from Sunday's El Encino at Santa Anita to join Got Koko and Sightseek in the Santa Monica, Ross decided to keep Ema Bovary home.

"I think it's just too tough a race for her at this time," Ross said. "I'm trying to do what's best for Ema, and I don't think it would be fair to her. Eventually, you want to try the best, but I think it would be better to test the waters in a Grade 3 first."

Ema Bovary has won six straight, including five stakes. She lost by a nose but was moved up on a disqualification in the Kalookan Queen in her last start, Dec. 31 at Santa Anita.

She will carry 123 pounds in the Orinda, spotting Dancewithavixen seven pounds. Pheiffer (115) and Amber Hills (114) will also run, but Jerry Hollendorfer trainees Christmas Time, Viansa Ossidiana, and Hippogator will pass the race with Ema Bovary in the lineup.

Farewell (it's just business)

There was a void in trainer Greg Gilchrist's barn last Thursday. Beyond Brilliant wasn't in his normal stall.

Making his first start in two months on Wednesday, Beyond Brilliant gamely won a $32,000 claimer by a nose while covering six furlongs in 1:09.31.

Trainer Terry Knight, who won a two-way shake with Kent Molinaro, claimed the 6-year-old Beyond Brilliant.

"I miss that old horse," Gilchrist said of Beyond Brilliant, a six-time stakes winner who won stakes in Delaware, Arizona, and California. "He was very good to everyone around this barn. He's a pretty honest old horse.

"It's obvious he was losing a step or two with the company he was running with. It was obvious we were going to lose him via the claim box some time.

"There was a $50,000 optional claimer on that card, but this was the right spot for him. We weren't the favorite."

The favorite was Smoke Till Dawn, who set a track record in his previous start. He ran fourth and went to Molinaro in a three-way shake.

Smoke Till Dawn set the early pace, but Beyond Brilliant wore him down. I'mallwilly quickly moved up to the outside Beyond Brilliant and stuck his head in front, but Beyond Brilliant had his nose in front at the wire.

"Terry takes excellent care of his horses," Gilchrist said. "It's just part of doing business. If you get too sentimental, you get separated from your money."

Free horse

Dan Franko planned to claim a horse Friday and put in a slip for Senfully Easy, winner of a $6,250 sprint, but lost the shake.

His second choice was Ozette Legend, a 3-year-old maiden filly in for an $8,000 tag. She had run second at Fresno in her second start but had not been closer than six lengths in her subsequent four starts.

Ozette Legend was going off at better than 30-1 when Franko prepared to drop his slip.

As Franko tells it, trainer Bob Hess, who had Kittybangbang entered in the race, "saw me filling out a form and asked if I was claiming his filly. I said I was claiming the 1, and he said I had to be kidding claiming a 30-1 shot from a maiden $8,000."

Franko got the last laugh as Ozette Legend lagged early, circled four wide and pulled away to win by three, while Hess's filly finished last.

Ozette Legend paid $59.60, and Franko not only put in a claim for her, he also bet $300 to win. His return of $8,940 paid for the filly.

"I saw that her breeding was grass-oriented," said Franko, 64. "I can't wait till there are some 3-year-old races on the grass for her."

Amedeo the likely pick

Amedeo, a wire-to-wire winner as the odds-on favorite in a $40,000 starter allowance race Dec. 31, is the one to beat in Thursday's feature, a $25,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

Amedeo was claimed for $32,000 in her maiden victory at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23 and was second at 2-5 in a starter allowance there before heading north.

She will face pace pressure from Spicy Cajun and will have to hold off Ugotadowhatugotado late.

Rivera due back

Jockey Jose Luis Rivera Jr. suffered chest bruises but no broken bones after a spill aboard Brave Solution in Sunday's sixth race at Golden Gate Fields. Rivera was examined and released at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, Calif. He is expected to resume riding Thursday.

Brave Solution, a 3-year-old colt, had fatal injuries and was euthanized.