08/01/2005 12:00AM

Exam shows Pico Central bled in Crosby

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What a Song (left), under excerise rider Dana Barnes, works fast at Del Mar on Monday with stablemate Preachinman Dan and rider Victor Espinoza.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Pico Central, last in Sunday's $300,000 , was found to have bled from the lungs in a postrace examination and might have run his last race, trainer Paulo Lobo said Monday.

Pico Central was never a factor in the Grade 1 Crosby Handicap as the 5-2 favorite. He finished last of nine, 12 lengths behind the winner, Greg's Gold.

"There was a lot of blood in the throat and trachea," Lobo said.

Scheduled to go to stud at Padua Stables in Florida in 2006, Pico Central has won 9 of 17 starts and $1,283,145.

Lobo said it was unclear whether Pico Central would start later this year. The Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park in October, a race that Pico Central won in 2004, had been mentioned as a 2005 goal.

"We'll wait a few days and make a decision," Lobo said.

In 2004, Pico Central was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. Aside from the Vosburgh, he won the San Carlos, Carter, and Metropolitan handicaps.

Air Ace gives Stetson first win

The highly promising juvenile Air Ace lived up to expectations with a maiden win in his debut in Sunday's sixth race, giving owner John Connelly's Stetson Land and Cattle Company its first winner.

"First of many, John. First of many," trainer Bob Baffert told Connelly in the winner's circle.

Air Ace ($4) disputed the lead throughout the 5 1/2 furlongs and scored by three-quarters of a length over pacesetter Bengal Lore, timed in 1:04.06. Bengal Lore and Air Ace fought through fractions of 21.84 and 44.59 seconds.

"He needed it. He got tired," Baffert said of Air Ace. "They went fast early. When 2-year-olds go 44 [seconds] and change, that guts them."

Connelly said he has been involved in racing since early 2004. He said he was the underbidder on Atlantic Ocean when that stakes-winning filly was sold in early 2004. Baffert trained Atlantic Ocean, which is how he and Connelly met.

Air Ace was purchased for $450,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale in 2004.

"We're expecting a lot from him," Connelly said. "He's got legs like tree trunks and a lot of determination."

Stetson Land and Cattle Company in Orland, Calif., has existed since 1900, Connelly said. Stetson Land and Cattle has two 2-year-olds, including Rising Rate, who was scratched from Sunday's maiden race.

Air Ace is by Forest Camp, a stallion whom Baffert trained and who won the 1999 Del Mar Futurity. Forest Camp was Baffert's fourth consecutive winner in the Futurity, a streak he later extended to seven races.

Girl Warrior gets back in the gate

Girl Warrior, who in the space of four months and four starts went from a maiden to a Grade 2 stakes winner, will make her first start since January in the Grade 2, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap for older fillies and mares on Sunday, trainer Neil Drysdale said Monday at Del Mar.

A daughter of Elusive Quality, Girl Warrior arrived in this country last year winless in four starts in Great Britain. But after switching to the dirt, she quickly ascended the class ladder. She won a maiden race at Del Mar in September, an allowance race at Hollywood Park in December, and then captured the El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita in January.

Following that race, however, Girl Warrior had a sore ankle, according to Drysdale. In recent weeks, she "has been training very well," he said.

"I'm very pleased with her," Drysdale said. "She does well here."

Last summer, in her first start on dirt and in this country, Girl Warrior scored an 11-1 upset.

"We felt like she'd do better on dirt," Drysdale said. "Elusive Qualitys seem to do better on dirt. When we first started training her on dirt, she trained well, and she's just progressed and improved."

A small field is likely for the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch. Among those definite for the race are Alphabet Kisses (David Flores the rider) and Valentine Dancer (Jon Court), who finished one-two in last month's seven-furlong A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park. Tucked Away (Alex Solis) is also likely to run.

Hollywood Story, who was fifth in the Vanity Handicap in her last start and finished second in the Del Mar Debutante two years ago, is possible. John Shirreffs, who trains Hollywood Story, said owner George Krikorian had yet to decide whether to run.

What a Song sizzles in Best Pal work

What a Song, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, flew through a six-furlong work from the gate in 1:10.80 on Monday morning in preparation for the Grade 2, $150,000 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 14. Unbeaten in two starts, What a Song is trained by Baffert.

Megahertz, preparing for a start in the Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 13, breezed six furlongs in 1:15.20 on Sunday morning.

Also working Sunday was Fourty Niners Son, the runner-up in the Eddie Read Handicap. He breezed four furlongs on turf in 50.60 seconds. Drysdale, his trainer, said Fourty Niners Son would make his next start in the Arlington Million on Aug. 13.

Souvenir Gift, 3 for 5, is retired

Souvenir Gift, a two-time stakes winner in 2004, has been retired because of a lingering neck injury, trainer and co-owner Sam Semkin said.

Souvenir Gift, 3, has not started since finishing second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in August 2004.

Semkin said Souvenir Gift had a deformity in a vertebra.

"We messed around and couldn't figure out what it was," he said. "We figured out it was neurological. The success rate is not really that high for that kind of operation."

Co-owned by Greg Unruh, Souvenir Gift won 3 of 5 starts and $211,760. She won two sprints at Hollywood Park in the spring and summer of 2004 - the Cinderella Stakes and Landaluce Stakes.

Semkin said a decision has not been made on whether to breed Souvenir Gift or sell her.

Cal Cup winner Cozy Guy healing

Cozy Guy, the winner of the 2004 California Cup Classic, is showing signs of improvement after a nearly monthlong battle with a liver ailment.

Trainer Dan Hendricks said Cozy Guy was recently transferred from the San Luis Rey Equine Clinic to Burma Ridge Farm in Fallbrook, Calif., to continue his recovery.

Hendricks said that Cozy Guy, 4, is no longer being treated with antibiotics. The cause of the illness is unknown.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but he's able to go to the farm," Hendricks said. "The prognosis is better."

* A viewing for former jockey agent Chick McClellan, who died last week, will be held Thursday from 3-7 p.m. at Turner and Stevens Live Oak Memorial Park and Mortuary at E. 200 Duarte Road in Monrovia, near Santa Anita. A private service for the family will be held Friday.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman