08/07/2002 11:00PM

Falcon Flight likely to be 13th Million pre-entry


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Falcon Flight breezed to the satisfaction of trainer Donald Burke on Thursday at Del Mar and will be pre-entered Friday in the Arlington Million. Falcon Flight's inclusion brings the number of likely Million pre-entries to 13.

In his last start, Falcon Flight returned from a 10-month layoff and won the Arlington Handicap, only the second win of Burke's training career. The other came here last summer when Falcon Flight won the Stars and Stripes Handicap.

Falcon Flight came out of his win in good physical condition and his easy five-furlong breeze over the Del Mar turf course was just what Burke hoped for. But there are reasons not to shoot for the Million. Falcon Flight never has beaten horses of the caliber he would face at Arlington, and his owner, Gary Tanaka, already has one of the favorites for the race in Sarafan, winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read in his last race.

Tanaka also has one of the favorites for the Beverly D., Golden Apples, and reportedly is involved in negotiations to purchase a potential Secretariat starter, Della Francesca.

"We're going to pre-enter Falcon Flight, but that doesn't mean we have to run," said Burke, who also is considering the Del Mar Handicap for his horse. "The plane leaves Thursday and he'll work Wednesday."

If Falcon Flight comes for the race, leading rider Rene Douglas probably will ride him. If Falcon Flight stays home Douglas could end up on the Illinois-bred Mystery Giver.

While the California contingent arrives late next week, Europeans intended for Million Day races begin arriving Saturday. The first shipment of five Europeans - Tobougg, Ulundi and Freefourinternet for the Million; Golden Silca for the Beverly D.; and Love Regardless for the Secretariat - are scheduled to reach Arlington on Saturday.

The Europeans will remain under strict quarantine regulations from the time they arrive at O'Hare International Airport. They're allowed to train each morning at Arlington but must be kept away from other horses.

Cowboy Stuff's options remain open

Cowboy Stuff, impressive winner of the Round Table Stakes in his last start, is likely headed either to Prairie Meadows or Remington Park for his next race. At Prairie Meadows, Cowboy Stuff would run in a stakes restricted to Iowa-breds. The stakes at Remington would be much higher - the Grade 3, $250,000-added Oklahoma Derby on Aug. 25.

Judging from his win in the Round Table and his present condition, Cowboy Stuff would fit in the Oklahoma Derby. Before the Round Table, Cowboy Stuff was unproven in open stakes company, but he beat a good field by two lengths, leading all the way while clocking the fastest nine-furlong time of the meet.

As fast as he ran July 27, the strapping Cowboy Stuff is none the worse for wear. "He's trained really good," said trainer Don Von Hemel's assistant, Thad Keller, while putting bandages on Cowboy Stuff's legs Thursday morning. "He gallops good and he's eating good. He's really held his flesh."

Keller said Cowboy Stuff is scheduled to have a "comfortable" five-furlong breeze here Friday, with a decision on his next start upcoming.

Minor Wisdom's injury likely not career-ending

Minor Wisdom came out of nose loss in a July 26 allowance race here with a fractured sesamoid and won't race again this season. But the damage to Minor Wisdom's right front leg was relatively benign for an injury of this sort.

"It's a non-displaced fracture and there's no suspensory damage," said trainer Richie Scherer. "They don't even suggest operating on it, just stall rest. If all goes well he can resume training on January 1."

Minor Wisdom is one of the better Illinois-bred turf horses to surface in recent seasons. Owned by Carolyn Friedberg, Minor Wisdom has earned more than $530,000, and just last fall he won the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile at Kentucky Downs.

"It's a real hole in my barn," Scherer said. "He's been with me for five years now."

Backstretch car accident claims man's life

Rosalio Canteria was killed on the Arlington backstretch Wednesday evening when he was hit by a car.

Canteria, 38, was sitting on a bucket when the car struck him. The Daily Herald, a suburban newspaper, reported that the car's driver apparently stepped on the gas pedal when he intended to use the brakes.

Neither alcohol nor foul play was suspected in the death.

Gardenia overshadows Mariah's Storm

Sunday's feature, the Mariah's Storm, butts heads with the Gardenia Handicap on Saturday at Ellis Park. Since the Gardenia is a Grade 3 with a $200,000 purse and the Mariah's Storm an overnight handicap with a $50,000-added purse, there's no contest for the best horses, and the connections of five horses nominated to the Mariah's Storm will opt for the Gardenia instead.

A field of six or seven is expected here Sunday, with Miss Pickums and Leslie the likely choices.