04/19/2007 11:00PM

Fitz Flag at full strength now

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - The walls of trainer Juan Reviriego's stable office on the Santa Anita backstretch offer a brief tour of his professional and personal life.

There are photos of Reviriego's career as a jockey and trainer in Argentina, photos of his wife and two daughters, and a few of Reviriego with celebrities such as Julio Iglesias, Rudolf Nureyev, and Willie Nelson.

One wall has a collection of win photos of his American racing stable, a highlight package of the three years that Reviriego, 61, has trained in California.

There is one horse missing from the latter group, Fitz Flag, Reviriego's top horse. Third in the 2005 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Fitz Flag could give Reviriego his first graded stakes win in the United States in Sunday's $250,000 San Juan Capistrano at the marathon distance of about 1 3/4 miles on turf.

A true stayer, Fitz Flag approaches the San Juan Capistrano in excellent physical condition, which has not been the case through much of his U.S. career, Reviriego said.

Owned by El Faruk Stable, Fitz Flag, 7, is making only his 16th career start in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano.

"I've been all my life with horses and you can never say a horse will win, but he'll run good for sure," Reviriego said. "I don't think the race is too hard. He has a very good chance. He's had problems all the time, but not in the last two months."

The winner of a Group 2 stakes in Argentina in 2004, Fitz Flag has one victory in eight starts in this country, an optional claimer at Turf Paradise last December. He was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by T.H. Approval in the 2005 San Juan Capistrano, and was fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles here on March 24.

Reviriego said that Fitz Flag was sick in early March and had an interrupted preparation for the San Luis Rey. Compared to March 2006, the setback was not a disappointment. Reviriego was preparing Fitz Flag for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap that month when an injury surfaced two days before the race.

Fitz Flag returned to racing last October, and has made only four starts since the comeback.

Reviriego arrived from Argentina in March 2004 with three horses. He has eight in his stable, with seven resting on a local farm and two more expected from Argentina later this month.

For the last 40 years, Reviriego has been a frequent visitor to the United States, working with trainers such as Arnold Winick, Angel Penna, and Horatio Luro.

Reviriego had his first American winner at Del Mar in 2004.

"One day, I said, 'I want to try training' " in the United States, he said. "When you do well in this country, everybody knows."

Everyone may know Reviriego and his horse on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Stormello goes mile in Derby prep

Stormello, preparing for the Kentucky Derby on May 5, worked a mile in 1:39 at Hollywood Park on Friday.

The runner-up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and fourth in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park last month, Stormello will have one more workout at Hollywood on Aprilo29 before being sent to Churchill Downs, trainer Bill Currin said.

Stormello had the only recorded workout at a mile on Friday. Typical of his recent training, Stormello started slowly, going the first furlong in 12 1/2 or 13 seconds, Currin said.

"He made it up every step of the way," Currin said. "This morning I crept off in the first eighth. It was amazing. I was quite pleased with the work."

Currin is hoping that Stormello will not have the early lead in the Kentucky Derby, a style the colt has had for much of his career. Currin is concerned that a front-running style will reduce Stormello's chances of being effective at 1 1/4 miles. Kent Desormeaux will ride Stormello.

"It would be wise to take five or six months to train him that way," Currin said of a stalking style. "Kent knows the horse and knows him well."

Currin said Desormeaux will ride two stakes horses for him at Hollywood Park on April 29 - Freesgood in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes and Memorette in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes on turf.

The races are part of the California Gold Rush program for statebreds. The Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting begins on Wednesday.

The Wednesday program is led by the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. The race has drawn 15 nominations, including the stakes winners Charm the Giant and Singalong.

Proud Cecy's life in jeopardy

Proud Cecy, a full sister to Proud Tower Too, the winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen in 2006, suffered a sesamoid injury after a maiden race on turf on Thursday and may not survive the injury, trainer Sal Gonzalez said.

"They're trying to see if they can save her," Gonzalez said of advice from veterinarians. "The percentage of saving her is very slim. We'll go by what the doctors say."

Owned by Tricar Stable, Proud Cecy, 4, was winless in 23 starts, but her bloodlines make her valuable as a broodmare. She finished fourth as the 9-5 favorite in Thursday's eighth race and bobbled a few strides after the wire.

Superfecta pays less than $1

Who needs a cash machine at the racetrack when there are 10-cent superfectas available?

The 10-cent superfecta from Friday's first race returned a whopping 95 cents in a race that featured only four starters. Abbey Cat, Butterfly Belle, Miss Maestro, and Red Opal were scratched from a claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt that was originally scheduled for turf.

Because the race drew eight entrants, superfecta betting was available even though there were only four starters at post time.