10/05/2007 11:00PM

Flip Flop, Dreams get class relief

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Flip Flop and Dreams, both of whom have found graded stakes company a bit too steep, will take a slight class drop Monday in hopes of returning to the winner's circle in the restricted Swingtime Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Flip Flop is winless in eighth starts, all in graded stakes races, since winning a money-allowance race at Del Mar in July 2005. This will be her first start since April, when she finished eighth of 10 in the Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Dreams recently returned from a seven-month layoff to finish fifth of nine in the Palomar Handicap at Del Mar. She is winless in five starts since capturing consecutive races at Del Mar in summer 2006.

The Swingtime - a one-mile grass race for older fillies and mares with a $65,000 purse - also lured Double Trouble, who was third as the favorite in Del Mar's Osunitas Handicap in July, and Sweet Belle, who upset Double Trouble in a fourth-level allowance race at Del Mar on Aug. 17.

Also on Monday's card is a seven-furlong optional-claiming sprint that matches the veteran stakes winner Publication against Fly Dorcego, a promising Brazilian import who owns a win and a close third in two starts in this country. That goes as race 5.

Driver sentenced in Garcia crash

The drunken driver who caused the crash that severed the left arm Noe Garcia, groom of Lava Man, was sentenced last week in northern San Diego County to five years in prison, the Associated Press reported.

Heriberto Castillo pleaded guilty in September to driving under the influence and causing great bodily injury to Garcia, 39, in an accident that occurred the morning of July 23 while Garcia was en route to work at Del Mar.

Garcia, speaking through an interpreter at the sentencing, told Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman that because of the accident, "I lost my job. I lost my arm. I am not well physically or psychologically. My children and my wife are greatly affected by this."

Prosecutor Rick Watson told the judge "this was one of the worst cases" of drunken driving that one could imagine.

Castillo, 24, had a blood-alcohol level of .19 percent when tested after his arrest, Watson said. The legal limit in California is .08 percent. Castillo had been in the United States illegally for about five years, according to a report filed by the county Probation Department. He had a bag of marijuana with him and was driving without a license, the report stated. Castillo had no prior criminal record, the AP reported.

Trainers fined for Bute violations

Trainers A.C. Avila and John Sadler were fined by Oak Tree's stewards late Friday as a result of horses they ran at Del Mar that tested positive for excessive amounts of the medication Phenylbutazone, commonly known as Bute.

Avila was cited for Oceanus, who finished seventh in the fifth race on July 29. Because it was Avila's third offense, he was fined $1,500.

Sadler was cited for Tale of the Scale, who won the third race on Aug. 3. He was fined $400.

The stewards also announced that trainer Mike Puhich has been placed on probation for one year for "repeated violations" of California Horse Racing Board rules related to financial responsibility and checks.

* E Z's Gentleman missed last week's Norfolk Stakes after suffering a chip in a sesamoid bone during a workout, trainer Ron McAnally said. He said E Z's Gentleman would return next year at age 3.

* The Thoroughbred Owners of California will host a conformation clinic Oct. 20 at Santa Anita, beginning at 10 a.m., in which owners can visit trainers and learn the physical characteristics of successful horses. For more information call (626) 574-6620.