10/03/2005 11:00PM

'Ghost' shifts goal to Sprint

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After bleeding in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Lava Man may aim for the Cal Cup Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Gotaghostofachance might have given Rock Hard Ten a better fight last Saturday in the Goodwood Handicap than Roman Ruler, but he never got the chance. Rather than set the pace in the Goodwood, Gotaghostofachance trained listlessly into the race and trainer Roger Stein had no choice but to scratch him.

"Maybe it all happened for a good reason," Stein said Tuesday after Gotaghostofachance bounced back with a sharp three-furlong work.

So rather than stretch his speed one month in front of the Breeders' Cup Classic, Gotaghostofachance will refocus and try to earn his way into the BC Sprint by running in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Stakes at six furlongs this Saturday.

"Even though Lost in the Fog would be tough, I think we would have a better chance against him than to run a mile and a quarter," said Stein, referring to the BC Classic.

First things first. Gotaghostofachance, runner-up in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap on Aug. 21 at Del Mar, worked Tuesday in 35.80 seconds.

"I had him fit to go a mile and an eighth," Stein said, adding that the short work was designed as a sharpener. Gotaghostofachance will be supplemented to the Ancient Title for $5,000, and if he runs well, Stein said owners Ross McLeod and Charles Ming reason would consider supplementing him to the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Indian Country, upset winner of the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap on Sept. 7 at Del Mar, also is expected to be supplemented to the Ancient Title. Previously run as a handicap, the $250,000 Ancient Title will be run this year under weight-for-age conditions. The expected field includes Bear in the Woods, Bilo, Captain Squire, McCann's Mojave, and Zanzibar. Captain Squire worked five furlongs Tuesday in 59.60; Bear in the Woods worked a bullet three furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 35.00.

Hendricks says Brother Derek will improve

The 81 Beyer Figure that Brother Derek earned Sunday in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes was the slowest Norfolk in the 14 years Beyer Figures have been published. It guarantees he will be a fat price in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and if trainer Dan Hendricks is right, the colt has a shot.

"He will move up five lengths from that race," Hendricks said.

Why should he?

"He got a little rank into the first turn, and I don't think he wants to run on the front end," Hendricks said. "The one-turn mile and a sixteenth is perfect; he can sit behind the speed."

Brother Derek, who has had foot problems, will train barefoot for a few days and put glue-on shoes back on this weekend. He will remain at Santa Anita until about a week before the Breeders' Cup.

Hendricks said that Irish Bar remains on target for the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile, and that Runaway Dancer will be considered for the Grade 3 Carleton F. Burke on Oct. 30.

Minister Eric's comeback abandoned

Minister Eric, winner of the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes in February and runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2003, has been retired. The 4-year-old Minister Eric had chips removed from both ankles after the San Fernando, and was ready for a comeback this summer at Del Mar when he contracted pneumonia.

"We're going to send him to stud," Mandella said, noting the horse would have needed four months off before he could resume training.

Mandella said negotiations were underway regarding where Minister Eric would stand. A son of Old Trieste, Minister Eric retires with 3 wins and purse earnings of $562,771 from 12 starts for owner Gerald Ford.

Cal Cup for Lava Man, Dream of Summer

California-bred Grade 1 winners Lava Man and Dream of Summer are out of the Breeders' Cup, and instead under consideration for the California Cup on Nov. 6. Lava Man finished seventh in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park last Saturday.

"He bled a 3 out of 5," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "If he ships again, he needs to be there early and get settled in."

Lava Man, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, will aim for either the $250,000 California Cup Classic or the Japan Cup Dirt.

Juan Garcia-trained Dream of Summer finished sixth in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont.

"The Breeders' Cup [Distaff] is definitely out. She didn't handle the track at all," assistant trainer Victor Garcia said.

Dream of Summer, winner of the Apple Blossom early this year, will be considered for the $150,000 California Cup Matron.

Harty has another nice juvenile

The runner-up finish by A.P. Warrior in the Norfolk Stakes earned him consideration for the BC Juvenile, but he is not the only promising 2-year-old trained by Eoin Harty and owned by Stan Fulton. Twisting Road, a $300,000 son of Giant's Causeway, finished a troubled third in his debut in the ninth race Saturday.

"I think he's a pretty nice horse; I don't have any reservations about him running two turns," Harty said.

Twisting Road broke from the rail in the six-furlong sprint, steadied early, and trailed the rest of the field after a half-mile. He rallied wide and finished strongly for third. As for A.P. Warrior, Harty said he would return to the track Thursday.

"I want to make sure he's all right before making a commitment one way or the other," Harty said regarding the Breeders' Cup.

Mandella's former assistants flourish

Richard Mandella's influence will be all over the Breeders' Cup, even with just one confirmed starter, Rock Hard Ten in the Classic, and one possible starter, Laura's Lucky Boy, in the Turf. Including the comeback win by Rock Hard Ten, four Breeders' Cup prep races over the weekend were won by either Mandella or one of his former assistants.

Trainers Beau Greeley (Borrego, Jockey Club Gold Cup), Dan Hendricks (Brother Derek, Norfolk Stakes), and Gary Mandella (Taste of Paradise, Vosburgh) all came up under Mandella.

"It's no wonder I made it with help like that," Mandella said. "They're like family, all of them."

One of them actually is family - Gary Mandella is the 33-year-old son of Richard Mandella.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen