10/24/2004 11:00PM

Give Sprint-less Pico Central a Cigar

Pico Central, a serious candidate for an Eclipse Award as the year's top sprinter, will ship cross-country for the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct next month.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Pico Central, who will not run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint because his owner balked at paying a $200,000 supplement, worked Sunday at Hollywood Park for the $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 27. Pico Central breezed a half-mile in 48.80 seconds, which tied for the 11th-fastest of 37 recorded works at the distance.

Lobo has a plan for four more workouts for Pico Central before the Cigar Mile and the horse's fourth cross-country trip this year.

Pico Central has already traveled from California to New York to win the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct in April, the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont in May, and the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont earlier this month. His first stakes win this year came in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita in March.

Those credentials have made him a top candidate for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding sprinter. Pico Central beat Speightstown in the Vosburgh Stakes, but a win in the BC Sprint by Speightstown, a four-time stakes winner this year, could give him the Eclipse Award.

Lobo is not concerned. He is focusing on the Cigar Mile for Pico Central, who has won 9 of 14 starts and $1,148,145.

"He's going very well," Lobo said. "He came back from the last race in very good shape."

Lobo will be an interested party this Saturday, but declined to offer an opinion on who will win the Sprint.

"I think it's a wide-open race," he said. "Who knows? Maybe next year we will try it."

In a way, that would make sense. The race is at Belmont, a track Pico Central has proven to like.

Viva Habaneros!

Three months ago, Habaneros seemed like an unlikely candidate to win a graded stakes. In his first start after a 15-month layoff, he won a $25,000 claimer on the first weekend of the Del Mar meeting.

But Habaneros improved as the season continued. He returned from the comeback to win a first-condition allowance race on dirt at Del Mar on Aug. 29, then finished second in a starter allowance over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 11.

With the California turf marathon division lacking in depth and quality this year, owner John Bell and his nephew, trainer Ray Bell, decided to try Habaneros in Saturday's $100,000 Carleton Burke Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Dismissed at 14-1, Habaneros took the early lead under jockey David Flores and held off a late run from Pellegrino to win by three-quarters of a length.

"He's a big powerful horse," Ray Bell said. "It's been 12 days since his last race. We didn't do a lot with him and we couldn't with the rain. I knew he'd appreciate the distance."

Before the race, Bell recalled that his father, Tom, had saddled the winner of the 1979 Burke, Silver Eagle. "I was an assistant for my father then," Bell said.

Silver Eagle's win came at the expense of John Henry, who was making his first start for trainer Ron McAnally. Within a year, John Henry had won eight stakes in California, Florida, and New York.

"John Henry went on and never looked back," Ray Bell said.

Capitano hits comeback trail

Earlier this year, Capitano was the top horse in Bell's stable.

Second in the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby in northern California earlier this year, Capitano has not started since July. Capitano emerged from the Swaps Stakes with what Bell thought was a bruised foot. An abscess later developed in his right fore foot, causing further delay to his campaign.

Sunday, Capitano worked a half-mile in 47.60 seconds. He should be back for the Strub Series for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita this winter.

Golden Dragon retired

Golden Dragon, who ran in two stakes earlier this year but was vanned off with a severe leg injury at Hollywood Park in June, has been retired to a farm in Monterrey, Calif.

Golden Dragon raced for Gary Biszantz and trainer Mike Puype. The day he was injured he was claimed by Ted H. West for $62,500. When the severity of the injury was realized - a displaced condylar fracture to the cannon bone of the right foreleg - Biszantz stepped forward and offered to take the horse back. Since there was no hope for a racing career, West agreed.

Biszantz incurred the cost of an operation to stabilize Golden Dragon's leg. After complications arose, Golden Dragon was kept at Puype's Hollywood Park stable until earlier this month, when he was shipped north.

Golden Dragon won 4 of 20 starts and $133,273. He finished 12th in the Frank Kilroe Mile and ninth in the Inglewood Handicap earlier this year. From now on, he'll only be a pleasure horse, Puype said.

"He's on a 50-acre farm," Puype said. "Maybe in another year, he can be ridden."

Declan's Moon on Prevue course

Declan's Moon, the upset winner over Roman Ruler in the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 8, remains on schedule for the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes over seven furlongs on Nov. 20.

Saturday, Declan's Moon breezed five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Hollywood Park. "That was as easy as he could go," trainer Ron Ellis said.

What's up in final week

Wednesday's card marks the start of the final week of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

There are two graded turf stakes on the final weekend - Saturday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course and Sunday's $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Cayoke, who won the El Cielo Handicap in March and the Brubaker Handicap at Del Mar in August, is a contender for the Monrovia.

The Las Palmas field is expected to include Good Student and Hoh Buzzard, who were fourth and sixth in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes on Oct. 2.

* Saturday's live racing card begins at 9:55 a.m. Pacific.