07/31/2003 11:00PM

Golden Apples commits to Beverly D.


CHICAGO - Golden Apples will return to defend her title in the Grade 1 Beverly D., her trainer, Ben Cecil, confirmed early Thursday evening from California.

Last year's female turf champion, Golden Apples was away from racing for more than seven months. She made her comeback last weekend in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar, where she finished in a strange triple dead heat for place. Dublino and Tates Creek sandwiched Golden Apples at the Mabee finish, and, unable to determine her position relative to those two opponents, the placing judges awarded her a tie for second.

Her performance was more than good enough for Cecil and owner Gary Tanaka to go on to the Beverly D., which had been the main summer objective all along for Golden Apples.

"I had her pretty tight for that race purposely because the Beverly D. was back in three weeks and I didn't want to have to do too much between now and then," Cecil said. "She'll have two little short breezes before shipping the Thursday before the race."

Golden Apples could be the Beverly D. favorite with the injury and defection of Ipi Tombe this week. "I wasn't disappointed at all to hear Ipi Tombe wouldn't be running," said Cecil.

Golden Apples has won three Grade 1's since being imported from her native Ireland in 2001. She parlayed victories in the Beverly D. and Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon into her championship last year, which came despite a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Idle since a narrow loss in the Matriarch on Dec. 1, Golden Apples turned in her typical top-class performance in the Mabee despite being involved in what Cecil termed a "pretty weird race."

"There was no pace, and then it turned into a two-furlong sprint," he said. "She may have been a little fresh. I believed she'd win first time back because of the way she'd trained."

Cecil said that Gary Stevens, who took over for Patrick Valenzuela in the Mabee, would get a return call here next month.

Sue's Good News had alibi at Delaware

Trainer Steve Hobby was congratulating himself on a nice piece of horse management. He had needed a spot to run his undefeated 3-year-old filly, Sue's Good News, and had found one July 19 at Delaware Park. Sue's Good News was running for a $500,000 purse and was 3-1 to win the Delaware Oaks.

And then the race began.

Sue's Good News never picked up the bit and finished a distant sixth in a deflating performance. In fact, her race was over before the gates had sprung. Jockey Tim Doocy returned and told Hobby that Sue's Good News had warmed up listlessly and never exerted herself.

"She tied up," Hobby said. "That's exactly the way she acts before she ties up. I've never had one tie up between the paddock and the gate, but I've heard about it, and that's what happened. We took blood the next day and it was off the charts."

Tying up is a fairly common problem among racehorses, especially fillies, and Sue's Good News has done it before during morning training. A horse's muscles basically lock up and prevent them from moving properly, but soon the condition passes with no lasting physical effect.

So it is with Sue's Good News, whom Hobby intends to breeze here Saturday and run next weekend in the Singapore Plate Stakes.

"That race took absolutely nothing out of her, and she's fine now," Hobby said. "I've completely changed her feed program. Nutrition is a big part of why they tie up."

Hobby had another stakes loss last weekend with Chindi, who was a close fourth in the Don Bernhardt at Ellis Park. "There was no pace in the race," Hobby said. "He ran his race but they didn't come back to him."

Entry-level allowance serves as feature

It's a stretch to term it as such, but the eighth race is the featured event on Arlington's Sunday program.

These are just first-level allowance horses, and there are only six of them, but the rest of the card consists of claimers, maidens or statebreds. There is a second-level statebred allowance, the fourth, where Cat on the Grass should lead all the way at a short price.

The eighth is at nine furlongs on dirt, and the race may boil down to a matchup between Double Slam and Ugottaseethisplace, horses with wholly different histories. Less than six months ago, Ugottaseethisplace was running for a $7,500 claiming price at Oaklawn, but he has steadily improved throughout the year and has turned in two competitive allowance tries for trainer Mike Reavis in the last six weeks.

Double Slam was touted as a live first-time starter when he made his debut in a two-turn race Feb. 17 at Fair Grounds, but he was no match for another first-timer, Herculated. Double Slam made short work of maiden route horses in his second start, and after three losses - two in one-turn dirt miles, the last at two turns on turf - Double Slam gets back to a true dirt route for trainer Steve Asmussen.