01/01/2003 12:00AM

Golden Apples undergoes surgery

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Golden Apples, the leading contender for the 2002 Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding turf female, began a vacation at a local farm this week after recently undergoing arthroscopic surgery to have bone chips removed from her ankles.

Trainer Ben Cecil said that Golden Apples will be away from the racetrack for at least a month, and is unlikely to start until the middle of the year. Her main goals for 2003 are the Ramona Handicap at Del Mar, the Beverly D. at Arlington Park, and the Yellow Ribbon and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in the fall.

Cecil said that the chips were discovered last fall, before Golden Apples ran fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park and second in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1.

"We'll point for the end of the year more than anything," Cecil said. "That's when the races we want to run in are. It's a huge advantage that the Breeders' Cup is here and we'll get a firm turf course."

Owned by Gary Tanaka, Golden Apples won 3 of 7 starts and $1,111,680 in 2002, including victories in the Santa Ana Handicap, Beverly D. Stakes, and Yellow Ribbon Stakes.

Oak Tree proposal endorsed by Cecil, Lukas

A proposal by Oak Tree Racing Association to move forward the opening day of its fall meeting from Oct. 1 to Sept. 27, which would enable the track to run Breeders' Cup prep races four weeks in advance of the Oct. 25 championship day, was met with support by Cecil and fellow trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The proposal includes moving Breeders' Cup preps such as the Yellow Ribbon, Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares on dirt to the weekend of Sept. 27-28.

Oak Tree is scheduled to open on Oct. 1.

"I think four weeks is better, especially with a filly," Cecil said. "I think that's the way it should be every year. So many years you see people go to New York to have a race four weeks out."

Lukas typically ships his top Breeders' Cup horses to New York and Kentucky in early fall, but said he could have more runners in California if the Breeders' Cup preps are restructured.

"I think it's a good idea," Lukas said. "Of all the years, this would be the year to try it."

Oak Tree, which leases Santa Anita for an autumn meeting, is expected to approach the California Horse Racing Board at its January meeting to request the additional two days of racing. Oak Tree officials recently discussed the move with officials from the Los Angeles County Fair, which operates a fair meeting at Fairplex Park in Pomona during September. If an overlap occurs, Oak Tree officials have stated they would pay compensation to the Los Angeles County Fair for any loss in business due to the additional competition.

"We have the TV time on Saturday and Sunday and we think this is for the good of the California industry," said Sherwood Chillingworth, the executive vice president of Oak Tree.

Atlantic Ocean and Sea Jewel get green light

Atlantic Ocean and Sea Jewel were confirmed for Sunday's $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies following workouts on Wednesday morning.

Atlantic Ocean, the winner of the Miesque Stakes on turf in her most recent start on Nov. 29, worked a half-mile in 46.60 seconds. Trainer Bob Baffert was considering running her in the Sunshine Millions Oaks over seven furlongs on Jan. 25, but says that the Santa Ysabel distance of 1 1/16 miles is a better fit for Atlantic Ocean.

"The seven-eighths isn't her best distance," he said.

Sea Jewel missed the Hollywood Starlet last month due to a bruised foot but satisfied trainer John Shirreffs with a half-mile workout in 49.40 seconds.

"I got the last eighth in [11.20]," Shirreffs said. "She finished strongly, so that makes me optimistic."

The pair will be in a field expected to include Summer Wind Dancer, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies in November.

The Santa Ysabel is one of four stakes on Saturday and Sunday.

The most lucrative of those races is Saturday's $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles.

The probables list is led by Congaree, the winner of the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, who will be the 121-pound topweight. He will face Cottage, Fleetstreet Dancer, Hot Market, Kudos, Mercenary, Nose the Trade, Oh Take, and Piensa Sonando.

Ladies Din resumes training for new barn

Ladies Din, the winner of the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile in his most recent start last May, has joined trainer Frank Monteleone's stable. The 8-year-old Ladies Din jogged on the main track at Santa Anita, his first day of racetrack training since being turned out by previous trainer Julio Canani last summer because of an ankle problem.

Owned by Bernie Schiappa and Terry Lanni, Ladies Din is being pointed for a defense of his Shoemaker Mile win in June, the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar, and the Breeders' Cup Mile at Oak Tree.

In 2000, Ladies Din finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs.

P. Val draws three-day suspension

Patrick Valenzuela, who through Tuesday led all riders at the Santa Anita meeting with six winners, will miss three days of racing next week for causing interference in the seventh race last Sunday.

Valenzuela rode California Goal, who was disqualified from second to third for "altering course without sufficient clearance" in the stretch, the stewards ruled. The suspension runs from Wednesday through Friday.