03/23/2006 12:00AM

Graded winner Elusive Diva retired

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Benoit & Associates
Elusive Diva, 5, won the Las Cienegas and Ken Maddy handicaps, both Grade 3's, in 2005.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Graded-stakes winner Elusive Diva, who won six races and $484,510 from 17 starts, has been retired. Trainer Mark Glatt said the decision to retire the 5-year-old mare was made now "to take advantage of the upcoming breeding season."

Owned by Allen and Susan Branch and John Konecny, was at her best in turf sprints and won two Grade 3 handicaps on the Santa Anita downhill course in 2005 - the Las Cienegas by four lengths, and the Sen. Ken Maddy by three lengths.

"She was the most accomplished horse I've ever had," Glatt said. "It's sad to see her go, but I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish with her. She's such a big, beautiful filly that I have to believe she'll be a really good broodmare."

A daughter of Elusive Quality, Elusive Diva made her last start Feb. 20 at Santa Anita, where she finished second in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap at one mile. Glatt said her owners are considering sending her to either Giant's Causeway or Ghostzapper, and that Elusive Diva was likely to be sold at auction in November.

Valenzuela misses second day with neck pain

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela took off his mounts Thursday, the second straight day the leading rider has missed because of an irritated nerve in his neck and arm. According to agent Tom Knust, Valenzuela was treated by a chiropractor Wednesday, and was scheduled for another chiropractic visit Thursday.

"He thinks he'll be fine [Friday] if he takes another day," Knust said.

According to the agent, the pain in Valenzuela's neck and arm started Monday and got progressively worse until Valenzuela was treated Wednesday. Valenzuela has had more mounts (349) at the meet than any rider, and holds a 64-56 lead over Garrett Gomez going into the Thursday card.

Illinois Derby possible for Racketeer

Racketeer's sneaky good fourth-place finish March 18 in the Grade 2 San Felipe may have earned him another shot in an out-of-town stakes race, according to trainer Bobby Frankel. Running long for the first time in the San Felipe, Racketeer pressed the fast pace from between horses, dropped back to fifth in the stretch, then re-rallied to fourth, a nose behind Bob and John.

Racketeer earned a career-high 97 Beyer Figure while making his fourth career start.

"He ran great," Frankel said. "I don't know about the [Kentucky] Derby, but I may look for an easy race like the Illinois Derby."

If Racketeer ships to Hawthorne for the Grade 2 Illinois Derby on April 8, he would face northern California-based 3-year-old Cause to Believe.

Yo Joan wins first baby race for Ward

Trainer Wesley Ward and assistant Blake Heap won the first 2-year-old race of the meet on Wednesday, and there are others where the filly Yo Joan ($7.40) came from. Tyler Baze rode Yo Joan to the three-quarter-length win going two furlongs, and Heap said two others are right behind her - Erin's Kristina, a filly by Precise End, is scheduled to run Wednesday; Seattle T R, a gelding by Tiger Ridge, runs Thursday.

"They're all kind of quick," Heap said. "Tyler worked all of them, and liked every one better than the one before."

Plans for Yo Joan, sired by Bartok, are undetermined. She could ship to Kentucky for a stakes, or wait for the spring-summer meet at Hollywood Park. The race won by Yo Joan was for Cal-bred 2-year-old fillies and was timed in 21.66 seconds.

Vienna taking two to Oaklawn

Oaklawn Park will have a South American flavor on April 8, when trainer Darrell Vienna runs Star Parade in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap and Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Magnum in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. Both horses began their careers in Argentina.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Star Parade "has never been better," Vienna said. The 7-year-old mare worked six furlongs on the training track Wednesday in an outstanding 1:12.60 "under a hold," according to Vienna.

Star Parade had a horrendous trip when she finished second in the Apple Blossom last year under John McKee. She scored impressive wins with Martin Pedroza in her last two main-track starts, and Pedroza rides her in the Apple Blossom. Pedroza also has regained the mount on Big Cap runner-up Magnum; Vienna was unhappy with Jon Court's ride on Magnum last out.

"He had one set of instructions - to stay off the rail," Vienna said. Magnum raced on the rail most of the trip, and finished three-quarters of a length behind Lava Man.

O'Neill on a roll, but Sharp Lisa in tough

With nine wins since March 9, trainer Doug O'Neill leads the trainer standings by five wins going into the Friday card.

"It was slow there for a while," O'Neill said. "We finally got some wins, so we're trying to get the momentum going the right way."

It will be tough to do Sunday, when Sharp Lisa makes her first start on turf in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap after three comeback races in which her closest finish was nine lengths back.

"The pedigree is there," O'Neill said regarding the surface switch for Sharp Lisa, a daughter of Dixieland Band and a Dynaformer mare. "She's bred to love it, she's training really well, and we figured we'd give it a shot."

Ticker Tape and Argentina head the prospective Santa Ana field.