11/20/2002 1:00AM

Grammarian home for Turf Cup


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Grammarian won the Sunset Handicap at 29-1 at Hollywood Park in July, owner Lindsey Williams dared to dream of lofty goals this fall.

Holding the winner's trophy, Williams announced that Grammarian's autumn goal was the prestigious Melbourne Cup in early November in Australia, where the owner was born.

That never happened. Grammarian was unplaced in the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga and Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs, forcing Williams to plot a more realistic campaign in the United States.

The new strategy has brought Grammarian back to California, where he is scheduled to start in Saturday's $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

"We couldn't take the risk to take him," Williams said of Australia. "It was a huge logistical issue."

Grammarian has not won a stakes since the Sunset Handicap, but did win an allowance race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

In the recent victory, he showed his customary front-running style. The same strategy worked in the Sunset, when Grammarian was always close to the pace, but backfired in the Sword Dancer, when Grammarian set a fast pace before fading to finish eighth.

"We tried to get him to rate, but we haven't been successful," Williams said.

Grammarian will start for trainer Scott Brumley in the Turf Cup. Brumley manages Elk Hill Farm in Lexington, Ky., for Williams. Following Saturday's race, Grammarian will stay at Hollywood Park with trainer Beau Greely.

The Grade 1 Turf Cup will pit Grammarian against Cetewayo, Chiselling, Delta Form, Hannibal Lad, Nazirali, Rochester, Sligo Bay, Special Matter, and Williams News.

Grammarian is likely to be a longshot, but could be a factor with his running style. Williams is ready to take another chance.

"I think he's physically better and has put on weight," he said. "We think it will be a tough proposition."

Frankel going for green

The Turf Cup is the first major turf stakes of the fall meeting, and is followed next week by six graded stakes, including three worth $500,000. The Dec. 1 program features the $500,000 Hollywood Derby and $500,000 Matriarch Stakes, both of which will feature at least two runners trained by Bobby Frankel.

On Wednesday, Frankel said that Banks Hill, who was second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, and Tates Creek, the winner of the Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, will start in the Matriarch.

In the Derby, Frankel, will start Royal Gem, the winner of the Bay Meadows Derby, and Inesperado, the winner of three turf stakes in the summertime.

Frankel said he will not start Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Classic as the 5-2 favorite. Instead, Medaglia d'Oro is being pointed for the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February as a prep for the Dubai World Cup on March 29.

The $500,000 Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles is the feature on the Nov. 30 program.

Gomez riding at Sunland

Jockey Garrett Gomez resumed riding on Tuesday at Sunland Park in New Mexico following a self-imposed monthlong break. He said he plans to be based there until late December.

Gomez last rode in Southern California on Oct. 20 at Santa Anita, and then took time off, stating the need to deal with personal problems and spend more time with his family.

Gomez, 30, began his career in New Mexico and said he went to Sunland Park, near El Paso, to visit friends. He rode two horses on Tuesday and has four mounts on Friday.

"This will help to keep my weight down," he said on Wednesday from New Mexico. "When I came back yesterday, my lungs were burning. I've been working out in the gym, but riding horses is different than riding a bike."

Gomez said he intends to return to California for the final week of the Hollywood Park meeting, which ends on Dec. 22, or the start of the Santa Anita meeting on Dec. 26.

"I needed to get out of L.A.," he said.

Only the Best back in training

Only the Best, the winner of two sprint stakes for 2-year-olds this year, has resumed training after missing exercise in early November because of a tender shin, trainer Brian Lynch said. He is being pointed for the Great States Challenge Juvenile at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 7.

The winner of the Malcolm Anderson Stakes at Bay Meadows in September and the Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita in October for owners Alvin and Neile Toffel, Only the Best was examined last week by veterinarians, who told Lynch that the California-bred gelding was fit to resume training.

"They said to go on with it," Lynch said. "They're pretty conservative, and when they gave him a clean bill of health that was good enough for me. He looks like he's hitting good."

Krone leads Turf Paradise trip

Jockey Julie Krone, tied for ninth in the standings after the first two weeks of the fall meeting, is one of three Southern California-based jockeys who have stakes mounts in the $50,000 Queen of the Green Handicap at Turf Paradise in Phoenix on Saturday.

Krone will ride Reine de Romance in the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Kevin Krigger (Polaire) and Joe Steiner (Double Cat) also have mounts.

A member of racing's Hall of Fame, Krone returned to riding on Nov. 1 following a retirement of 3 1/2 years.

Grandinetti dead

Services were held in Phoenix earlier this week for Joseph Grandinetti, a former jockey's room valet in Southern California, who died of cancer on Nov. 15.

Grandinetti, 52, worked in the jockeys' room at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita for several riders, including Kent Desormeaux, David Flores, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Gary Stevens.

A former trainer in California in the 1970's, Grandinetti is survived by two daughters, Heidi and Holli, and a brother, Eddie, a former jockey.