09/28/2005 11:00PM

Greg's Gold out for year with bone chip


ARCADIA, Calif. - Greg's Gold, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July, has been taken out of training because of a knee injury and will miss the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, trainer David Hofmans said.

Greg's Gold, 4, will undergo surgery this weekend to have a bone chip removed from his left knee. The injury is expected to keep Greg's Gold out of training for four to six months, but the prognosis is "excellent," Hofmans said.

"He's been battling this since his last race," Hofmans said.

Owned by Bill Boswell, Greg's Gold has won 4 of 13 starts and $350,928. A California-bred, he won his first stakes in the Bing Crosby, joining the list of leading candidates for the BC Sprint.

The absence of Greg's Gold leaves a void in the California sprint division, a group that could be clarified in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap on Oct. 8.

Elusive Diva rebounds

Elusive Diva returned to her favorite course and distance on opening day Wednesday in the $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap, scoring a convincing three-length win on the Santa Anita hillside turf course.

The victory was a relief to trainer Mark Glatt, who feared that Elusive Diva's summertime bout with an eye and respiratory infection would affect her ability to race at the highest level.

"I'm probably a worrier," he said.

Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Elusive Diva won the Maddy by three lengths, finishing the about 6 1/2-furlong distance on turf in a quick 1:11.56. Chasethegold, a 20-1 outsider, rallied from sixth to finish second, a length in front of 17-1 Abounding Truth in the field of 11 fillies and mares.

Elusive Diva, 4, is unbeaten in three starts on the hillside course, a span that includes the minor Wishing Well Handicap in January and the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap in April.

Elusive Diva made only one start between the Las Cienegas and the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy, finishing sixth in the Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar in August. She was found to have the respiratory ailment following that race.

"Sometimes mares, when they've been through different ordeals, they train good and feel good, but they don't have the desire they once had," Glatt said. "You wonder if they can come back as well as they were, but she showed she's at her best."

Owned by John and Doris Konecny and Al and Susan Branch, Elusive Diva has won 6 of 14 starts and $414,730.

Turf sprint winners square off

Shadow of Illinois and Siren Lure, the winner of turf sprints earlier this year, are top contenders in Saturday's restricted $65,000 Blue Jay Way Stakes on the hillside turf course.

The Blue Jay Way Stakes is restricted to non-winners of a first-place purse of $50,000 since May 15 and is the first of four stakes on Saturday's 10-race program.

Shadow of Illinois is winless in two starts since the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap here on April 18, the closing day of the winter-spring meeting. Trained by Anthony Saavedra, Shadow of Illinois finished fifth behind Siren Lure in the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 10.

Siren Lure made two starts at Del Mar following the Kerlan, finishing third in the Green Flash Handicap and fourth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The Blue Jay Way Stakes drew a field of 10, including Puppeteer, who has not started since finishing second in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes in January; Smoocher, who was claimed for a Del Mar record of $125,000 in July; and Crystal Castle, who was second in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 2004.

Business down opening day

Business slumped substantially compared with 2004 on Wednesday's opening day of the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.

The crowd of 9,489 was the lowest at the track for an opening day since 2000 and was 12 percent lower than last year. Wednesday's on-track handle of $2,128,903 was down 10 percent while the all-sources handle of $6,960,837 was off 18 percent compared with last year. The all-sources handle was the lowest since 1991 for an opening day.

"It was a hot day, but we've had hot days before," said Sherwood Chillingworth, the executive vice-president of the Oak Tree Racing Association. "It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend. It's supposed to be cooler."

* Jockey Garrett Gomez rode three winners on Wednesday to take an early lead in the jockey standings.