04/24/2005 11:00PM

For Gregson nominees, alarm then relief


SAN MATEO, Calif. - The trainers of eight of the nine horses nominated must have gasped when they saw the list of eligibles for Saturday's $58,000-added Gregson Foundation Sprint for 3-year-olds at Bay Meadows.

With just those eight, the six-furlong race would be a pretty competitive affair. There was, however, a ninth nomination - Lost in the Fog, the undefeated sprint sensation.

But Lost in the Fog will not be running in the race. Trainer Greg Gilchrist confirmed that Lost in the Fog's goal is still the $150,000 Golden Bear Breeders' Cup Stakes on May 14 at Golden Gate Fields, so the eight trainers can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Multiple stakes winners Cajun Pepper and Wind Water top the list of nominees who actually might run.

Abuse of Power and Elegant Ice, both of whom were entered in a 7 1/2-furlong turf race Thursday, also are nominated. Abuse of Power will likely scratch Thursday to run in the Gregson Foundation, said his trainer, Daniel Franko.

Stellar Magic given a break

Stellar Magic, who has developed into one of northern California's best 3-year-olds, will be getting some time off, trainer Brian Pitnick said.

Pitnick, who owns a share of Stellar Magic, said his colt was in need of a break after being in training for nearly one full year.

Stellar Magic has won 2 of his 3 starts this year, including a 1 1/2-length victory over Texcess in the San Mateo Mile on Feb. 12. He disappointed last out, however, finishing 10th, beaten 21 lengths, in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on March 12.

Pitnick received good news on the breeding front when his mare Graceful Stepper dropped her first foal, a filly by Beau Genius.

"She's very precocious and very correct," said Pitnick, who said he won't breed Graceful Stepper this year and will send her to Kentucky next year.

Graceful Stepper was 2 for 7 in her racing career, earning $23,185. She suffered a career-ending injury when she defeated Single Charm by a head in a $40,000 starter allowance race Feb. 16, 2004.

Castledale win tops thrilling card

Saturday's card had some of the best racing northern California has seen in some time.

Castledale won the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile by a half-length. Castledale, who as a 2-year-old in 2003 won the Grade 3 Generous on the turf in his U.S. debut, scored an upset in the 2004 Santa Anita Derby and went on to finish 14th in the Kentucky Derby.

Castledale looked good Saturday, outgaming a Adreamisborn despite being blocked behind horses in the stretch.

Owner Frank Lyons said Castledale seemed to come out of the race fine and gave no indication of having been in a tough race when he got back to the barn.

Adreamisborn, who started 2004 as a 5-year-old maiden, turned in yet another strong effort, and locally based Aly Bubba also ran well to be third.

Two other good races on Saturday were decided in photos.

Roberto Gonzalez, northern California's top speed rider, nursed Peruvian Grade 1 winner Zorro Rojo through honest fractions in a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. Zorro Rojo opened in the lane, and had just enough to hold off Lindero by a nose.

In a one-mile allowance, Smoocher sat off the pace set by stablemate Symphony Sid and closed late to score a head victory over Easy Million.

Handle for the nine-race card topped $5.6 million, with telephone wagers yet to be added in.

Real Paranoide must catch Irish Femme

Six fillies and mares, including the entry of Jacobs Smile and Real Paranoide, meet in the Wednesday feature, a $40,000 claimer at one mile.

The top two horses in the race appear to be Real Paranoide and Irish Femme, who was just claimed for $25,000 on March 30, when she won sprinting off a five-month layoff.

Likely the main speed Wednesday, Irish Femme put back-to-back allowance wins together while routing last fall before faltering to sixth in the Golden Poppy Handicap in October.

Real Paranoide had a three-race win streak snapped last out March 27, when she returned from a three-month layoff and lost by a nose in a one-mile claiming race.

Also on Wednesday's card, stakes-winning Surprise Halo returns from a 7 1/2-month layoff in a $32,000 claimer at one mile on the turf. He went 0-for-6 last year, including a second-place finish to Adreamisborn in the Alamedan Handicap at Pleasanton, a race he won in 2003.