11/29/2005 12:00AM

Horsemen still abuzz over DQ

Genre, who was moved from third to first in Sunday's Real Quiet, is unlikely to run in the Hollywood Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The decision by the Hollywood Park stewards to disqualify Bob and John from first to third in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park last Saturday left the trainer of the promoted winner shocked at the decision and Bob and John's jockey and trainer - Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert - furious.

The consolation for Espinoza, Baffert, and owners Robert and Janice McNair was the proof that Bob and John belongs on any short list of Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

Bob and John finished first in the Real Quiet Stakes by six lengths under a hand ride, but was demoted to third after the stewards ruled that he interfered with third-place finisher Kissin Knight when allowed to drift to the inside in early stretch.

The decision set off arguments throughout the racing community about the validity of the disqualification, specifically whether Bob and John had fouled Kissin Knight, and whether Kissin Knight, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, had drifted toward the outside as Bob and John moved to the inside.

Even trainer Ben Cecil, whose colt Genre was promoted from second to first, said he was surprised by the decision.

"I thought it was a bad call," Cecil said. "To me it looked like P. Val's horse came out. But I'm not complaining."

After a five-minute inquiry, stewards Darrel McHargue, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward ruled that the interference cost Kissin Knight a placing, and they disqualified Bob and John.

"[Bob and John] came across the path of [Kissin Knight], forcing that horse to check off heels and alter course," McHargue said when explaining the decision on the public address system.

The decision was met with a chorus of boos by the crowd.

After the race, Espinoza saved his strongest words for the stewards.

"You have to wonder if the stewards here can see what is going on," he said. "This was just unbelievable. I really think they need new stewards here, especially after a ruling like that.

"That's how I feel, and I don't care what they think," he said. "This was just not right - not for the horse, not for the public."

Sunday, the stewards gave Espinoza a three-day suspension for the disqualification, covering this Sunday and Dec. 8 and 9.

Baffert was furious after the race and was still disgusted on Sunday. By then, however, he was focusing on Bob and John's performance and future. Bob and John will be pointed for the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 17.

"It was a good prep," Baffert said. "I had trouble sleeping the night before. I was worried he'd just win by a head or a neck. I know he's getting better and better. I was just hoping he'd put on a show."

There was definitely a show in the Real Quiet, but not the one Baffert had envisioned.

Genre unlikely for Hollywood Futurity

Genre, the promoted winner, is doubtful for the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 17, Cecil said.

"He's had a long hard go of it. It's only three weeks back," he said. "This race was a lot to ask."

Owned by David and Paula Mueller, Genre was making his U.S. debut in the Real Quiet. Bought for approximately $245,000 at a sale in England in October, Genre has won 3 of 9 starts and $94,461. He finished third in the Zetland Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf in his first start for the Muellers in late October at Newmarket, England.

Genre was sent to Cecil with the intent of running in the Generous Stakes on turf during the Hollywood Park fall meeting. When turf racing was canceled, Cecil decided to try Genre on dirt.

"He seemed to handle the dirt fine, but I think he's a better horse on the turf," Cecil said.

Genre may try dirt again in the spring, but Cecil said his long-term goals are on turf.

Big drop in meet figures

Through Saturday, the 13th day of the 27-day fall meeting, business has slumped significantly when compared to last year's fall meeting.

The average ontrack attendance was 5,509, a drop of 15.5 percent. The average ontrack handle was $1,282,295, a drop of 9.4 percent, and the average all-sources handle was $7,972,033, a drop of 11.1 percent.

Very little has gone right since the meeting opened with wet weather and a small crowd on Nov. 9.

Before the meeting, the track announced that there would be no turf racing after the course failed to take root when it was resodded during the summer.

Turf racing was supposed to be the backbone of the meeting, with the six-race Autumn Turf Festival scheduled for last weekend. In past years, those programs have provided major incentives for bettors throughout the nation to focus on Hollywood Park races. Instead, the track ran two $100,000 races for 2-year-olds over the weekend.

On a lesser scale, the absence of turf racing has had a negative impact on field sizes, with many turf horses staying on the sidelines and not being tried on dirt.

Short fields on the all-dirt programs have hurt the chances of pick six carryovers, which always draw additional business.

The meeting continues until Dec. 19 with two four-day weeks of racing, Thursday through Sunday, over the next two weeks, and a closing week of five days, Dec. 14-19.

Singhalese close to returning

Singhalese, the winner of the Del Mar Oaks in August, will return to training in a month after undergoing surgery in late October to have a bone chip removed from an ankle, trainer Jim Cassidy said.

Singhalese finished last in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October in her most recent start. Cassidy is hoping she can return to training in January and be ready to race toward the end of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

The surgery "was pretty routine. They think she can return and be 100 percent," Cassidy said.

Without turf racing at the current Hollywood Park meeting, Cassidy is sending four major horses in his stable to Calder for upcoming turf stakes.

Ticker Tape, who is winless in six starts this year but won a Grade 1 in 2004, is bound for Saturday's $100,000 My Charmer Handicap. Noble Masterpiece, who was second in the Tanforan Handicap at Golden Gate Fields in October, is being pointed for the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap on the same day.

On Dec. 10, the 2-year-old filly Golden Silk will start in the $100,000 Cherokee Frolic Stakes. On Dec. 17, Cassidy is sending Moscow Burning to the $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap. The 2004 California-bred Horse of the Year, Moscow Burning won her most recent start, the California Cup Distance Handicap on Nov. 6.

Pedroza on top with 19 wins

Genre was ridden by leading jockey Martin Pedroza, who won five races on Saturday's program. Through Sunday, Pedroza had won 19 races, nine more than a resurgent Tyler Baze.

Pedroza is seeking his first major riding title. He is the all-time leading rider at the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park.