11/26/2002 12:00AM

Howling winds, debris spook horses


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Auntie Em, Toto, it's a twister.

Wicked Santa Ana winds came howling out of the north Monday night and into Tuesday morning, knocking down power lines and trees, and sparking small brush fires, throughout Southern California. Although there was no significant damage at either Santa Anita or Hollywood Park, the horses were spooked by the wind and resulting debris, and producers of the movie "Seabiscuit" had to make adjustments at Santa Anita.

Scores of mannequins are in a section of the Santa Anita grandstand to approximate a large crowd during filming of the movie, which is currently taking place. "They had to strap the dummies down to film today," said Rick Hammerle, the assistant racing secretary at Santa Anita.

Hammerle said his track had no damage from the wind, but said he saw two small fires break out Tuesday morning in the hills above Santa Anita.

"And the dust," Hammerle said, "is incredible."

At Hollywood Park, the wind was not as severe, and had largely dissipated by the late-morning renovation break at 8:30. "It was really windy when I got here at 5:15," said Humberto Ascanio, the lead assistant to trainer Bobby Frankel. "Stuff was flying around. It makes the horses pretty frisky."

Turf Festival runners arrive

A number of horses scheduled to run in this weekend's Turf Festival arrived at Hollywood Park on Tuesday following flights from New York and Europe.

Included in the group were New York-based Capsized, who is scheduled to run in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Citation Handicap, and the European fillies Choc Ice and Dress to Thrill, who are scheduled to run in Sunday's Grade 1, $500,000 Matriarch Stakes.

Others who shipped in include Kimberlite Pipe for the Citation; Mighty Beau and Texas Glitter for Friday's Grade 3, $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express; the 2-year-old filly Ocean Drive for Friday's Grade 3, $200,000 Miesque Stakes; and the 2-year-olds Limitation and Lismonte Knight for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Generous Stakes.

The Turf Festival includes six graded stakes, two per day, Friday through Sunday, for total purses of $2.1 million. The two Grade 1 races - the Matriarch and the $500,000 Hollywood Derby - are both Sunday.

Two Hollywood Derby entrants work

Mananan McLir and Royal Gem, both scheduled to run in the Hollywood Derby, worked five furlongs on dirt Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park.

The Wally Dollase-trained Mananan McLir was timed in 1:01.60. Royal Gem worked in 1:03.20 under the supervision of Ascanio. Frankel was flying Tuesday to New York, where he will run Aldebaran, Empire Maker, and Sightseek in important stakes this weekend at Aqueduct.

The derby is expected to have a large field. Two trainers with derby runners, Beau Greely and Eduardo Inda, have high hopes for their respective runners, Century City and Music's Storm.

Century City was an unlucky loser of the Bay Meadows Derby in his first start in this country. He walked out of the gate, but finished furiously and just missed.

"He's been out of the gate twice since then," Greely said Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park. "They've done a great job here. He's been breaking really well. I think he's a really nice horse. His last race was pretty impressive. If he was going to get beat, the place to learn was up north, rather than the Hollywood Derby."

Music's Storm is "doing super," Inda said.

"He's training out of sight. This son of a gun is doing so good, he reminds me of my old horse John Henry," added Inda, who was a longtime assistant to John Henry's trainer, Ron McAnally, before going out on his own.

Turf Cup champ Sligo Bay to try dirt

Sligo Bay, the upset winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup, will be given a chance to transfer that form to the dirt this winter at Santa Anita. He will be aimed for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

"He's never run on dirt, but he's worked well on it," said Greely, his trainer. "For American breeding, it would be nice if he could get a Grade 1 on dirt."

Sligo Bay, who will be 5 next year, is a son of Sadler's Wells, but has a female family that includes such noteworthy North American runners as Devil's Bag, Glorious Song, and Rahy.

"The Santa Anita Handicap is in March, so if he doesn't like the dirt, we've still got the rest of the year to run him on turf," Greely said. "And if he likes the dirt, it opens up a whole new option."

* Trainer Doug O'Neill said sprint stakes winner Avanzado will be given a little time off following his poor performance in Laurel's De Francis Memorial Dash. O'Neill said Avanzado has no physical problems, but was just in need of a vacation.

* Trainer Don Burke said that Falcon Flight, who is heading to the Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 15, will be ridden there by French jockey Gerard Mosse.