11/07/2003 12:00AM

Injury likely ends Sky Jack's career


ARCADIA, Calif. - Sky Jack, the winner of the 2000 California Cup Classic and 2002 Hollywood Gold Cup, will likely be retired after filling was detected in his right knee on Friday morning, a day before he was scheduled to start in the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Trainer Doug O'Neill spoke to owners Rene and Margie Lambert on Friday and said it was unlikely that the 7-year-old Sky Jack, a gelding, will return to racing.

"He just has filling in the right knee, the problem knee," O'Neill said. "He's walking sound and jogging sound, but I don't want to take a chance. It has the sign of something that might be a problem.

"He's been too good to all of us to take a chance on the racetrack."

Bred by the Lamberts, Sky Jack has endured three knee surgeries and two bouts with colic in his career, which includes 10 wins in 18 starts for earnings of $1,115,127. Sky Jack won five stakes, the most recent being the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 24.

"I'm assuming he will have ended his career in the Longacres Mile," O'Neill said. "He's got a pasture in Temecula with his name on it."

Despite the injuries, Sky Jack was able to return to form following layoffs. After he won the 2000 Cal Cup Classic and Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park, he was off for 16 months. In 2002, he was last of 14 in the Santa Anita Handicap, but won the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup that summer.

After an 11th-place finish in the 2002 Pacific Classic, Sky Jack was found to have suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action until earlier this year.

Sky Jack made three starts in 2003, winning an allowance race at Hollywood Park in his second start of the season.

Since the Longacres Mile, Sky Jack has had only two recorded workouts. He was the morning-line favorite in Saturday's $250,000 Classic, a race reduced to nine after his withdrawal.

O'Neill said X-rays will be conducted "more out of curiosity. I'm assuming it's the same type of thing. He could probably be cleaned up and come back in six or eight months, but he's been through too much.

"He's probably got another bone that has chipped off," the trainer said. "He may not have a chip there, but he's got the filling in that area. That's usually the telltale sign that something has happened."

Stevens to take 'extended vacation'

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens on Friday said he plans to take an "extended vacation" from riding with no definite date set for a return.

Stevens last rode on the Breeders' Cup program at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Stevens returned earlier this week from a 10-day tour to promote the movie "Seabiscuit" in Europe.

Stevens played jockey George Woolf in the movie and said on Friday that he will do more film work in late February or early March, but he did not provide specifics on the project.

When filming for the hit movie was completed in February, Stevens said he wanted to do more acting when opportunities arose.

Last winter, Stevens was off from late October to mid-February for movie obligations, returning in time to ride the second half of the Santa Anita meeting.

On Friday he said he has not made plans for a return to riding and said he has lingering pain in his lower neck from a spill in the Arlington Million in mid-August.

Stevens was unseated from Storming Home a few strides after the wire and suffered a collapsed lung that kept him away from riding for nearly three weeks.

"I'm having a problem with my neck still," he said.

Workers flock to track ahead of rain

With rain possible during the weekend, there were 144 recorded workouts at Santa Anita on Friday, including four by horses who ran on Breeders' Cup Day.

Consecrate, the fifth-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, worked five furlongs in 58 seconds and is being pointed for the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs on Dec. 5, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Consecrate finished 8 3/4 lengths behind Action This Day in the Juvenile.

The Delta Jackpot is run over 1 1/16 miles. Perfect Moon and Capitano, the first two finishers in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar in August, also are being considered for the race.

Congaree, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds. The winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup this year, Congaree is expected to attempt to defend his title in the $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.

The Tin Man, fourth in the Turf, worked five furlongs in 1:02.80. He may start in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22, trainer Richard Mandella said.

"Next week, I'll give him a stiff work, and we may run there if he's doing well," he said.

The Turf Cup is expected to include Runaway Dancer, the upset winner of the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap on Oct. 24. Runaway Dancer breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 on Friday.

Race for Glory, ninth in the Juvenile, worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds.

Pedroza to serve three-day suspension

Jockey Martin Pedroza has withdrawn an appeal of a three-day suspension he received during the Fairplex Park meeting. Pedroza will serve the suspension during the first three days of the Hollywood Park meeting - Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

In a six-furlong maiden race on Sept. 19, Pedroza rode Happy Yodeler, who was disqualified from first to second for crowding Learman on the final turn.

Hollywood fall meeting starts Tuesday

Sunday is the final day of the Oak Tree meeting. Tuesday marks the start of the six-week Hollywood Park fall meeting, which runs through Dec. 21. The opening-day program includes the $70,000 Bien Bien Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf. Buckland Manor, a winner of two allowance races on turf at Oak Tree, is among the probables.

Because the fall meeting starts on Tuesday in honor of Veterans Day, there is no racing on Wednesday. Racing resumes on Thursday and continues through Sunday for the first week.