08/24/2004 11:00PM

Inspiring may miss Debutante

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Pico Central, winning the Metropolitan Handicap on May 31, is being pointed to the Vosburgh Stakes on Oct. 2.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Inspiring, the top 2-year-old filly in California, has sore shins and may not start in Saturday's $250,000 Del Mar Debutante, trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday.

Baffert said that Inspiring was bothered by sore shins in her first two starts - a win in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on July 5 and a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 7.

"It's not that bad, but I'm debating whether to run," Baffert said. "I don't know that she'll run. It's hard to get a really good one, and when you do you want to take care of them."

Baffert said Inspiring will need a break this fall and might not run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, Inspiring has earned $115,800.

Baffert has two other candidates for the Grade 1 Debutante, run over seven furlongs. He may start Excessively Nice, an impressive maiden winner over 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 8, or No Bull Baby, who beat maidens by 2 1/2 lengths over 5 1/2 furlongs Aug. 15. Both fillies have made one start.

Excessively Nice could defect to the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for California-bred fillies Sept. 1. "I'll run at least one," Baffert said of the Debutante.

The defection of Inspiring would make Souvenir Gift the favorite in the Debutante. Souvenir Gift won two stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this year and was second in the Sorrento.

Other probable starters for the Debutante include Hello Lucky, Girly Girl, Ninadivina, Proposed, and She's Salty.

The field will not include Sterling Cat, the winner of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes for 2-year-old statebreds July 23. She has been sidelined with sore shins, trainer Jeff Bonde said.

Hello Lucky was third in the Sorrento, her third start and first for Charles Cono and trainer Christopher Paasch. Hello Lucky must be supplemented to the Debutante for $10,000. Tuesday, Hello Lucky worked a half-mile in 45.60 seconds, much faster than Paasch would have preferred.

"It was an unbelievable work for as easy as she did it," Paasch said. "Hopefully, she didn't leave her race on the training track."

Hello Lucky, bought privately in July, won her first two starts at Calder - a maiden race over five furlongs and an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs - while trained by Ernesto Sarmiento. She arrived at Del Mar in late July.

"She's been improving every week," said Sarmiento.

Pico Central leans toward Vosburgh

Pico Central, the winner of three major stakes earlier this year but a disappointing third in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap on Aug. 15, is likely to reappear in the $500,000 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 2.

Trainer Paulo Lobo said the $250,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 is another possibility.

Lobo said that he is leaning toward the Vosburgh Stakes because of the difference in prize money and the weight-for-age conditions.

In the Pat O'Brien, Pico Central was on the lead for the first half-mile but faded to finish 5 1/2 lengths behind race winner Kela. The Pat O'Brien was Pico Central's first start since winning the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 31.

Pico Central is not nominated for the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 30 and would need to be supplemented to the race for $200,000. Lobo said owner Gary Tanaka would make a decision on the Breeders' Cup after the Vosburgh.

Kravets moves to California

Jockey Justin Kravets, who was fifth in the standings at Penn National through Tuesday, is relocating to Southern California this weekend, according to his new agent, Corey Black.

Kravets, 21, is expected to begin riding at Del Mar next week.

Kravets, who will ride during the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park next month, recently contacted Black and asked the former rider to represent him.

"I got to see some tapes of him and I liked what I saw," Black said.

Black is the agent for Patrick Valenzuela, who is currently appealing a suspension for failing to take a hair follicle test at Hollywood Park in July. Valenzuela was suspended for the rest of the year - the term of his conditional license - and barred from the grounds.

Valenzuela has not ridden since July 1.

Sarafan works for Del Mar Handicap

Sarafan, a top contender for Sunday's $250,000 Del Mar Handicap, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.60 on Wednesday.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Sarafan is likely to be the starting highweight for the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, run over 1 3/8 miles on turf. The Tin Man, the 122-pound topweight, is expected to pass the race and may start in the $75,000 Live the Dream Handicap on Sept. 8, trainer Richard Mandella said.

There are eight probable starters for the Del Mar Handicap, including Continuously, Dimitrova, Gene de Campeao, Mananan McLir, Moscow Burning, Murano, and Star Over the Bay.

Stevens to ride in two stakes

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has lined up mounts in two important Labor Day weekend stakes at Del Mar, according to his agent, Craig O'Bryan.

Stevens, 41, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving France early next week, ending a five-month term as the first-string jockey for top trainer Andre Fabre.

At Del Mar, Stevens has been booked to ride Fun House in the $200,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 4 and Laura's Lucky Boy in the $400,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

Laura's Lucky Boy finished fifth in the La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 14. At Hollywood Park, Laura's Lucky Boy won the Will Rogers Stakes in May and was second in the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap a month later.

House of Fortune points to Spinster

House of Fortune, the 3-year-old filly who finished second in the Clement Hirsch Handicap on Aug. 8, is being pointed for the $500,000 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 10.

Trainer Ron McAnally said he and owner Arnold Zetcher will make a decision after that race on whether to contest the Breeders' Cup Distaff. House of Fortune won the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks in June.

Zetcher, who lives in Boston, was at Del Mar on Wednesday to watch his new French acquisition, Fast and Furious, work seven furlongs on turf in 1:26.40. Fast and Furious is being pointed for the Del Mar Derby.