08/17/2009 11:00PM

Internallyflawless liable to improve

Benoit & Associates
Internallyflawless (left), good enough to run second in the Miesque last year at Hollywood, should like the 1 1/8 miles of the Del Mar Oaks.

DEL MAR, Calif. - For a horse who has run just five times, Internallyflawless has had a star-crossed career. She defeated maidens so impressively in her turf debut at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting last fall that she was entered in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she failed to get in from the also-eligible list. She then turned in a strong effort finishing second in the Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park, but after a poor try as the odds-on favorite in the Blue Norther at Santa Anita in December, she went into a funk.

"She just wasn't right," her trainer, Bob Baffert, said Tuesday morning at Del Mar. "No surgery, no nothing. She just wasn't showing it to me."

It took until Aug. 1 for Internallyflawless to get back to the races, and she responded by running well in the San Clemente Handicap, closing from ninth to fourth in the final half-mile of the one-mile grass race. On Saturday at Del Mar, Internallyflawless will try to knock off some of the fillies who beat her in the San Clemente, and likely favorite Well Monied, in the Grade 1, $350,000 Del Mar Oaks.

"She needed her last race. I was happy with it," Baffert said.

Will she move forward off it?

"She better move forward," he said, laughing.

Indeed, Internallyflawless will have to run the best race of her career to win. Her cause is helped by the extra distance of the Oaks, at 1 1/8 miles, and a glittering pedigree (Giant's Causeway out of a Seeking the Gold mare) that suggests the best is yet to come. But Internallyflawless is meeting a deep field, most notably Well Monied, whose productive Hollywood Park campaign included a win in the Honeymoon Handicap and a second-place finish to Eastern invader Gozzip Girl in the American Oaks.

Others pointing for Oaks include Dreamalong, Hameildaeme, Lexlenos, Nan, and Starlarks and Strawberry Tart, who ran one-two in the San Clemente.

Lethal Heat topweight in Solana Beach

Lethal Heat, who finished a close third behind Zenyatta in the Clement Hirsch Stakes on Aug. 9, has been assigned top weight of 122 pounds for the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap, the feature race on Sunday.

The Solana Beach is at one mile on turf for California-bred fillies and mares. Barry Abrams, the trainer of Lethal Heat, has several others nominated to the race, including Hot N Dusty, who is next on the weights at 121 pounds.

Massone may head to Del Mar Derby

A powerful allowance victory on the turf on Sunday by Massone may have earned the 3-year-old colt a start in the Grade 2, $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6, according to his trainer, Ron McAnally.

"He ran big," McAnally said. "I wasn't sure if he was better on turf or the main track. I was looking at the El Cajon, but now I might have to run him in the derby."

The derby is at 1 1/8 miles on turf, the same conditions as the allowance race. The $100,000 El Cajon is on the main Polytrack surface at one mile on Sept. 5.

Massone has run well on both turf and synthetic surfaces. He was third in the Cinema Handicap on turf at Hollywood Park. He also was third in the Blue Grass Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland, and second in the El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields.

Bejarano targets return next weekend

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who sustained multiple facial fractures in an accident here on opening day July 22, is scheduled to return to action on Aug. 28, according to his agent, Joe Ferrer.

Bejarano will be wearing a protective mask, similar to the one worn by Rip Hamilton of the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons.

Big turnaround for Public Image

Just a few months ago, it seemed as though Public Image would be banished from the racetrack. He refused to break from the starting gate in a race last September at Fairplex Park and then, after returning in May at Hollywood Park, he did the same thing.

"The stewards called us in," said trainer Doug O'Neill. "They were getting bombarded with calls from gamblers. They were close to ruling him off."

Since then, though, Public Image, a 4-year-old gelding, has finished second, and won twice, including against $20,000 claimers on Friday.

"I have to give tons of credit to Gary Brinson and his crew," O'Neill said, referring to the starter at Hollywood Park and Del Mar. "They were very persistent trying to figure him out. Gary told the stewards he wasn't mean, and wasn't dangerous. They gave him a chance. He's still tricky. Basically, he needs to be up in the 'V' of the starting gate, and his hind end can't be touching the back door, or he'll hesitate."

That's advice O'Neill said he passed along to trainer Bill Morey, who claimed Public Image away from O'Neill on Friday.

Marcello will stretch out

Marcello, a winner against maidens on Saturday, will make his next start going long, and possibly on turf, according to Baffert, his trainer.

"He's a very one-paced kind of horse," Baffert said. "He needs to stretch out, and he may like grass. He's bred for it."

Marcello is by Johannesburg, and is out of a mare by Affirmed.

Apprentice Reyes plans to ride Fairplex

Apprentice jockey Christian Santiago Reyes will ride the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park from Sept. 10-28, according to his agent, Tony Matos.

Through Saturday, Reyes, 19, had won 12 races at Del Mar. Last Thursday, Reyes rode Cape of Bradford to a win in a turf sprint, but the horse was disqualified and placed second for causing interference in the stretch.

Reyes did not face sanctions from track stewards, who assigned the blame for the erratic stretch run to Cape of Bradford.

Reyes is appealing a five-day suspension from earlier this meeting for causing interference. He received a temporary restraining order last week allowing him to continue riding until a hearing is conducted.

Trail Mix turning into turf horse

Don Chatlos, currently working as an assistant to trainer Librado Barocio, is hoping the popular 8-year-old gelding Trail Mix scratches in from the also-eligible list in Thursday's seventh race, an optional claimer at five furlongs on turf.

Trained by Barocio, Trail Mix won a similar race on July 30. It was his first win in 13 starts on the surface, but he has finished in the money in 11 grass races. Overall, Trail Mix has won 11 of 41 starts, and finished in the money 29 times.

"He never has a bad day," Chatlos said. "That horse has more energy than me. He shows up every single day. It was great that he got that first win on grass last time. He finally broke through.

"He will get a good home when he's done. The first sign of anything going wrong, we will stop on him and he will get a good home."

Chatlos is best known for winning the Breeders' Cup Mile with Singletary. He said he will have six horses in his care at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, three of whom are 2-year-olds sired by Singletary.

* George Ortuzar, a longtime fixture in Hollywood Park's marketing department, has taken over as the agent for jockey Danny Sorenson.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen