08/27/2004 11:00PM

Japan may be 'Perfect' spot


DEL MAR, Calif. - In an effort to surpass Cigar on the all-time earnings list, Pleasantly Perfect could be sent to Japan for the $2 million Japan Cup Dirt at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 28, trainer Richard Mandella said on Saturday.

The Japan Cup Dirt, run over about 1 5/16 miles, could be the final start of Pleasantly Perfect's career. The winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in his most recent start on Aug. 22, Pleasantly Perfect is scheduled to make his next start in the

$4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. He won the 2003 BC Classic at Santa Anita.

Mandella said owner Gerald Ford of Dallas has held discussions with Kentucky farms about standing Pleasantly Perfect at stud in 2005, but that nothing has been finalized.

"There are discussions with breeding farms going on," Mandella said. "Pleasantly Perfect is most likely to go to stud. There is a small chance he could run next year."

Pleasantly Perfect, 6, has won 9 of 17 starts and $7,349,880. Cigar, the Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996, leads the all-time list of North American horses with $9,999,815.

A win in the Breeders' Cup Classic and Japan Cup Dirt this fall would put Pleasantly Perfect past Cigar.

Pleasantly Perfect would earn a $1 million bonus with a win in the Japan Cup Dirt. Last year that race was won by the California-based ex-claimer Fleetstreet Dancer. The bonus is available to horses who win a select number of major races in a season and the Japan Cup Dirt. Earlier this year, Pleasantly Perfect won the

$6 million Dubai World Cup, a win that makes him eligible for the bonus.

"The bonus makes it worthwhile," Mandella said.

Pleasantly Perfect has returned to the racetrack following his Pacific Classic win. He jogged a mile on Saturday.

Nakatani takes licking, keeps ticking

Bruised and obviously battered, jockey Corey Nakatani won three races at Del Mar on Friday after being involved in an altercation earlier in the day with jockey Isaias Enriquez.

Nakatani appeared to sustain a black eye and a cut on his left cheekbone in the incident, which occurred after the first race. Enriquez was seen in the barn area on Saturday with what appeared to be a bruised cheekbone.

After the incident, Nakatani did not ride the second or third races while receiving attention in first aid. He returned to win with three of his next four mounts.

Nakatani won the fourth race with Cozy Guy ($10), the fifth with General Expression ($4.20), and the featured seventh on Royal Price ($6).

After appearing in a television interview following Royal Price's win, Nakatani declined to discuss the incident that occurred with Enriquez. "It should stay in the jockeys' room," he said.

It did not stay in the jockeys' room for long. Nakatani and Enriquez appeared at a hearing before track stewards on Saturday. They are expected to be fined.

For Nakatani, the hearing was his second dealing with track stewards this week. Thursday, he appeared before an administrative law judge in an appeal of a 30-day suspension issued in March at Santa Anita for causing interference that resulted in a spill.

Del Mar stewards Ingrid Fermin and Tom Ward were part of the three stewards who issued the March suspension and argued the case on Thursday on behalf of the California Horse Racing Board. Administrative law judge James Ahler is expected to issue an opinion on the case to the racing board in coming weeks.

Friday's hat trick gave Nakatani 40 wins on the meeting, six behind leader Tyler Baze.

Royal Price, second in the German 2000 Guineas in 2003, outfinished A to the Z to win the optional claimer by a head, finishing a mile on turf in 1:33.70. Owned by Michael Bello and trained by Bobby Frankel, Royal Price has won three of his last five starts, all in allowance races.

Martinez out for meet

Jockey Felipe Martinez will not ride the remainder of the Del Mar meeting because of lingering discomfort from a groin injury suffered in late July. Martinez has won six races from 68 mounts at this meeting.

According to his agent, Alex Procel, Martinez will see a doctor on Monday. He is expected to resume riding on Sept. 10, the opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair meeting in Pomona.

Stute resting up

Trainer Warren Stute was resting at his Arcadia, Calif., home on Saturday, a day after having what he described as a "mini-stroke."

Stute, who will be 83 next month, was hospitalized briefly on Friday morning after appearing to be in distress while in the backstretch kitchen.

Stute was treated and released from Scripps Hospital in Encinitas on Friday and was driven to the Los Angeles area later in the day. Stute said on Saturday that he is suffering from slurred speech and will visit his doctor on Monday.

"My doctor told me he'd see me on Monday," Stute said. "My speech is a little off but otherwise I'm pretty good."

Stute said he plans to return to Del Mar on Wednesday.

Track fined by stewards

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has been fined $3,000 by the stewards for an incident on Aug. 19 when three members of the track's turf-course staff nearly caused an accident when they began repairing divots on the course in the middle of a race.

The three employees were forced to scramble under a rail to avoid an oncoming field of seven horses in the day's seventh race.

The fine was levied for unsafe racing conditions and because track employees were not licensed.

The three turf-course employees - Ruben Carmona, Israel Tovar, and Jim Vigil - were not licensed at the time of the incident.

Vigil told the stewards on Aug. 20 that the three men thought the race was a sprint and not 1 3/8 miles and therefore they did not think the field of horses would race around the far turn twice.