09/30/2003 12:00AM

Joey Franco on edge for Goodwood


ARCADIA, Calif. - While Pleasantly Perfect and Toccet will use the Grade 2 Goodwood Handicap on Saturday to prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, Joey Franco's motive is purely fiscal. "We're going in the Goodwood to try to get some good money," said trainer Darrell Vienna.

Based on Joey Franco's recent form and outstanding workout Tuesday, a good portion of the purse will be headed in his direction.

The $500,000 Goodwood purse includes $100,000 for Breeders' Cup-eligible nominees. Joey Franco is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, and therefore will race for only $400,000. Joey Franco would require a 9 percent supplement to start in the Breeders' Cup, and Vienna does not expect owner Jerry Frankel to supplement him.

Instead, the focus is on the 1 1/8-mile Goodwood, and new jockey Victor Espinoza got acquainted Tuesday with Joey Franco.

"I don't usually use jockeys to work horses," Vienna said, explaining that " he has so much speed, I want [Espinoza] to see he might be going faster than he thinks."

Sure enough, Espinoza hardly moved on Joey Franco, and the five-furlong workout that looked slow was timed in 1:00.40, breezing. Espinoza replaces Pat Valenzuela, who rides Saturday at Keeneland.

The work sets up Joey Franco to deliver another top effort in the Goodwood. The California-bred has won four of his last five starts, including a Grade 1 sprint and a Grade 2 route, and goes into the Goodwood as the 117-pound highweight against a good field. Pleasantly Perfect (116) is racing for the first time since the Santa Anita Handicap in March, and while trainer Richard Mandella expects a good effort first start back the 5-year-old's objective is the Classic. Same with Toccet, who gets in at 113.

The Goodwood field will include Grey Memo (116), Reba's Gold (116), Fleetstreet Dance (113), Taste of Paradise (113), and Star Cross (110).

Capitano plays role of Norfolk spoiler

When trainer Woody Stephens sent outstanding turf mare Sabin to Santa Anita in fall 1984, she trained out of Ray Bell's barn 36 and subsequently won the Yellow Ribbon Invitational. Nearly 20 years later, Sabin's bloodlines have returned to Bell in the form of a 2-year-old colt that will try to make a name for himself Sunday in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes.

Capitano, whose third dam is Sabin, plays the role of spoiler in the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk. The race will largely determine the local contingent for the BC Juvenile. Bell sees some similarity between Capitano and his great grand-dam. "He bears a striking resemblance to [Sabin]," Bell said. "She was small and slightly made, and he's not a big horse."

Capitano stands only 15 hands, two inches, but appearances are deceiving.

"To look at him you'd think he was a little speed horse, but his exercise rider and jockey all think a distance of ground is within reach," Bell said.

Capitano, by Belong To Me, followed his debut victory with a runner-up finish Aug. 17 in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar. After that race Bell plotted a Breeders' Cup campaign that meant skipping the Del Mar Futurity.

"Running in the Futurity, the Norfolk and Breeders' Cup would have been too much," Bell said. "I'm happy where we are. If he can finish strong and be third, and look good doing that, we'll be happy. It will be something to build on. I think one race will bring him perfect for the [Breeders' Cup] day."

A competitive field is taking shape for the $250,000 Norfolk, including three stakes winners - Siphonizer (Del Mar Futurity), Perfect Moon (Best Pal, Hollywood Juvenile), and Pomeroy (disqualified winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile). Trainer Bob Baffert will start three colts, all coming off impressive maiden wins - Odds On, Consecrate, and Coldntight. Rulers Court and Lucky Pulpit also will run.

Proud Citizen on edge for Ancient Title

The Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap on Sunday is a last chance for Proud Citizen, who trainer D. Wayne Lukas hopes to start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Proud Citizen scratched Saturday from the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park after a stray shoeing nail caused him to go lame in his right front. Assistant trainer Peter Hutton said the colt's shoe was removed, the foot was soaked, and Proud Citizen recovered.

Proud Citizen jogged a mile and a half Tuesday at Belmont, and was scheduled to ship Wednesday to Santa Anita. According to Hutton, Proud Citizen was ready for a peak race. "I said to Wayne I've never seen him with this much energy leading to a race."

Proud Citizen was assigned 113 pounds for the six-furlong Ancient Title, one of the strongest sprints of the year in California. The prospective field includes Captain Squire (117), Avanzado (116), Zavata (116), Bluesthestandard (115), Yankee Gentleman (114), Proud Citizen (113), and Green Team (111).

* Musical Chimes, whose devastating stretch kick in the Yellow Ribbon last Sunday came up short by three-quarters of a length to Tates Creek, has joined trainer Neil Drysdale's barn and will run in Drysdale's name in the Breeders' Cup Filly-Mare Turf. Drysdale said Tuesday that Musical Chimes and BC Turf contender Storming Home (the winner of the Clement L. Hirsch) came out of their races well.

* Royally Chosen, pacemaker for Lady's Secret upset winner Got Koko, will race next in the California Cup Matron on Nov. 8, according to trainer Bruce Headley. He said Got Koko came out her win in good shape and was on target for the BC Distaff.

* Headley's popular gelding Kona Gold will lead the post parade Sunday for the Ancient Title. Kona Gold, winner of the 2000 BC Sprint and Ancient Title, retired this summer at age 9.

* Two of trainer Darrell Vienna's top sprinters are out of action until next year. One is Disturbingthepeace, who underwent surgery after a sesamoid injury to a left hind leg, and will be out six months. The other is Echo Eddie, who will be out four months with various aches and pains. No surgery is required.

Saint-Martin happy to be back

Jockey Eric Saint-Martin began his career as an apprentice in Southern California, returned to his native France, and most recently was riding in Hong Kong. He has come full circle. Saint-Martin is back at Santa Anita, and said he plans to ride year-round in Southern California for the rest of his career.

"I had enough of Hong Kong after eight years," Saint-Martin said at Santa Anita. "I've always liked it here."

Saint-Martin, 38, was an apprentice here 18 years ago. The son of French riding great Yves Saint-Martin rode successfully in France, where his major victories included the Arc de Triomphe with Urban Sea, and he was a top rider in Hong Kong.

"Everyone came to me in Hong Kong. Here, you have to go to them. I'm in no rush. I'm going to be here forever," Saint-Martin said.

Saint-Martin and his family - wife, Laurence, a former model, daughter Carla, and son Anthony - left Hong Kong in May because of the SARS outbreak.

"Schools were closed. Everyone was wearing a mask," Saint-Martin said. "It was a big mess."

Saint-Martin's agent is Derek Lawson, who also books mounts for French native Tony Farina.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman