02/20/2004 12:00AM

Kid rider Bisono starts fast


ARCADIA, Calif. - Becoming a jockey was the only profession that interested Alex Bisono when he was growing up in Hempstead, N.Y.

"I have no idea what else I would do," he said on Friday morning at Santa Anita.

Bisono, 19, seems to have found his calling. He is off to an impressive start in his career, which began last fall at Bay Meadows.

Through Thursday, Bisono ranked 10th in the Santa Anita jockey standings with 12 wins. He will not challenge leading jockey Alex Solis, but still is elated at the progress he has made in recent months.

"I didn't think I'd start off this great, but I've been around Santa Anita. I knew what Santa Anita was all about," Bisono said.

Bisono has two older brothers who are jockeys - Caesar, who rides in northern California, and John, who rides in Puerto Rico. The family is from Long Island.

Their father owned horses 10 years ago and Alex spent many days tagging along with his brother to the racetrack.

Bisono left high school early to go to a jockey school in Puerto Rico. He spent a year galloping at Bay Area tracks before he began riding last September. He moved to Southern California in the fall and had two wins from 29 mounts at the Hollywood Park fall meeting.

Bisono has been in the top 10 at Santa Anita since Feb. 8. "I think I'm a really patient rider," he said. "I think I'm pretty strong for the time I've been riding."

The competition among apprentice jockeys increased earlier this week when Mick Ruis, the leading rider at Turf Paradise, moved back to California. Ruis began his career at Hollywood Park last spring and rode on this circuit until late summer.

Bisono has four mounts on Sunday - Queen's Counsel in the first, O.K. Stay in the fourth, Four Checker in the seventh, and Fax Machine in the ninth.

"You get broken in really well here," he said. "I'm riding with the best jockeys in the world."

Pleasantly Perfect, Action This Day work

Concerned about wet conditions over the weekend, trainer Richard Mandella worked top males Pleasantly Perfect and Action This Day on Friday for the second time within five days.

Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of three consecutive stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Classic last October and the San Antonio Handicap on Jan. 31, worked six furlongs in 1:17 on Friday. On Monday, Pleasantly Perfect worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40.

Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, worked a half-mile in 50.60 seconds on Friday. Tuesday, Action This Day worked three furlongs in 36.80 seconds.

Typically, horses have six or seven days between workouts, but Mandella decided to give the pair slower workouts on Friday rather than waiting a few days. Rain is expected throughout the weekend.

"This is going to get us by," Mandella said. "We can have our serious works after it's all over. This is the first time I've had to do this in a long time."

In recent months, Southern California trainers have had little interruption from rain. The region has had less rainfall than normal.

Mandella plans to start Pleasantly Perfect in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 and Action This Day in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 14.

Star Cross tunes up for Big Cap

Star Cross, another Big Cap hopeful, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Friday. The runner-up in the San Antonio Handicap, Star Cross will be a longshot in the Big Cap, which is run over 1 1/4 miles.

Trainer Darrell Vienna has not settled on a rider. Victor Espinoza, who had the mount in the San Antonio, is expected to ride Southern Image, the winner of the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds on Jan. 24.

Other Big Cap hopefuls are Buddy Gil, Domestic Dispute, Olmodavor, Royal Place, Saint Buddy, and Toccet.

Santa Maria rivals in Santa Margarita

Star Parade, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 16, will return in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, facing Fencelineneighbor, the runner-up in the La Canada Stakes on Feb. 14, and Adoration, who was fourth in the Santa Maria.

Fencelineneighbor finished a head behind Cat Fighter in the La Canada after leading in deep stretch. Trainer Mike Machowsky said Fencelineneighbor will not wear blinkers in the Santa Margarita.

Adoration finished four lengths behind Star Parade in the Santa Maria after tracking that mare to the final turn. Trainer David Hofmans said Star Parade's pace was too hot. "We had to try to stay close to that filly," Hofmans said.

Still no reason for Victory Encounter's clunker

The Santa Margarita will not include Victory Encounter, who finished last as the favorite in the La Canada. Trained by John Sadler, Victory Encounter underwent a nuclear scan last week. The tests revealed no injury, Sadler said.

The winner of the El Encino Stakes in January, Victory Encounter will resume training in coming days. "We'll breeze a few times and look for a race," he said. "We have no set agenda."

e there has been less rain, and Meza and his crew have done a good job to prevent any overwhelming track biases.

"We like to keep it so everyone has a chance," Meza said.