06/11/2001 11:00PM

Kona Gold-Caller One match seeks sponsor


ARCADIA, Calif. - It's not quite Seabiscuit versus Ligaroti, but preliminary discussions are under way at Del Mar for a July 21 match race between the country's top two sprinters - Caller One and Kona Gold. The purse for the six-furlong race would be at least $500,000 and tentatively is scheduled for the first Saturday of the meet.

Beyond confirming that conversations have been held, Tom Robbins, Del Mar's racing secretary, declined to offer specifics regarding funding, purse breakdown, or weight. Del Mar faces numerous hurdles before pulling off the race. In addition to satisfying its own fiscal interests, Del Mar must gain approval from the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and meet requirements of the participants.

"It's got to be for a lot of money," Caller One's trainer, Jim Chapman said. "It's got to be for a half-million or more, otherwise what's the point?"

Del Mar is seeking outside sponsorship, a tough sell without television coverage and with constant threat of the race falling apart, as it did the last time Del Mar conducted a match, on Aug. 21, 1994. Soviet Problem and Cool Air each had won six of their last seven, but a setback to Cool Air prevented her participation. An off-form Mamselle Bebette was a last-minute fill-in, but put up little fight. Soviet Problem romped by 6 1/2 lengths at 2-5.

The July 21 scheduling of the Caller One-Kona Gold match allows for an appropriate safety net. Should the match race be called off, either horse could run the following day in the Grade 2 Bing Crosby at six furlongs, won last year by Kona Gold.

Kona Gold's trainer, Bruce Headley, recognizes the potential advantage of his rival. Caller One, said Headley "is fast; we'll have to stalk him. It'll be the rabbit against the bulldog," he said. "They are the two fastest sprinters in the world, there's no doubt about it. But it has to be for $500,000, and they have to find a sponsor. I don't want to take the horsemen's money."

Champion sprinter Kona Gold has won five straight, including the Breeders' Cup. A 7-year-old with 11 wins and more than $1.8 million in earnings from 19 starts, Kona Gold has not started since April. Caller One finished fourth in the BC Sprint won by Kona Gold, but has since won a $2 million sprint in Dubai and the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap May 27 at Hollywood Park. Caller One, 4, will be nominated to the Grade 2 Triple Bend Handicap on July 1 at Hollywood.

Tizbud coming along

Tizbud has mighty big shoes to fill. A full brother to Horse of the Year Tiznow and graded stakes winner Budroyale, 2-year-old Tizbud arrived Friday at the Santa Anita barn of trainer Jay Robbins. If appearance means anything, he could be all right.

Tizbud is by Cee's Tizzy, out of the mare Cee's Song, and has the same dark bay coloring of Tiznow. While Tiznow has four white feet and an unmistakable blaze, Tizbud has a white right ankle and a star on his forehead. He is well-built, good-sized for a 2-year-old, and, Robbins noted, "He's got a nice way of moving, and the farm manager said he's one of the smartest horses he has had."

Tizbud is weeks away from his first breeze, and Tiznow is only galloping as he progresses toward a summer comeback. Tiznow has been exercising on the Santa Anita training track and was scheduled to get more serious Wednesday by returning to main-track gallops. Robbins has not pinpointed a date for Tiznow's first breeze.

Budroyale is further along. He had the second three-furlong breeze of his comeback on Monday, and will work his first half-mile Saturday. Trainer Ted H. West believes Budroyale, a 7-year-old gelding, can return in top form after fracturing his shoulder.

"Soundness shouldn't hold him back, and it doesn't look like age will," West said. "A lot of times, age catches up with a horse because injuries catch up with them. But a fractured shoulder is like bucked shins, you only have to give them time. He could be ready early Del Mar."

Tizsweet, a 3-year-old full sister to Tiznow and Budroyale, has been retired and bred to Awesome Again.

99 reasons to love September Secret

Trainer Michael Machowsky has hit one out of the park. A 2-year-old filly he purchased as a yearling for only $20,000 posted a sensational Beyer Speed Figure of 99 winning her debut on Sunday, after which, Machowsky says, his phone has not stopped ringing.

The filly, September Secret, by Our Emblem, won by a length in 57.07 seconds, the second-fastest five furlongs of the meet. Machowsky owns September Secret, but that could change before she runs in the Grade 3 Landaluce Stakes on July 7. "The offers are starting to get up there," Machowsky said, "I had 12 phone calls Monday, and a couple more Tuesday. I'll probably sell, but maybe somebody will buy her and leave her in my barn."

The trainer has another in the wings - a filly by Allen's Prospect. Machowsky said "she acts like she's just as good. But it's too early to tell."