02/19/2002 12:00AM

Kudos may step way up, thank you

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The cheapest stakes at Santa Anita last weekend may produce a starter for the meeting's richest race.

After Kudos won Sunday's $72,575 San Marino Handicap, trainer Richard Mandella said he may return for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 2. Run over 1 1/4 miles, the San Marino was transferred from turf to dirt, which did not bother Mandella. "I've been hoping for this in the last few weeks," Mandella said.

The 5-year-old * won the San Marino under Eddie Delahoussaye despite losing a shoe. The restricted stakes was his first win on dirt and fifth win in his last 10 starts.

"He hadn't won anything until I castrated him," Mandella said. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Kudos started in two Grade 1 stakes on turf last year, finishing fourth in the Clement Hirsch Stakes in September and fifth in the Hollywood Turf Cup. Mandella realizes Kudos must show further improvement to be a factor in a Big Cap field led by Mizzen Mast, the winner of the Malibu and Strub Stakes at this meeting.

"He'll have to run a better race than this," Mandella said.

The Big Cap has nine probables. Aside from Kudos and Mizzen Mast, the field is expected to include Cagney, Euchre, Fancy As, Freedom Crest, Futural, Giant Gentlemen, and Last Parade.

Mandella also trains Cagney, who finished third in the San Marcos Stakes on the turf last month.

Astra scratched over skin infection

* was scratched from Monday's Buena Vista Handicap after developing a skin infection over the weekend, trainer Laura de Seroux said.

De Seroux said Astra was diagnosed with pustular dermatitis, or infections as large as six inches in diameter that were producing pus. She said a culture had been taken to provide more information.

Plans for a start were abandoned on Sunday when the skin infection failed to respond to treatment.

"I can't get a saddle on her," de Seroux said. "I've got to get her on antibiotics. I can't present her in the paddock that way." Astra has not started since finishing ninth in the Beverly D. Stakes last August. De Seroux said Astra would be pointed for the $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 23.

"She's not in any health danger," de Seroux said.

Paga, the winner of the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on Dec. 31, was also scratched after popping a quarter crack, trainer Richard Mandella said. She will be pointed for the $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap on April 7.

Solis and Garcia punished after dispute

Jockeys Alex Solis and Matt Garcia were sanctioned on Monday for their involvement in an altercation following Sunday's seventh race.

Solis, the leading rider at this meeting, was fined $1,000 by track stewards for "intentionally striking another rider with a whip."

Garcia was given two five-day suspensions, for causing interference in the first turn and for unprofessional conduct, which was described in a ruling as "endangering the well being of a horse."

The incident began on the first turn of the seventh race when Bold Roberta, ridden by Garcia, caused interference to Color Me Special, who was ridden by Solis. Bold Roberta was racing off the rail and appeared to move to the inside through the turn, forcing Color Me Special and Rain Dancer, who was ridden by Laffit Pincay, to take up.

Rain Dancer went on to win, while Bold Roberta and Color Me Special finished fourth and last, respectively. There was no steward's inquiry and no objections lodged.

After the race, Garcia and Solis were involved in an argument while pulling up. Solis said that Garcia moved Bold Roberta alongside him and "tried to drop me." Solis admitted to striking Garcia on the back with his whip.

On Monday, Garcia said he was considering finding a lawyer and requesting an appeal. "I was not at fault in any of it," he said.

Sunday's incident is the latest in a series of altercations involving Garcia, who has received lengthy suspension in the past for rough riding. He felt he was singled out on Sunday. "Things have got to change," he said. "I want a fair chance to ride."

Solis has no plans to appeal his fine.

"He tried to drop me," he said. "I wish I would have contained myself, but I was very upset. "For a sixteenth of a mile, Laffit and I were yelling at him [for room]. That's how a horse can get hurt."

Glatt needed a Glatt clone

Trainer Mark Glatt tried to be in two places at once on Sunday.

Glatt spent the morning overseeing his stable at Santa Anita, but was in constant contact with his wife, Dena, who was in labor across the street at Arcadia Methodist.

By lunchtime, Glatt was at the hospital where Dena gave birth to Ryan James Glatt at 1:17 p.m. Assured that mother and son were doing fine, he went back to the races where he had four starters. He was still at the hospital when Our Magistrate won the first race, but arrived in time to watch Bluesthestandard win the sixth race.

"I heard the call on the phone," Glatt said of the first race. "Everything was going great, so I went back to watch my other horses." Glatt, 29, has a 20-horse stable consisting mostly of claimers. Sunday was the first time he had saddled two winners at a Southern California track, a milestone he reached previously in northern California.

Jockey Joy Scott set to return from injury

Jockey Joy Scott, who has not ridden in 13 months since enduring a spill at Los Alamitos, hopes to return to riding next month.

Scott, 43, suffered a broken leg in the spill. She attempted a comeback last summer at Del Mar but abandoned the plan because the leg had not healed properly.

"My right leg was an inch shorter," she said. "I was crippled."

Scott underwent a second operation in late September and had a bone grafted from her hip inserted in the leg.

"The doctor said I'd need six months off," she said. "I want to be back to racing in the latter part of March."

Scott was riding on both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse circuits at the time of the accident. She was injured in an 870-yard race for Quarter Horses in January 2001. "It's been a long time off," she said. "It seems like it was another lifetime."

Blue Moon rallies to first graded stakes win

Regardless of whether she was responding to the urging screams of jockey Brice Blanc or newfound running room before her, Blue Moon rallied to win her first graded stakes in Monday's $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita.

Stuck behind a wall of front-runners turning for home, Blue Moon found space near the eighth pole and caught Queen of Wilshire in the final furlong to win the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares by a neck.

"When I saw the opening, I went for it," Blanc said. "I screamed, and she took off and exploded. It's easier to do that with these European horses that have the response."

Blue Moon ($10.60) was timed in 1:35.54. Queen of Wilshire finished a length in front of Old Money, the 2-1 favorite, who was followed by Minor Details, Elegant Ridge, Veil of Avalon, and Canzone.

Old Money, who stalked Queen of Wilshire on the backstretch, drew within striking range in early stretch but could not sustain the rally.

In addition to the scratch of Astra, the morning-line favorite, Paga, Verruma, and Walt's Wharf were also withdrawn.

The Grade 2 Buena Vista was Blue Moon's first start since she finished sixth in the Las Palmas Handicap over this course last November. According to trainer Ron Ellis, she emerged from that race with a bruised foot.

"She runs best when she's fresh," Ellis said. "We wanted to point her for races that meant something."

Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, the 5-year-old Blue Moon has won four of 10 starts and $277,739. She was a stakes winner in France before she was acquired by Hughes. In 2000, she finished second for him in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

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