05/02/2002 11:00PM

Ladylore was a shocker

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The most shocking result of the California Gold Rush Day program last weekend at Hollywood Park was nearly 15 years in the making.

Ladylore won the $200,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies at 31-1 under Laffit Pincay Jr., only five weeks after she was claimed for $32,000 at Santa Anita by trainer Bill Spawr and owner Ted Wafer.

Spawr had Ladylore in his sights all winter, and made the claim on March 16. In the late 1980's, he trained her dam, Romantic Jet.

"I remember she had a sore back," Spawr said of Romantic Jet. "She was a runner. This filly looked just like her mother. When I first saw her, she was a good-looking filly, but real green. When she started looking better, we decided to claim her."

Ladylore's victory was worth $120,000, or nearly four times her claiming price. "That's pretty good," Spawr said. "We don't do that very often."

Spawr admits the victory was a shock.

"I expected her to be way back and make one run," he said. "Laffit didn't have many options. A lot of my friends had asked me, 'What do I think?' I said, 'She'll outrun her odds.' It was an aggressive race we placed her in. I was surprised she won."

Ladylore's victory is the first stakes winner for her sire, Video Ranger, who is best known for finishing fourth in the 1990 Kentucky Derby. A 15-year-old, Video Ranger is owned by Myung Kwon Cho, who trained him.

Cho also campaigned Nationalore, Ladylore's full-brother, who was winless in 26 starts, but earned $318,226 and finished third in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Hollywood Park.

Spawr claimed Ladylore from Cho.

Video Ranger stands at Wilson Stock Farm in Hemet, which is owned by Jim and Brenda Wilson.

Their farm also serves as a rehabilitation facility for horses coming and going from the track. At times, there are as many as 140 horses on the grounds.

Cho has two stallions at Wilson Stock Farm, including Dominated Debut, and breeds primarily to his own mares. Video Ranger has a listed stud fee of $3,500, but Jim Wilson says Cho has no plans to breed to outside mares this year.

The farm also stands Kessem Power, a New Zealand-bred who won the San Luis Rey Stakes in 2000. "This is his first crop and he's got 23 or 24 foals coming," Jim Wilson said.

Spawr has no specific goals for Ladylore. Later at the Hollywood Park meeting, Ladylore could be nominated to the $250,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks over 1 1/16 miles on June 15.

"She needs about three to five weeks between races," Spawr said. "She's a little on the fragile side. Right now, we'll just gloat."

One-time $240,000 colt nears first race

Nearly two years after he was purchased for $240,000 at the 2000 Del Mar Yearling Sale, Ranch Hand is nearing the start of his career.

A Bertrando colt out of the stakes-placed mare When, Ranch Hand is in training with Mike Puype at Churchill Downs. Puype trains for Gary Biszantz's Cobra Farm.

On Friday, the 3-year-old Ranch Hand had his first recorded workout, going a half-mile in 49.20 seconds.

Ranch Hand recently arrived at Puype's barn from 505 Farms, where he spent the winter. Ranch Hand was in training at the track last year, but was given a layoff after a nuclear scan revealed a shoulder problem.

"He didn't show fractures," Puype said.

Puype said Ranch Hand will remain in Kentucky, but could go to California for statebred races if he shows promise.

"If he's the right kind of horse, we'd go back," Puype said. "How could we pass up that kind of money, if he's that kind of horse?"

The mare When has had two foals go through the Del Mar yearling sale. Her first, Leanessa, was purchased for $200,000 in 1999. She has won three of six starts, and is trained by Bruce Headley.