08/21/2005 11:00PM

Lava Man okay; 'Musique' bows tendon


DEL MAR, Calif. - Lava Man and Musique Toujours both had to be vanned from the track following the Pacific Classic on Sunday at Del Mar, but only the injury to Musique Toujours appears to be serious.

Musique Toujours, who won the Sunshine Millions Classic earlier this year, suffered a bowed tendon in his left front leg, which may preclude him from running again, trainer John Sadler said Monday morning.

"Whether it's career ending, probably," Sadler said. "But at the least he's going to get a good, long rest."

Musique Toujours finished last in the 11-horse field. The 5-year-old is a gelding, so there is incentive to let him recuperate and see if he is well enough to return to the races. He has won 5 of 22 starts and $771,320.

Lava Man was reported unsound in his right front leg by track veterinarian Dr. Ray Baran. But Baran told Dr. Rick Arthur, who was working Sunday's telecast of the show on ESPN2 as the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, that the injury did not seem serious.

Doug O'Neill, the trainer of Lava Man, theorized that the horse was suffering from heat exhaustion. He finished third under Patrick Valenzuela after setting a hot pace.

"Knock on wood, he's great this morning," O'Neill said Monday. "I think he was kind of fatigued. He took a couple of rubber-legged steps, so Patrick was cautious and got off him."

O'Neill said that Lava Man, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, would be pointed to the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.

Borrego, who won the Pacific Classic, will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, with a possible prep in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 1, trainer Beau Greely said.

Perfect Drift is scheduled to return to Kentucky on Wednesday, where he will prepare for a fourth straight appearance in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Choctaw Nation, who finished fourth, will have a lighter campaign before a scheduled return visit to Dubai next March, trainer Jeff Mullins said. Choctaw Nation finished third in this year's Dubai World Cup.

"Our goal is to go to Dubai again," Mullins said. "A couple of spots between now and then will be plenty."

Rock Hard Ten works fast

This year's three major races for older horses in California all were won by different horses. Borrego won the Pacific Classic, Lava Man the Hollywood Gold Cup, and Rock Hard Ten the Santa Anita Handicap. Rock Hard Ten has been out of action since earlier this year, but he continues to train strongly for his return later this fall.

On Monday, Rock Hard Ten worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 with exercise rider Paul Nillaung. Even though he was given the rare "breezing" designation by Del Mar's clockers, Rock Hard Ten still equaled the fastest time of the 17 runners who worked six furlongs on Monday.

"He worked super," said Richard Mandella, who trains Rock Hard Ten. "I have no intention of running him here at Del Mar. Ideally, I'd like to have him run a good race in the Goodwood, and then go on to the Breeders' Cup.

"We've got more time than we need, so he'll be ready to run when we get to the Goodwood. I think he can step from that right up to the plate."

Singhalese may try BC Filly-Mare Turf

Singhalese and Three Degrees, the first two finishers in Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, may be headed in different directions in coming months.

Trainer Jim Cassidy is considering pointing Singhalese for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, while Three Degrees is likely to stay in the 3-year-old filly turf division and start in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 15.

In the Del Mar Oaks, Singhalese scored her first stakes win, finishing a half-length in front of Three Degrees. Ridden by Mike Smith, Singhalese rallied wide to reach the front in the final furlong.

"I told Mike, 'I really appreciate your ride. You rode with so much confidence,' " Cassidy said on Sunday. "The move she made around the turn was pretty incredible."

Cassidy won the 2004 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with Ticker Tape, who did not start in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

"Ticker Tape wasn't quite ready for the older" mares, Cassidy said.

A tougher campaign may be in order for Singhalese. Cassidy said Singhalese might start in the $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes against older mares at Santa Anita on Oct. 1. Still, Cassidy did not rule out a start in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. If Singhalese goes in that race, she could start in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park on Sept. 17 as a prep, Cassidy said.

"This one is different," Cassidy said of Singhalese. "She has more size. But it's hard to turn down a race for 3-year-olds only."

Three Degrees, trained by Paddy Gallagher, was unlucky in the Del Mar Oaks. Ridden by Alex Solis, Three Degrees was in traffic on the final turn but made up considerable ground in the stretch.

"The winner went about her business on the turn and we had to wait a little," Gallagher said. "Alex thought if she'd gotten out it might have been different."

Trainer Blincoe suspended

Trainer Tom Blincoe has been suspended for 30 days because one of his runners at Santa Anita in March tested positive for xylazine, a sedative.

A post-race test of Stove Pipe, third in the third race on March 13, showed the positive, according to the California Horse Racing Board. Stove Pipe earned $1,680 for finishing third in a $10,000 claimer for sprinters that day.

The suspension begins Tuesday and runs through Sept. 21. Blincoe, 68, has transferred some of the horses in his stable to other trainers, track stewards said. Through Saturday, Blincoe had 2 winners from 29 starters this year.

Stulls get a race to remember

Owner-breeders Tom and Debbie Stull had a memorable sixth race on Sunday, a $65,000 maiden special weight for statebred 2-year-old fillies.

They bred and own the winner, Bless Idbyour Name, and bred the second- and third-place finishers, Sierra Sweetie and Oneinspiredtopper. The Stulls do not own the latter two horses.

The winner is by Valid Wager, while the second and third are by Old Topper. Both stallions stand at Tommy Town.

A $1 all-Tommy Town trifecta returned $48.70.

* Intercontinental, preparing for the Grade 2, $200,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 3, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Monday morning for Humberto Ascanio, Bobby Frankel's West Coast assistant. Ascanio also sent Three Valleys out for a five-furlong drill in 1:01.60 in preparation for the Grade 2, $350,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 4. Both works were on the dirt, but both horses will be racing on the turf.

* Fusaichi Rock Star, preparing for the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, worked five furlongs in 59 seconds on Sunday at Del Mar for trainer Bob Baffert.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen