08/24/2006 11:00PM

Lava Man's next - the Clement Hirsch on turf


DEL MAR, Calif. - Lava Man, the leading older horse in California, is likely to make his next start in the $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles on turf on Sept. 30 instead of the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on the main track on Oct. 7, trainer Doug O'Neill and co-owner Steve Kenly said on Friday.

O'Neill said that he has discussed plans for Lava Man in the last week with Kenly and co-owner Jason Wood following Lava Man's sixth consecutive stakes win in the Pacific Classic here last Sunday.

"I think the Clement Hirsch is more appealing," O'Neill said.

A decision to go in the Hirsch would give Lava Man a five-week gap to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. O'Neill and Lava Man's owners would like to send the 5-year-old gelding to Churchill Downs in mid-October to acclimate to conditions there. Last fall, Lava Man was badly beaten in stakes at Belmont Park and Tokyo Racecourse, his only two starts outside of California in 2005.

"He needs to settle in," Kenly said.

Lava Man is unbeaten in two starts on turf this year, both at Hollywood Park - the Khaled Stakes against statebreds in April and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap in June.

The Clement Hirsch will not be an easy spot for Lava Man. The Tin Man, who won the Arlington Million earlier this month, is also a candidate for that race.

BC Sprint is Siren Lure's next stop

Siren Lure, the top sprinter in California this summer, will make his next start in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, trainer Art Sherman said on Thursday.

Sherman said Siren Lure would skip the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 7.

"He likes to be fresh going into a race," Sherman said. "It's not hard to keep him sharp."

Owned by Stuart Kesselman and Tony and Marilyn Melkonian, Siren Lure has won 12 of 20 starts and $769,909. A 5-year-old gelding claimed for $50,000 last year, Siren Lure has won his last three starts - the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap in May, the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap in July, and the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar last Sunday.

In the Pat O'Brien, Siren Lure rallied from last in a field of seven to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Pure as Gold.

Earlier this summer, Sherman had debated whether to point Siren Lure to the BC Sprint or the BC Mile on turf, but has opted for the Sprint.

"I thought about it, but it's a two-turn mile," Sherman said. "He's sprinting so darn good now."

Pure as Gold, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap on July 30 and second in the Pat O'Brien, is being pointed for the Ancient Title, trainer Jack Carava said.

Claimed by La Canada Stables for $100,000 in June, Pure as Gold needs another start against top sprinters to justify a trip to the Breeders' Cup, Carava said.

"It depends on the Ancient Title," Carava said. "I fear he doesn't belong. I've got no pressure from the owner."

Proposed injured and retired

Proposed, the winner of two Grade 2 stakes this year, has been retired after suffering a knee injury, trainer John Shirreffs said. The injury was detected after Proposed's fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares on Aug. 18.

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, Proposed, 4, has won 7 of 15 starts and $567,600. She had her best season this year, winning 3 of 7 starts, including the El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita in January and two stakes at Hollywood Park - the B. Thoughtful Handicap for statebreds in April and the Grade 2 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap in May.

Shirreffs said that Proposed underwent a nuclear scan this week that revealed a fracture in the knee. By Benchmark, Proposed will be bred next year, Shirreffs said.

Meanwhile, A. P. Warrior, the winner of the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap here on Aug. 12, will pass the $400,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3 to have more time between starts. Shirreffs said.

The tentative plan is for A. P. Warrior to return for the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita on Oct. 14.

"He hasn't breezed" since the La Jolla Handicap, Shirreffs said.

Leprechaun Kid returns to the scene

Leprechaun Kid was the star of the program at Del Mar on the final Sunday of August last year, winning the biggest race of his career in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. This year, he appears on the same card, but only as a supporting player.

Leprechaun Kid, 7, starts in a $62,500 claimer race at 1 1/8 miles on turf, the day's second race. He was nominated for the Del Mar Handicap, but trainer Mike Mitchell has opted for the easier race.

Asked if Leprechaun Kid had any infirmities that necessitates him running in claiming races, Mitchell said, "He's just old."

Leprechaun Kid has made two starts this year, finishing fourth in the Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in July and third in the Escondido Handicap here on Aug. 2.

To be a factor in the Del Mar Handicap, Mitchell said, Leprechaun Kid would need an easy lead and a lot of luck.

"That was the last race he won and it was a year ago," Mitchell said. "It's time to put him where he belongs."

Sunday's race is the first time that Leprechaun Kid has appeared in a claiming race since July 2005 when he was taken for $80,000 by his current connections.

Mitchell will have a starter in the Del Mar Handicap, a race he also won in 2004 with Star over the Bay. He'll run run Symphony Sid, 6, who was claimed for $50,000 last month.