06/30/2008 11:00PM

Leg injury proves too much


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The injury and subsequent retirement of Heatseeker did not just happen overnight, even though trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and owner William de Burgh initially wanted to believe the filling in his ankle was just an untimely setback last week.

"Horses have trauma on their joints, and their ankles fill up time to time," Hollendorfer explained Tuesday. That includes Heatseeker. "He had little filling in an ankle every now and then."

Usually, it is not serious. Ankle filling might cause a horse to miss a workout, or a race, but when the swelling subsides, the campaign continues. That is what Hollendorfer and assistant trainer Dan Ward hoped after Heatseeker lit up the Hollywood track on Sunday, June 22, with a five-furlong workout in a blazing 57.80 seconds.

"Monday and Tuesday, it looked perfect," Ward said. "Wednesday, he galloped and there was a little more filling. You wouldn't be able to see anything."

So how did Ward suspect something was amiss?

"Just by feeling his legs every day for the 10 months, you could tell it was a little bit thicker," he said.

Entries for the Gold Cup were taken Wednesday, and by late Thursday, Ward told Hollendorfer, "I'm worried."

Hollendorfer also was concerned, but he remained optimistic. "It'll come down," the trainer said, referring to heat and swelling in his left foreleg.

"Usually, they come down," Hollendorfer said. "What happened is that it didn't come down."

Even after Hollendorfer announced Friday that Heatseeker was out of the Gold Cup, to be run the following day, he still hoped the setback was temporary.

Heatseeker "was never lame, he never galloped 'off' and never jogged 'off,' " Hollendorfer said. "He was totally sound."

But when the swelling did not subside, further examinations revealed a soft-tissue injury to a branch of his suspensory ligament in his left foreleg. It is an injury Heatseeker could recover from in four to six months, but the decision was made to retire him.

Tuesday morning at Barn 63 on the Hollywood Park backstretch, a playful Heatseeker nipped at passersby.

"Look at him," Ward said, smiling. "He doesn't even know anything's wrong."

Heatseeker will remain stabled at Hollywood until a decision is made on his career as a stallion. He won 7 races and $1,180,233 from 17 starts; his biggest win was the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

Magnificience impresses in defeat

Is there any doubt that Magnificience is the best filly-mare sprinter in California? Favored at 5-2 Saturday in the Grade 2 A Gleam, she broke next-to-last, raced four- and five-wide throughout, and finished second behind rail-skimming front-runner Dearest Trickski.

"She stood there like a lamb until the gates opened," trainer Bruce Headley said of Magnificience, whose head was in the air when they sprang the latch. She will try again Aug. 24 at Del Mar in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares. The A Gleam was only her second start of the year, and first loss in four career starts.

"She's a fresh girl," Headley said.

Street Boss, Surf Cat work

Street Boss, the Headley-trained sprinter who overcame a bad start last out to win the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap, worked a half-mile Tuesday at Santa Anita in a bullet 46.80 seconds and will be favored Saturday in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap.

David Flores was up early Tuesday, working Grade 2 winner Surf Cat one mile at 5 a.m. in preparation for the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on Aug. 19 at Del Mar. Surf Cat was timed in 1:39.80. He skipped the Hollywood Gold Cup after bruising a foot, but missed only two days' training and is on target for Del Mar.

Cosmic Queen's unlucky day

Even-money Cosmic Queen had two major excuses for finishing third Saturday in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes - one happened in the paddock and another at the gate. The 2-year-old filly spooked while she was being saddled, jumped, and scraped the inside of her right rear leg. The superficial injury was not serious, but things got worse in the race.

When the gates opened, the ground broke out from under Cosmic Queen, she bobbled, and while struggling to regain her footing she knocked the back of her left front leg, which resulted in a knot.

"The good news is she pulled up okay," trainer Chris Paasch said. "It was just an unlucky day."

Cosmic Queen finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. Paasch said she could run next in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 6 at Del Mar, pending the performance opening week at Del Mar by unraced filly Stardom Bound.

Precious Kitten ready for work

Ventura may be the only starter trainer Bobby Frankel needs Saturday in the Grade 2 CashCall Mile, but Precious Kitten would have been mighty tough in the $750,000 turf race. Precious Kitten has not worked since winning the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap on May 26.

"She had a quarter cracking going into that race, it got infected, but she's back on the track now; she'll breeze next week," Frankel said Tuesday.

Precious Kitten could return in either the John C. Mabee on Aug. 3 at Del Mar, or the Beverly D. on Aug. 9 at Arlington.

Periban enjoying hot streak

The first five weeks of the meet, trainer Jorge Periban was ice-cold - 1 win from 36 starters. The past month, no trainer has been hotter. Periban entered the week having won 8 of his last 17, and the total is likely to increase Thursday night when his three starters include the filly he said is the best horse in the stable.

Bea's Cee, fresh from a big maiden win on the main track, switches to grass in race 2, an allowance sprint for California-bred fillies and mares.

"She has never worked on grass, but she has a pedigree for grass," Periban said.

Bea's Cee, by Cee's Tizzy, is out of a mare whose four winners all won the first time they tried grass - Jasjonjake, J J Jake, Continental Wine, and Julies Flying Now.

Periban said Bea's Cee is using the Thursday allowance to prep for the $100,000 Fleet Treat on July 20 at Del Mar.

"Someone asked, who is my best horse?" Periban said. "I said, this filly."

In addition to Bea's Cee, Periban starts two strong contenders Thursday - My Sister Laureen in race 6 and Athenry in race 8.