05/10/2004 11:00PM

Lifestyle may take Grade 1 leap

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Lifestyle's romping allowance win Sunday at Belmont Park - a 13 1/2-length win that earned a 105 Beyer Figure - may have earned the 4-year-old colt a berth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap on July 3 at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Wesley Ward, who owns the colt with Roger King, said plans have not been finalized, but Lifestyle will be strongly considered for the seven-furlong Triple Bend.

Originally purchased for $1.1 million by The Thoroughbred Corp. and trained by Bob Baffert, Lifestyle did not make it to the races until after Ward and King purchased the colt for $300,000 at The Thoroughbred Corp. dispersal in March at Barretts. He made his debut soon after the sale, winning a March 12 maiden race at Gulfstream Park by 9 3/4 lengths with a 100 Beyer.

Making it to his second start was an adventure.

Lifestyle colicked while being shipped from Florida to Churchill Downs for a Derby week allowance race. "He went right from the plane to the hospital," Ward said.

Lifestyle spent two days under close veterinary care, recovered, and shipped to New York. Though he had no workouts for 2 1/2 weeks, Lifestyle was doing so well that Ward and King ran him in the seven-furlong allowance.

The victory, achieved under a less-than-ideal training pattern, gives Ward a reason to push him up in class.

"Obviously you want to develop your horse, but it looks like he'll be competitive at this distance anyway," Ward said.

Lifestyle, ridden Sunday by Joe Bravo, won both his races at seven furlongs. The 105 Beyer that Lifestyle earned in the allowance matches the figure earned by Pohave on Sunday for winning the Los Angeles Times Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Flores changes agents

Jockey David Flores has ended an eight-year partnership with agent Jim Pegram, and will be represented by agent Bob Meldahl starting next Wednesday at Hollywood Park. Meldahl will continue to book mounts for jockey Mike Smith.

Flores, 36, said, "It was a hard decision, but sometimes we need to change."

Flores and Pegram had been together since 1996, and since then Flores's horses had earned about $60 million. Flores enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2003, when he won 155 races, including the Arlington Million (Sulamani), Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Action This Day), Eddie Read (Special Ring), and Woodford Reserve (Honor in War). The jockey's 2003 mounts earned more than $10.7 million, but business declined in 2004.

Through Sunday, Flores had won 42 of 281 races; his mounts had earned $2.6 million.

Pegram said the agent switch did not catch him completely off guard; rumors have circulated for two years that Flores planned to change. One of the top riders in Southern California, Flores has won riding titles at Santa Anita and Del Mar, and led the Fairplex Park standings six consecutive years starting in 1989. Entering Wednesday's races, Flores had won 2,662 races from 18,287 mounts, and had earnings of more than $96 million.

Before he hired Meldahl, Flores contacted Smith, who gave Flores the go-ahead. According to Meldahl, Smith "said it was fine, as long as we work as a team."

Pegram said Tuesday that he now does not have a rider.

Most of Mandella's stars inactive

No one will feel sorry for trainer Richard Mandella, who won four Breeders' Cup races last fall, and the $6 million Dubai World Cup this spring. But Mandella admits, "I'll have a quiet summer."

Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the BC Classic and World Cup, has only resumed jogging and has no target date for a comeback. Two veteran geldings that are Grade 1 winners for Mandella - The Tin Man and Kudos - also are merely jogging as they prepare for late-summer returns. The Tin Man finished fourth in the BC Turf in his last start; Kudos has not raced since last July.

Mandella will not be entirely out of action, however. Del Mar Futurity winner Siphonizer blitzed second-level allowance foes by more than six lengths in his April 24 comeback at Churchill Downs, and the 104 Beyer he earned makes him one of the favorites May 29 for the Grade 2 Lazaro Barrera Handicap at seven furlongs. Siphonizer worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 on Monday.

Minister Eric underwent minor throat surgery to correct a breathing problem following his 16th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

"He was choking so bad he could hardly gallop back to be unsaddled," Mandella said.

Minister Eric is likely to run later in the Hollywood meet. Derby sixth-place finisher Action This Day will get a three-week break before he resumes serious training.

"We fought a back problem into the Derby; we pushed it far enough," Mandella said.

Halfbridled also is getting a four-week break, while Mandella said that Olmadavor came out of his fourth-place finish Saturday in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy "a little stiff."

Back to turf for Even the Score?

Even the Score emerged as a top dirt horse winning the Mervyn LeRoy, but may return to grass next out. Trainer Vladimir Cerin said the 6-year-old Even the Score will be nominated to two Hollywood stakes June 12 - the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and Grade 2 Californian at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Even the Score has won 3 of 16 on turf.

In a turf division that lacks a standout, the Whittingham might be the best chance for Even the Score to win a Grade 1.

Bullet move by House of Fortune

House of Fortune turned in a bullet workout Tuesday at Hollywood Park, apparently none the worse for the wear after an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. The 3-year-old filly worked in 47.20 seconds over a track that did not produce fast workout times.

The next local stakes for the 3-year-old filly division is the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks on June 12.

Elusive Diva, a winner of 3 of 5 starts, will stretch out to two turns for the Oaks after winning the seven-furlong Railbird. Trainer Mark Glatt said, "She blew a front shoe and still won the race."

* Met Mile probable Pico Central worked six furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 1:14.40, the fastest of five works at the distance. Pico Central won the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct in his most recent start.