01/28/2003 12:00AM

Listen Indy, Crackup head to the sidelines

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Two promising 3-year-olds have been sidelined and are doubtful for upcoming 3-year-old Kentucky Derby prep races at Santa Anita. Graded stakes placed Listen Indy came out of his fourth-place allowance comeback on Friday with a sore shin. Crackup bled profusely finishing fourth Jan. 18 in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina.

A potential Derby candidate who had finished third in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes last fall, the Richard Mandella-trained Listen Indy was bet to 2-1 Friday in his first start of the season. Listen Indy failed to get involved, losing by 11 lengths.

"He X-rayed clean, but he's got a really sore shin," Mandella said, adding, "he'll be out for a while."

Crackup won the California Cup Juvenile and Great State Challenge Juvenile last year for trainer Rafael Becerra, earning $274,828 and winning 3 of 5 starts. Bet to 7-2 in the Santa Catalina, he lost by more than 10 lengths.

"He bled pretty good, so we'll have to back off," Becerra said. "We're not going to point for any races."

Becerra also said his 2-year-old California-bred filly Buttertart would be turned out for "a couple months" after finishing a troubled seventh in the Sunshine Millions Oaks on Saturday.

Another promising 3-year-old, Scrimshaw, also won't race for a little while. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has not chosen a specific direction for Scrimshaw, who finished a distant third as the 9-5 favorite in the Santa Catalina. "I'm going to go a little bit soft [in February], and look into March," Lukas said.

He said neither Scrimshaw nor Golden Gate Derby runner-up Ozzie Cat will run Feb. 7 in the Sham Stakes.

Southern Image shooting high

Southern Image will be the least experienced horse in the Grade 2, seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday, but as trainer Mike Machowsky said: "If he runs like he did, we'll be all right."

Will they ever. Southern Image won his Dec. 26 debut by three lengths, smoking 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.01 and earning a 96 Beyer while defeating Ministers Wild Cat, who returned to win by 7 1/2 lengths.

Machowsky could have shipped Florida-bred Southern Image to Gulfstream Park for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash last weekend, but said: "The goal is to develop a good horse. I don't want to ship him all over the place."

In the San Vicente, Southern Image will give away class and seasoning to likely favorite Kafwain, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Hollywood Futurity (disqualified to fourth). Others expected to run in the San Vicente are Runnin' on Nitro and Sum Trick.

Affluent to stretch out

Affluent came out of her comeback win Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in top shape, and will stretch out to two turns for her next start, according to trainer Ron McAnally. The question is, in which race?

The Grade 1 Santa Maria is run Feb. 16 and McAnally said, "That race comes up a little quick." If Affluent skips the Santa Maria, he said, she would be pointed for the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 9.

The McAnally-trained Piensa Sonando is expected to start Sunday in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap, while Rushin' to Altar was a maybe for the Grade 2 Strub on Saturday. "He ran ran down on his right front [finishing fourth in the San Fernando] and it's not healed yet," McAnally said.

Solar Echo, McAnally's impressive runner-up behind Point Clear in a productive maiden race Dec. 28, came down with a cough after her debut and only recently returned to serious training.

Easy Grades takes on Medaglia d'Oro

Medaglia d'Oro will be heavily favored in the Strub, his first start since a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. "If we're ever going to beat him, it will be now," said trainer Ted H. West, who will start Easy Grades in the $400,000 Strub.

Easy Grades finished second in his Jan. 4 allowance comeback, and West said, "I think he had a couple excuses."

That race was his first since throat surgery, and he raced over what West perceived as a dead rail. Runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby here last year, Easy Grades also "popped a quarter crack behind that might have bothered him a little bit," West added.

Easy Grades has trained well since the race, and will enter the Strub with a possible advantage in condition over Medaglia d'Oro. Others expected for the Strub include Olmodavor, Pass Rush, and Tracemark.

Headley: Give Kona Gold less weight

Kona Gold is 9 years old and clearly not the consistent, brilliant speedster he was three years ago when he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Nevertheless, Kona Gold was fine after a last-place finish Sunday in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap, leaving trainer Bruce Headley to wonder how much longer he can keep going while packing high weight every time he runs. Kona Gold carried 124 pounds Sunday, eight more than winner Avanzado. The loss by Kona Gold was his sixth loss in his last eight starts.

"He's past the twilight of his career," Headley said. "He's now in the moonlight of his career. For me to continue to run him, he needs to get down [in weight] where he can be competitive again. He pulled up good, but he's got age and weight working against him."

The Grade 1, seven-furlong San Carlos Handicap on March 1 is the next scheduled sprint stakes at Santa Anita.

Crafty C.T.'s a sprinter to watch

The sprint division has been thrown wide open, which means a fresh horse such as Crafty C.T. may be the horse to beat March 1 in the San Carlos Handicap.

Crafty C.T. blazed five furlongs in 59 seconds Tuesday, preparing for the San Carlos, which will be his first start since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Exercise rider Roxanne Losey hardly moved on Crafty C.T. during the 8 a.m. work, which trainer Howard Zucker timed .40 faster than the reported time.

Crafty C.T. looked terrific. "We'll have some fun with him this year," Zucker said.

A 5-year-old, he was freshened after the Breeders' Cup. "He didn't act like he needed it, but it was a good time and I don't see what he missed," Zucker said.

Crafty C.T. is owned by C.T. Grether, whose mare Madame Pietra won the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Saturday at Gulfstream. She was back in Zucker's Santa Anita barn by Sunday.

"We'll look for a graded stakes for her. We'll pick our spots," Zucker said.

* Front-runner Our New Recruit and late-runner Macward will attract most of the support Thursday in the seventh-race feature at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf. Nine entered the three-other-than/optional $100,000 claiming race. Other contenders include deep closer R. Baggio, dropper Lugny, and comebacker Top Honours.

* Truckle Feature worked seven furlongs Tuesday, and will stretch out to two turns Feb. 7 in the Sham.