11/26/2004 12:00AM

A listless Noches de Rosa retired

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Noches de Rosa, the winner of major stakes in Chile and California, has been retired after a series of disappointing races in recent months.

Thursday at Hollywood Park, Noches de Rosa finished fifth in the Hermosa Beach Handicap, the third consecutive stakes in which she failed to finish in the top three. She was last of 11 in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in August and seventh in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita last month.

"She seems to have lost interest on me," trainer Richard Mandella said.

Owned by Gerald Ford's Diamond A Racing, Noches de Rosa won 7 of 27 starts and $546,073. In Chile, where she was bred, Noches de Rosa's career was highlighted by a victory in the Grade 1 Chilean Oaks over about 1 1/2 miles on turf in December 2001.

In 16 starts in the United States for Mandella, Noches de Rosa had three wins, all in stakes. She won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap and the Reloy Handicap at Santa Anita in early 2003 and the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park earlier this year. She also placed in four graded stakes, including a third in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park last June.

Mandella was at a loss to explain Noches de Rosa's disappointing recent form. Noches de Rosa is scheduled to be bred this winter, and Mandella joked that the trip to Kentucky was on the mind of the 6-year-old mare.

"She's got a date with Dixie Union and maybe that's all she can think about," Mandella said.

Many options for Uraib

Uraib, the upset winner of Thursday's $65,110 Hermosa Beach Handicap, has shown the versatility to win at between 1 1/16 and 1 1/2 miles. That should give owners Ron Charles and Clear Valley Stable and trainer Sandy Shulman plenty of opportunities for the 4-year-old Uraib in coming months.

In the Hermosa Beach over 1 1/2 miles on turf, Uraib rallied from last on the final turn, engaged even-money favorite Nadeszhda in early stretch, and won by 1 1/2 lengths. She paid $21.60.

The win marked Uraib's second stakes win of the fall; she won the Hillsborough Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Bay Meadows in September. In between, she finished fifth in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita.

Shulman said Uraib must race from behind horses to be effective.

"She has to be covered up early, like the Europeans do, and then just let her go at the three-eighths pole or quarter pole," he said. "She'll put in a big run."

Slew of firsters complicate pick six

Hollywood Park is guaranteeing that the pick six pool will reach $1 million on Sunday's 10-race program.

The pick six covers the final six races of the program, which includes an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on turf, a sprint for 2-year-old maidens, the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes, a route for $25,000 claimers, the $500,000 Hollywood Derby, and a maiden claimer for California-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Perhaps the most puzzling race is the sixth race, run over six furlongs for 2-year-old maidens. The field of 10 includes eight first-time starters, three of them sold for $500,000 or more - One Smart Deputy, Spirited Way, and Seattle Buddy.

One Smart Deputy was purchased for $700,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year. A Silver Deputy colt, One Smart Deputy is trained by Bob Baffert, who also starts Anxiously Awaiting, a colt by More than Ready who was purchased for $155,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Because of the six-furlong distance of Sunday's race, Baffert said that Anxiously Awaiting has a better chance to win.

"They are two different types of horses," he said. "The Silver Deputy will be more of a distance horse. The other horse is quicker. He's probably the more precocious of the two."

Spirited Way was purchased for $500,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. Owned by Paula Capestro, Gary Seidler, and Peter Vegso and trained by Neil Drysdale, Spirited Way is by Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner.

Spirited Way has worked well in recent weeks, including three furlongs in 35.60 seconds on Thursday, the fastest of 11 recorded works at the distance.

Drysdale cautions that Spirited Way may need the experience of Sunday's race.

"He might need a run, but he acts like he has talent," he said.

Seattle Buddy was purchased for $550,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. Owned by Stan Fulton and trained by Eoin Harty, he has a series of fast works at Santa Anita over the last two months.

"We've been pleased with what he's done so far," Harty said. "He looks like a runner. He's a big, strapping, good-looking horse."

The other first-time starters are Nodoubletouch (trained by Bill Currin), Myangeljoey (David Hofmans), and Cat a Cold Eye and Successful Seeking (both trained by Paddy Gallagher).

The two horses that have started are Primitive Man, who was fourth in a maiden race here on Nov. 13, and I'magambler, who was second by a nose in a maiden claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 19.

Another horse breaks down

The rash of breakdowns continues at Hollywood Park. In Friday's second race, Eyes Like Fire, a $12,500 claimer, was pulled up in the final sixteenth with an injured left front suspensory.

There were three fatal breakdowns from Nov. 18-21 - Silver Miracle from a maiden claimer on Nov. 18, Sparkling Ava in an allowance race on Nov. 21, and Toofastforyou from an $18,000 claimer on Nov. 21.