08/16/2002 12:00AM

Longshots bring Classic field to 11

Email

DEL MAR, Calif. - Three longshots, Pleasantly Perfect, Oh Take, and Speedy Pick, have joined the list of probables for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 25.

They will be part of an outstanding field, led by War Emblem, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes; Came Home, a five-time stakes winner this year; Milwaukee Brew, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap; and Sky Jack, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup.

If those four start, along with supporting players Arbiter, Bonus Pack, Grey Memo, and Momentum, the Pacific Classic could have a record field size of 11. The race has drawn nine runners twice - in 1994 and 1998.

The three longshots face a difficult assignment. Pleasantly Perfect and Speedy Pick have never won stakes, and Oh Take only arrived from Argentina earlier this month.

The 4-year-old Oh Take has won 3 of 11 starts, including the Group 1 Estrellas Classic in Argentina on June 29.

"He's been out of quarantine for a week and breezed once," said his trainer, Ron McAnally.

Typically, South American-based horses are given several months to acclimate to North America before they resume racing, but McAnally said owner Nelson Bunker Hunt would like to take a chance in the Pacific Classic.

Pleasantly Perfect has never started in a stakes. A 4-year-old trained by Richard Mandella, Pleasantly Perfect won an optional claimer by 3 1/2 lengths on Aug. 4, a performance that convinced Mandella to try the Pacific Classic.

"He's never going to be any better than he is now," Mandella said. "If he fits, there's some neat stuff coming up. If not, you go back and hope someday that he fits."

Pleasantly Perfect is a closer who will be ridden by Alex Solis.

Speedy Pick was third in the Group 2 San Luis Rey Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita in March. In four subsequent starts, his only win came in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on July 20.

War Emblem will go favored. Trained by Bob Baffert, War Emblem won the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 4, his first start since losing a bid for the Triple Crown with an eighth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

On Friday at Hollywood Park, Came Home worked six furlongs in 1:11.40. A 3-year-old, Came Home won the Swaps Stakes on July 14 in his most recent starts. Mike Smith will ride Came Home.

Trainer loosens purse strings

Trainer Danny Velasquez claimed two runners on Thursday who may run in stakes at next month's Fairplex Park meeting.

On behalf of Iwin Racing, Velasquez claimed seventh race winner Pie n Burger for $100,000. The price tied the record claiming price at this meeting, reached on six previous occasions.

Pie n Burger will be pointed to the $100,000 Ralph Hinds Pomona Invitational on Sept. 29, when he will attempt to win his first stakes.

A 4-year-old, Pie n Burger fought off the challenges of Truly a Judge and Bring Home Thegold on Thursday to win an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles by a half-length.

"The horse ran a big race," Velasquez said. "I was happy to see that. I've been watching him lately. The owner made the final decision."

Earlier, Velasquez had claimed Pickled Bay for $50,000 on behalf of John Pinner. Pickled Bay finished fifth in a one-mile turf race after dueling for the lead in midstretch. Pickled Bay has won twice in his nine-race career, both sprints for claimers. He will be pointed to the $50,000 Foothill Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 13, the first day of the Fairplex Park meeting, Velasquez said.

Claiming price mixup

Unchain the Stars, the winner of the ninth race on Aug. 11, for maiden claimers, has been disqualified and had her purse earnings taken away after racing officials realized she was not eligible to start for the claiming price for which she was entered.

The 4-year-old Unchain the Stars, trained by Rafael Becerra, was entered for $28,000, but had been claimed for $25,000 on July 19 at Hollywood Park. Because 25 days had not elapsed since the claim, Unchain the Stars had to be entered for a claiming price 25 percent higher than the price for which she was claimed.

The Aug. 11 race was for $28,000 to $32,000 claimers. If Unchain the Stars had been entered for $32,000, she would have been eligible.

The $22,000 purse has been redistributed, with runner-up Sports Biz credited with the win and losing her maiden status. Unchain the Stars retains her maiden status.

The ruling affects the top of the trainers' standings. Bob Baffert trains Sports Biz, and through Thursday he was tied with Bill Spawr with 12 wins.

Workmen's comp bill to governor

A bill that allows racing officials to divert monies from existing sources to offset workmen's compensation premiums will reach the desk of Gov. Gray Davis in coming days. Earlier this week, the bill passed the state Senate.

The bill will allow money from the Stabling and Vanning Fund and California Marketing Committee to be used to help pay premiums. Trainers have faced higher insurance rates this year after a private company left the marketplace in February, leaving trainers to buy policies from the government-backed State Fund.

A new plan that would create a self-insurance policy owned by owners and trainers is expected to go into place by Sept. 1 or Oct. 1.

Racing officials do not expect opposition to the bill from the governor.

* Icecoldbeeratreds, the winner of the Graduation Stakes for 2-year-old California-breds on Aug. 1, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Friday. He is a candidate for Wednesday's $150,000 Best Pal Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs.