01/01/2009 12:00AM

Lovely Isle eyes Sunshine Millions


ARCADIA, Calif. - Loaded with sprinting females, trainer Bobby Frankel's stable will have leading contenders in lucrative stakes from coast-to-coast later this month.

Lovely Isle, the winner of Wednesday's $76,400 Kalookan Queen Handicap at Santa Anita, is bound for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24.

Ventura, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 24, is scheduled to start in the $300,000 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 31.

Lovely Isle ($15.40) closed from fourth in a field of seven to win the Kalookan Queen by 1 1/4 lengths over High Resolve. Baroness Thatcher finished third. Dearest Trickski, the 6-5 favorite, was sixth, fading through the final furlong after fighting with High Resolve for the early lead.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Lovely Isle ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.31. Espinoza said that Lovely Isle was well within herself early in the race.

"With all that speed in the race, it set up well for us, but my filly is quick out of the gate herself," Espinoza said. "I wanted to let her do her own thing and not ask her to do something she didn't want to do. I just let her run at the end."

Owned by Michael Bello, Lovely Isle has won 5 of 12 starts and $238,376. The Kalookan Queen was her first stakes win. She was second in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes here last February in her first start for Frankel.

Thursday, Frankel described Ventura's condition as "excellent." She worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Tuesday, her fifth recorded workout since late November.

Vacare definitely retired

Vacare, the millionaire mare, was not entered in Sunday's $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap and has been retired. The winner of the Grade 2 Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park last month, Vacare was being considered for a final start in the San Gorgonio as late as Thursday morning, when entries were taken.

"We decided to retire the mare," trainer Christophe Clement said from Florida. Clement said Vacare will begin quarantine in coming days and will be sent to England to be bred to Pivotal.

Vacare finishes her career with 8 wins in 14 starts and earnings of $1,213,706.

Without Vacare, the San Gorgonio lacks a standout, though the Frankel-trained Valbenny will be well-supported to end an eight-race losing streak.

The San Gorgonio has drawn a field of eight. At least two of them, High Heel Sneakers and Marzelline, are nearing the end of their careers and could be bred in coming months.

Trained by Ben Cecil, High Heel Sneakers and Marzelline are European imports who were minor stakes winners on this circuit last year - High Heel Sneakers won the Hermosa Beach Handicap at Hollywood Park in November, while Marzelline won the CTT and TOC Handicap at Del Mar in August.

"We haven't decided if Marzelline will run on this year," Cecil said. He said High Heel Sneakers has been booked to Mr. Greeley.

Both mares are seeking their first graded stakes win in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio. Cecil fears the distance of 1 1/8 miles may be too short for the pair, who are better suited to races at 1 1/4 miles on turf or farther.

"The distance is a little short for High Heel Sneakers," Cecil said. "I think it better suits Marzelline. They have a chance to get graded-stakes black type. That's the goal. That's why they came over here."

High hopes for Papa Clem

Owner Bo Hirsch named Papa Clem for his late father, Clement. Two things about that. Hirsch must have thought the colt, a son of Smart Strike, would turn out to be a good one. And Papa Clem is probably not for sale.

Plenty of suitors came calling after Papa Clem defeated maidens in one of the last 2-year-old maiden races of 2008 on Monday, but, according to trainer Gary Stute, Hirsch is not interested in selling.

"He doesn't need any partners. And I don't think he needs the money, either," Stute said.

What Hirsch wants is a colt who could take him to major stakes, like the kind his father, an owner, used to run in going back to the days of Figonero and Snow Sporting 40 years ago. Papa Clem is out of the Grade 1-winning mare Miss Houdini, whose dam, Magical Maiden, also was a Grade 1 winner.

"This is the best-bred horse I've ever had," said Stute, the good-natured son of popular veteran trainer Mel Stute.

Papa Clem was making his third start on Monday, but it was his first race around two turns following a pair of sprints at Hollywood Park.

"I told the owner first time out I thought he'd have a shot, but that he really wanted to go long," Stute said. "He broke well, then he stumbled, and got dirt in his face. I liked his race the other day. He got away with an easy pace, but he came home fast. I thought he'd do best when he went long. Thank God I was right for once."

Stute said a stakes race or a first-level allowance will be next for Papa Clem as he takes the next step toward determining if he is Kentucky Derby material.

"The stake," Stute said, referring to the Grade 3, $100,000 San Rafael Stakes on Jan. 17, "would be coming back quickly. I'm sure we'll nominate, but I don't know if we'll run. If not that, we'll try to find an allowance race."

Well Armed tunes up for San Pasqual

Well Armed, one of the top handicap horses in California in the second half of 2008, worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 at Santa Anita on Thursday.

Trained by Eoin Harty for WinStar Farms, Well Armed has not started since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Prior to that, Well Armed won the San Diego Handicap in July and the Goodwood Stakes in September and was second in the $1 million Pacific Classic in August.

Well Armed, 6, is a candidate for the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 10.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman