12/01/2003 12:00AM

Luck swings Arterburn's way again

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ALBANY, Calif. - In 2000, trainer Lonnie Arterburn was on top of the world.

Remember Sheikh, the second-best horse in his barn, won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. His best horse, Rings a Chime, whom Arterburn purchased early that year for $400,000, won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland and followed up with a second-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.

But Rings a Chime suffered a career-ending injury in her next start, in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, and Remember Sheikh also suffered an injury that sent his career spiraling downward.

The next year, Arterburn decided to head east to Delaware, a decision that ended up hurting his career, as he lost both horses via the claim box, and some owners.

But things are turning around for Arterburn, who recorded the 1,200th training victory of his career Saturday when 2-year-old Lava Man, whom Arterburn bred and co-owns, scored a wire-to-wire maiden win at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Arterburn will be seeking his fifth victory of the Golden Gate Fields meeting when he saddles recently claimed Evil Lady in Wednesday's feature, a six-furlong $50,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

Attracted by her speed and her winning percentage, Arterburn claimed Evil Lady, a 4-year-old filly, for $32,000 for himself and Jeffrey Peppard from a win Nov. 13. The victory was Evil Lady's eighth in 15 starts.

Her speed and her love of winning could make her tough to beat despite the presence of the talented Gone to Party, who has two wins and a second in four starts, and two bullets among her four works since a Nov. 2 allowance victory.

"Things were stagnant for me for a while because none of my clients were buying horses," Arterburn said. "I've revamped my barn. I've had good horses, and in the future I want to upgrade. I've got a lifetime record I'll stand behind."

Arterburn has saddled 21 percent winners and 54 percent of his horses have finished in the top three. Arterburn's trainees have earned $15,525,858.

"The bottom line is you have to make money," he said. "That's my goal and why I'm trying to upgrade my stable."

Ema Bovary's streak continues

Ema Bovary, the best horse stabled in northern California, scored a neck victory over stakes winner Bear Fan in a Hollywood Park allowance race Saturday. It was her fifth straight victory, with the previous four having come in stakes at Golden Gate Fields and Emerald Downs.

Trainer Larry Ross must decide whether to point Ema Bovary, a 4-year-old Chilean-bred filly, for the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Monica at Santa Anita on Jan. 25 or the Grade 3, $100,000 First Lady at Gulfstream on Jan. 19. The Santa Monica is at seven furlongs and the First Lady at six. There are two other $100,000 sprints for fillies and mares at Gulfstream, should Ross decide to go there.

"That was part of the plan to test her," Ross said of the Hollywood Park race. "That's the best competition she's seen yet."

Ross said Ema Bovary's breeder flew up from Chile just to watch her race. Roberto Gonzalez went south to ride her, and he and Ema Bovary sat behind three rivals around the turn waiting for an opening.

"I almost made up my mind to go around, but I thought, 'I better sit here,' " Gonzalez said. "I didn't want to be five wide so I went inside. It was a tight hole and she was a little intimidated, but when I hit her, she went through. I kept busy because I knew the inside wasn't good, but she only had to run about a quarter-mile on the inside.

"It was a loose, cuppy track, and she's been running on firmer surfaces, but she handled it well. She may be the best filly I've ever ridden."

Injury puts Baze's lead at risk

With his fractured right collarbone likely to prevent him from riding the remainder of 2003, Russell Baze will find his Golden Gate Fields jockey lead challenged when he returns to action. The injury is expected to take four to six weeks to heal.

Baze currently leads Golden Gate Fields riders with 28 victories. David Lopez, who rode winners in the final two races Sunday, is second in the standings with 15 victories. Both of Lopez's victories Sunday came for trainer Armando Lage, one on a mount he picked up from Baze.

Chad Schvaneveldt, who had four victories Sunday, is third with 14 victories. Ron Warren Jr. has 13.

John F. Martin saddled three winners, all ridden by Schvaneveldt. Lage had two victories Sunday. A.L. Diaz, who is back training horses after suffering a stroke, saddled his first winner of the year.