03/16/2005 1:00AM

Lucky J.H. assures hot pace

Email
Horsephotos
A good effort by Don't Get Mad (above) in Saturday's San Felipe would give owner Wayne Hughes two 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The fractions in the Grade 2 San Felipe on Saturday just got a whole lot quicker. The improving front-runner Lucky J.H. will tackle many of the circuit's best 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, his first start against open company. The presence of Lucky J.H. assures company for Roman Ruler, and virtually guarantees that the San Felipe will unfold at a legitimate pace.

Lucky J.H. has won 3 of 6, including a fast-pace win on Feb. 17 in which he pressed a 45.84-second half-mile and earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We have some confidence in our horse, we think he's an improving horse," trainer Carla Gaines said Wednesday. "It's ambitious, but you might as well try - [the division] is a toss-up right now. He's steadily improving and we think there's more there."

Owned by breeder John Harris, Lucky J.H. is bred to improve with distance and age. He was sired by Cee's Tizzy, and produced by an A.P. Indy mare. While the San Felipe will be his first start against open company, Lucky J.H.'s form was flattered last Saturday when Uncle Denny won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.

Lucky J.H. has faced Uncle Denny twice - beating him in an allowance sprint on Nov. 13, then finishing third behind him in a sprint stakes on Dec. 26.

At least seven are expected for the San Felipe, and Gaines said she has monitored weekend weather forecasts that call for the chance of rain.

"Who likes the off going?" she asked, rhetorically. "I know that mine does."

Lucky J.H. won his last start on a wet-fast track.

The San Felipe field, with riders, is expected to include Consolidator, Rafael Bejarano; Don't Get Mad, Tyler Baze; Giacomo, Mike Smith; Golden Shine, Rene Douglas; Lucky J.H., Jon Court; Roman Ruler, Gary Stevens; and Wilko, Corey Nakatani.

Greeley's Galaxy to Blue Grass

Owner Wayne Hughes will learn Saturday if Don't Get Mad is a Derby contender. If so, that would make two Hughes runners on the Derby trail. A four-length allowance win on March 10 by the Warren Stute-trained Greeley's Galaxy earned a 94 Beyer Figure, and punched his ticket for the Blue Grass Stakes on April 16 at Keeneland.

"He might be a nice horse," said Warren Stute's son and assistant trainer, Glen Stute. "We're hoping for the best, and it would be great for my dad."

Warren Stute is 83.

Greeley's Galaxy, sired by Mr. Greeley, won a sloppy-track maiden sprint before his two-turn allowance win. The slow pace of the route flattered Greeley's Galaxy - he pressed a half-mile in 48.36 and six furlongs in 1:12.58 before winning in 1:43.35. The beaten favorite in the race was 8-5 Ulistnintome, who finished third. Trainer Richard Mandella said Ulistnintome bled, and would be out until Hollywood Park.

'Chattahoochee' tops turf stakes

The San Felipe is not the only good 3-year-old race on Saturday's card. A strong field of 3-year-old turf specialists will race a mile on grass in the $75,000 Pasadena Stakes, in which Chattahoochee War is expected to start favored.

Chattahoochee War has won 2 of 3, including a half-length win Jan. 15 in the Hill Rise Stakes. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Chattahoochee War is owned by John Amerman, whose Golden Shine will be among the favorites in the San Felipe.

The field for the Pasadena is expected to also include Chinese Dragon, Eastern Sand, Littlebitofzip, Moth Ball, Stedfast McStaunch, and Sunny Sky.

Frankel takes two shots at Santa Ana

Although his Grade 1 winner Intercontinental will skip the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap, for which she was assigned high weight of 123-pounds, trainer Bobby Frankel will be strongly represented Saturday in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Frankel said Intercontinental is aiming for the Grade 3 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 17, leaving Megahertz as the 122-pound highweight; the Frankel-trained Barancella was assigned 116.

The Santa Ana marks the resumption of turf racing for fillies and mares; the last three graded turf stakes in Southern California were moved to dirt because of rain. Megahertz has not started since Dec. 4 when she ran third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup; Barancella runs for the first time since Oct. 16 when she was second in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

"I don't know that they are at their very best, but the others haven't been running either," Frankel said.

While Megahertz enters as the class of the field with 10 wins and earnings of $1.4 million, Frankel said Barancella is "a pretty good filly." An import from France, she finished second in back-to-back Grade 1's last year against 3-year-olds and has won 1 of 6. Alex Solis rides Megahertz, and Pat Valenzuela rides Barancella.

The field for the Santa Ana also will include Moscow Burning, 120; Hoh Buzzard, Katdogawn, and Valentine Dancer, 117; Ask for the Moon, 116; and Stupendous Miss, 113.

* Frankel will double-team a Grade 2 for marathon runners next weekend. He plans to start Epicentre and new shooter Kurm in the San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf. He said License to Run, winner of the off-the-turf San Luis Obispo Handicap on Feb. 19, came out of the race with filling in an ankle that interrupted his training.

* Jockey Mike Smith will join Gary Stevens in Kentucky this spring. Both jockeys will ride the Keeneland spring meet that runs from April 8-29.

* The Santa Anita board of stewards stayed a 30-day suspension of trainer Vladimir Cerin, whose Church Editor was disqualified from a second-place finish in a race at Golden Gate last March after testing positive for morphine. Cerin was fined $2,500. In its ruling, the stewards said Cerin's stay is "provided subject does not have any Class I or II violations for the remainder of the year."