08/11/2006 12:00AM

Magnum under radar in Classic

Jockey Alex Solis gets familiar with Magnum, who is rematched against Lava Man in the Pacific Classic.

DEL MAR, Calif. - In the build-up to the Hollywood Gold Cup last month, Magnum was seen as a major threat to division leader Lava Man. That threat ceased to exist after the eighth pole of the July 8 race.

After fighting for the early lead, and holding a one-length advantage on the backstretch, Magnum faded to finish fourth, 1 1/4 lengths behind Lava Man. It was the first time in five starts this year that Magnum had been worse than second.

The loss left trainer Darrell Vienna angered and ready for a rematch against Lava Man in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar next Sunday. This time, bettors may not see Magnum as much of a threat to Lava Man, the top older horse in California this year.

"I think he'll be 10- or 12-1," Vienna said of Magnum. "He'll be under the radar."

Owned by Herrick Racing, Magnum had an excellent spring. After winning an allowance race at Santa Anita in February, he finished second by three-quarters of a length to Lava Man in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 4, second to Buzzards Bay in the Oaklawn Handicap, and won the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas on May 29.

In the Hollywood Gold Cup, Vienna wanted jockey Patrick Valenzuela to stalk the pace. Instead, Magnum was on the lead.

"The Gold Cup was a fiasco," Vienna said. "Patrick had his own plan and it was different than mine."

Valenzuela, who finished second in the jockey standings at Hollywood Park, is not riding at Del Mar. He has been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons since late July.

In his absence, Magnum, 5, will be ridden by Alex Solis in the Pacific Classic, which is run at 1 1/4 miles.

In a projected field of nine, Preachinatthebar is the lone front-runner. Several probable starters have styles similar to Magnum - they are effective when racing from just off the pace.

"I'm hoping, and I'm fairly sure, we'll let him run his race instead of running at another horse," Vienna said.

The list of probable starters also includes Giacomo, Good Reward, Papi Chullo, Perfect Drift, Super Frolic, and Top This and That.

Pure as Gold possible for Pat O'Brien

Pure as Gold, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap here on July 30, is being strongly considered for the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap on the Pacific Classic undercard, trainer Jack Carava said.

After the Bing Crosby, Carava said Pure as Gold would be pointed for the Ancient Title BC Handicap at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 7, but now says the gelding has rebounded so well that there may be a change in plans.

"It surprised me how well he's come out of it," Carava said. "I expected him to be real tired."

Carava said that the nearly 10-week gap between the Bing Crosby and the Ancient Title may be too long, while the seven-week break between the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien and the Ancient Title would give Pure as Gold ample time to recover.

The Pat O'Brien is expected to draw the Grade 1 winners Declan's Moon and Siren Lure.

There are two major stakes for females next weekend - Friday's $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs and Saturday's $400,000 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo is expected to include Behaving Badly, Da Svedonya, Hello Lucky, and Somethinaboutlaura. Behaving Badly has won four stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita in January and the Grade 2 Genuine Risk BC Handicap last month at Belmont.

The Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks is expected to be led by recent stakes winners Attima, Charming N Lovable, and Foxysox.

Foxysox won three stakes at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park earlier this year. Charming N Lovable won her stakes debut in the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 2. Attima won her second stakes of the year in the San Clemente Handicap here on July 29.

Garcia slapped with $1,000 fine

Jockey Martin Garcia, who was second in the jockey standings through Thursday, has been fined $1,000 by Del Mar stewards for three offenses of breaking the skin of his mounts with his whip.

The fine is the latest sanction against Garcia, one of the nation's top apprentice jockeys. He has compiled 13 days of suspension at this meeting because of careless riding, but has been allowed to continue riding while he appeals them.

Garcia has won 18 races at this meeting, 11 behind leader Victor Espinoza.

Corey Nakatani is in third place with 17 wins. Nakatani is off his mounts until Sunday at the earliest after fighting a bacteria-related infection that has left him in the hospital, according to his agent, Tom Knust.

Nakatani was hospitalized Wednesday and has undergone tests to determine the cause of the illness, which led him to take off his mounts after the first race on Monday, Knust said.

Nakatani remained hospitalized on Friday, but Knust said he was hoping to be released soon.

Nakatani has been booked on one mount for Sunday's nine-race program, Great Hunter in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Stall applications for Hollywood

Hollywood Park is accepting auxiliary stall applications for the weeks leading to the fall meeting, which begins on Nov. 1, the first at that track that will be run on a synthetic surface.

Hollywood Park expects more horses than usual to be based at its track in September and October as horsemen prepare their horses for the fall meeting.

The synthetic surface will be installed later this month, and the track will open for training in early September, according to a statement released by the track on Thursday.