01/12/2004 12:00AM

Mandella delays star's return


ARCADIA, Calif. - The 3-year-old debut of Action This Day, the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, has been postponed from Saturday's $150,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita to the $75,000 Sham Stakes on Feb. 7, at the earliest.

Trainer Richard Mandella on Sunday said that he was not satisfied with the way Action This Day had performed in recent workouts. Sunday, Action This Day worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, which tied for the 10th fastest of 74 recorded works at the distance.

"The works didn't come together the way I hoped," Mandella said. "I don't feel like I had him quite up to it. If I go to the Sham I can give him more time.

"You set things the way you hope they'll go. Sometimes they're a week early, sometimes a week later. He's a week later."

Action This Day is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding 2-year-old of 2003. Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Action This Day has won 2 of 3 starts and $817,200. After finishing second in a maiden race at Del Mar, he won by a nose against maidens on Sept. 28 and pulled a 26-1 upset in the BC Juvenile at Santa Anita.

The Santa Catalina is run at 1 1/16 miles and is the first two-turn stakes for 3-year-olds of the Santa Anita meeting. The Sham Stakes is run at 1 1/8 miles.

Launching Action This Day's 3-year-old campaign at 1 1/8 miles is not a concern to Mandella, who thinks Action This Day wants to run long.

"I don't think that's a problem with this guy," he said. "The main thing is to get a good start. I don't want to start wrong."

Revised lineup for Santa Catalina

The Santa Catalina probables include the runners-up in two important stakes - Master David, who was second in Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 29, and St Averil, second in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20.

Master David will be making his first start for trainer Bobby Frankel. He was previously trained in England by Brian Meehan. The Remsen Stakes was Master David's first start on dirt.

Other expected starters are Perfect Moon, Preachinathebar, That's an Outrage, and Twice as Bad.

The Santa Catalina Stakes is one of four stakes on a weekend that includes a Monday program with two major races.

Sunday's top race is the $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Island Fashion, the winner of the La Brea Stakes on Dec. 27, will try for her fifth stakes win in a small field that will include Hope Rises, Sea Jewel, and Victory Encounter.

Monday's $150,000 San Marcos Stakes features a rematch of the first two finishers of the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30 - Sweet Return and Fairly Ransom. Both are 4-year-olds trained by Ron McAnally and will be making their first start in a stakes against older horses. Run at 1 1/4 miles on turf, the San Marcos field will also include Puerto Banus, Runaway Dancer, and Sharbayan.

The $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Monday will have a larger field. House of Fortune and Silent Sighs, one-two in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 8, return and face Bending Strings, Church Editor, Papa to Kinzie, Rahy Dolly, Uppity Kitty, and Whoopi Cat.

Backstretch security issues

A committee of horsemen and racing officials continue to meet to discuss ways to enhance backstretch security. The committee's work has led to implementation of such low-cost measures as increased backstretch foot patrols by investigators and enforcement of rules that have not been closely followed in recent years.

The committee met at Santa Anita last Saturday, the second time it has convened since late December. A third meeting is scheduled for Feb. 7.

The group was formed last month to seek ways to combat any perception of cheating on the backstretch.

Some proposals put forth in late December are stalled because the California Horse Racing Board cannot pass new regulations for a six-month period, while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reviews the state's regulatory systems, according to CHRB commissioner Roger Licht.

Schwarzenegger wants to reduce excessive regulation and other barriers that are hindering businesses from starting or staying in the state, Licht said.

The issues discussed at Saturday's meeting covered a wide range, and included the testing of syringes used for the administration of Lasix by private veterinarians.

The testing of syringes would require a CHRB rule. The preliminary stages of the rule-making process, such as the language and a public commentary period, could proceed during Schwarzenegger's review period.

One minor rule being enforced is ensuring that horses racing on a given day have warnings signs adjacent to their stalls prohibiting unauthorized contact.

Mike Kilpack, senior investigator for the CHRB, said patrols by board investigators have been increased on a daily basis in the barn area.

One aspect of stable area security is no longer being implemented. Horses entered for graded stakes no longer have security staff present near their stalls on racedays. The reasons are cost and the lack of training for security personnel from outside firms, according to a Santa Anita official

The idea of redirecting money from stakes or increasing stakes nomination fees to finance security for surveillance of graded stakes runners was discussed, but no action was taken.

Cassidy installs security cameras

Saturday, the committee did not discuss the possible installation of security cameras in shed rows, an issue brought up in late December.

One trainer at Santa Anita has done it on his own.

Jim Cassidy, who trains 37 horses, has installed a four-camera system in his stable. The project, completed at a cost of $250, provides a closed circuit view of two angles of the shed row, an equipment room, and the toe ring. Cassidy can oversee the cameras from his stable office.

Cassidy said the cameras were installed in November as a precaution.

"It's not a total comfort level," he said. "You'd have to get them in each individual stall if you want a complete line on things.

"We haven't had any problems, but no one should be in the barn that doesn't belong here."

Two options for Southern Image

Southern Image, the upset winner of the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, is being pointed for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds on Jan. 24, trainer Mike Machowsky said.

Southern Image is also being considered for the $300,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds on Feb. 7, Machowsky said.

Southern Image is a Florida-bred who has won 3 of 4 starts and $231,600.

P. Val back in action full-time

Patrick Valenzuela, who won riding titles at all five of the major meetings in Southern California in 2003, rode his first full day of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting on Sunday.

Valenzuela had only seven mounts in the first two weeks of the meeting while serving 13 days of suspension for riding infractions from 2003. He was allowed to ride some major stakes that are exempt from suspension.

During that span, Valenzuela never had more than one mount on a day. Sunday, Valenzuela had one win from seven mounts, scoring on Cyber Slew in the fifth race.

"I'm tired," he said after his last mount Sunday. "It's not like I've been riding seven or eight a day. I had a good day."

Through Sunday, Alex Solis led all riders at the meet with 18 wins.

* Pleasantly Perfect, the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.60 on Sunday. Mandella said Pleasantly Perfect is on target to make his 2004 debut in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap on Jan. 31.