02/23/2005 1:00AM

Mandella's pair get ready for Big Cap

Rock Hard Ten and Gary Stevens (left) work seven furlongs in tandem with Congrats and Tyler Baze between races Wednesday at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Rock Hard Ten and Congrats, trainer Richard Mandella's two hopes for a third career win in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, had their final major workouts between races on Wednesday.

Taking advantage of the first day of dry weather since last week, Mandella watched the pair work seven furlongs in tandem over a wet-fast track. He later pronounced them ready for the richest race of the meeting.

Rock Hard Ten, the winner of the Strub Stakes on Feb. 5, was timed in 1:24.80. Ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, Rock Hard Ten started two lengths behind Congrats and finished a head behind. He drew alongside Congrats passing the quarter pole.

Congrats, the winner of the San Pasqual Handicap on Jan. 8 and the third-place finisher in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 6, was timed in 1:25.20. He was ridden by jockey Tyler Baze.

Mandella wanted the pair to finish evenly.

"I didn't want anybody in front," he said. "They're both shooting at the same goal. They couldn't have gone better. We let Rock Hard Ten get off a little behind him because of his style."

Along with most of the horses stable in Southern California, Rock Hard Ten and Congrats were reduced to galloping and jogging in recent days because of wet weather. The ensuing sloppy tracks had concerned Mandella.

"I've been worried for a week," he said. "The track is pretty good. They won't need much now. This will carry them quite a few days."

Bejarano to ride Grand Reward, Going Wild

Aside from Congrats and Rock Hard Ten, the Santa Anita Handicap's probable starters include Borrego, Grand Reward, Imperialism, Island Fashion, Saint Liam, and Truly a Judge. Lundy's Liability, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 6, is doubtful, according to trainer Bobby Frankel.

Saint Liam, the winner of the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5, is the lone invader.

Supah Blitz, who won the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap in September and was fifth in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan. 29, is not definite. He may be sent to the $6 million Dubai World Cup in the Middle East on March 26, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Grand Reward will be a longshot. The winner of an allowance race on Feb. 12, Grand Reward is trained by D. Wayne Lukas for Bob and Beverly Lewis. The 4-year-old colt is by Storm Cat out of the champion mare Serena's Song, who finished seventh in the 1996 Big Cap for the same connections.

Lukas said Wednesday that Rafael Bejarano has been booked to ride Grand Reward in the Big Cap and Going Wild in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes for 3-year-olds on the same day.

Bejarano, currently the leading rider at Aqueduct, replaces Victor Espinoza on Going Wild. Espinoza will ride Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, who is making his 3-year-old debut in the Santa Catalina.

Lukas said Bejarano's presence on the two colts is not necessarily a long-term arrangement.

"It's a date, we're not getting married," Lukas said. "We're hoping he'll stay in the camp. We're trying to get some top riders on our best horses."

Going Wild won the Sham Stakes on Feb. 5, his third consecutive win. Lukas said Grand Reward and Going Wild have not had their training hampered by the wet weather.

"We're in a little better shape in that we have recent races for our runners," he said.

Singletary on schedule for Kilroe Mile

The Big Cap program features four stakes, including the $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf and the $100,000 Baldwin Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds.

Singletary, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park in October, remains on schedule for the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile, trainer Don Chatlos said.

"I was lucky to get a work into him last Tuesday," Chatlos said, referring to a six-furlong workout in 1:11.20 on Feb. 15. "I wouldn't say he's 100 percent ready with the way things are going.

"I've been lucky," he said. "He hasn't missed too many days. I definitely would have worked him back on Monday. He will have to miss a work, but I'm not as backed up as some guys."

The probable starters include A to the Z, Buckland Manor, Just Wonder, Laura's Lucky boy, Leroidesanimaux, and Sweet Return.

Frankel said Wednesday that plans for Leroidesanimaux are not certain because of a disrupted training pattern. Leroidesanimaux has won his last five starts, the most recent of which was the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park on Nov. 27.

Sweet Return is the defending champion in the Kilroe, but has not started since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 9. He emerged from the race with a bruised foot. Sweet Return worked seven furlongs on turf on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17.

"We were very lucky last week," trainer Ron McAnally said, referring to the recent workout. "We were able to work seven-eighths and he got tired. He's pretty fit."

Cajun Beat likely favorite in San Carlos

Frankel is expected to have the favorite in Saturday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap in Cajun Beat, the winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Unraced since November, Cajun Beat will carry high weight of 124 pounds in the seven-furlong San Carlos against Harvard Avenue, Hasty Kris, Perfect Moon, and With Distinction.

Total Impact turned out by de Seroux

The Santa Anita Handicap will not include Total Impact, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup last July.

Trainer Laura de Seroux said that Total Impact has been turned out following two losses at the meeting - a second in the San Pasqual Handicap on Jan. 8 and a fifth in the San Antonio Handicap. On Nov. 28, he was fourth in the $2.4 million Japan Cup Dirt in Tokyo.

"The Japan trip took more out of him than I realized," de Seroux said. "I'll give him a freshening. I'll have him back at Hollywood. I know he loves that track."

* Jockey Martin Pedroza has been suspended for three days for causing interference in the sixth race on Monday. Pedroza's mount, Too Much to Love, finished first, but was disqualified and placed fourth for crossing over in front of a rival in the stretch. The suspension begins Friday and continues through Sunday.

* Horse owner Eldon Lawson, the father of jockey agent Derek Lawson, died Sunday at his home in Pasadena. Eldon Lawson was 86. He had horses with O'Neill and Armando Lage in northern California. A funeral is scheduled for Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Forest Lawn in Glendale, Calif.