08/17/2006 11:00PM

'Maxxi' gunning it from outside


DEL MAR, Calif. - Everything looks good for Maxxi Arte's stakes debut in Sunday's $85,000 Viejas Casino Handicap at Del Mar. Everything except the post position.

Maxxi Arte has drawn the outside in the one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, which is one of trainer Jim Cassidy's few concerns about his filly's chances in the race.

"I don't like the post," he said. "I don't want to be carried five wide in the first turn."

Owned by a partnership, Maxxi Arte has shown the ability to be close to the pace or on the lead, which should give jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. a simple plan at the start - get out quickly and save ground. "Norberto needs to get in," Cassidy said.

The Viejas Casino Handicap is something of a consolation for the 3-year-old fillies who were not ready for Saturday's $400,000 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf, or are better suited to a shorter distance.

The Viejas Handicap is the first of three stakes on Sunday's 10-race program, which begins at 1 p.m. and features the $1 million Pacific Classic. The program features a guaranteed pick six pool of $1 million. The pick six covers the fifth through 10th races.

Unlike the Del Mar Oaks, which featured eight stakes winners among its 11 entrants, only one of the nine fillies in the Viejas Handicap is a stakes winners - I Can See, who won the Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex Park last September.

Maxxi Arte has won 2 of 5 starts, with the wins coming in her last two starts. She was promoted from second to first via disqualification in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on June 17 and returned to win an optional claimer there July 14.

"She was very immature mentally and physically. That's why she's been so sporadic," Cassidy said. "When I bought her at 2, I wondered if I'd have to wait until she was 4 to start her."

The Viejas Handicap may end up with only eight starters. Trainer Doug O'Neill said he was "99 percent sure" that Meetmeinthewoods would start in Saturday's Del Mar Oaks instead of the Viejas Handicap. Conversely, Indy Miss, who is entered for the Del Mar Oaks, is more likely to start in the Viejas Handicap, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Tasha's Delight may improve off her fifth in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on July 29. Trainer Jeff Mullins said Tasha's Delight lost a shoe in the race.

Stormin Away a stakes winner

The Mullins-trained Stormin Away won his first stakes in Thursday's $89,305 Harry Brubaker Handicap, a restricted race over 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Stormin Away ($9.60) rallied on the inside in the final quarter-mile before pulling away to win by 2 1/2 lengths over We All Love Aleyna. New Export finished third in the field of six.

Stormin Away, 4, was second in the restricted Wickerr Handicap here July 29, overcoming trouble in early stretch to get within a half-length of race winner Becrux at the finish.

In the Brubaker, Garcia kept Stormin Away in fifth until the final turn before moving into contention.

"Since we've put Martin on the horse, he's changed," Mullins said of Stormin Away. "[Martin] fits the horse like you wouldn't believe."

With Garcia, Stormin Away has won 2 of 3 starts, the first of which was an allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 8. Garcia was aboard for the Wickerr Handicap.

Owned by Wendy and Joey Platts, Stormin Away has won 5 of 19 starts and $228,888. Mullins said that Stormin Away would stay in turf miles, but that he had no specific races in mind.

Jocks fined over whip violations

Jockeys Isaias Enriquez and Juan Ochoa have been fined by Del Mar stewards for causing breaks in the skin of their mounts with whips.

In fines issued on Thursday, Enriquez was fined $300 and Ochoa was fined $750 for incidents in late July and early August. Ochoa was cited for a third offense.

The penalties continue a trend in which the stewards have cracked down on whip violations. In recent weeks, Arroyo, Michael Baze, Tyler Baze, Garcia, and Martin Pedroza have been cited for similar infractions.

In addition, Garcia has amassed 20 days of suspensions at this meeting for four incidents of careless riding. According to his agent, Roger Olguin, Garcia has launched the appeal process for the most recent penalty, a seven-day infraction from the ninth race on Aug. 12. The suspension was supposed to begin Sunday, but Garcia is booked on six mounts on the 10-race program.

* Point Ashley, a promising 2-year-old filly trained by Bob Baffert, worked seven furlongs in 1:28.40 on Friday. Point Ashley is being pointed for the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 4, the last of six Grade 1 stakes at this meeting.