01/19/2007 1:00AM

Minor surgery idles Down


ARCADIA, Calif. - The good 3-year-old filly Down, a troubled third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in just her second career start, is out of the Santa Anita Oaks and Kentucky Oaks.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said Down was scheduled for minor surgery Friday to remove a flake from an ankle. He expects her to resume training by the end of March.

"She'll be out six weeks, and back running by the middle of May," Frankel said.

Down finished second by a nose in her debut sprinting Oct. 22 at Belmont, then stretched out to two turns Dec. 17 for the Hollywood Starlet and finished 1 1/2 lengths back while possibly best. Down broke dead last in the 1 1/16-mile race, circled eight wide into the stretch, and finished fastest of all.

Owned by Michael Bello, Down had three works at Hollywood Park following the Starlet when Frankel discovered heat in an ankle.

"She was 100 percent sound, but she had a little filling," he said.

Frankel said that Down, a gray daughter of Mr. Greeley, would have an East Coast campaign later this year.

Flores dominates early stakes

The four-month Santa Anita winter-spring meeting is less than a month old and jockey David Flores is already on pace to break the record for most stakes wins at the meeting.

Through Friday, Flores has won six stakes in the first four weeks of the meeting. He still has plenty to accomplish to better the mark of 19 shared by Laffit Pincay Jr. (1982-83) and Corey Nakatani (1996-97), but Flores could add to his total before the end of January. The meeting runs through April 22.

Sunday, Flores rides Notable Guest in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes for Frankel. On the Sunshine Millions program at Santa Anita on Saturday, Flores is booked to ride Mistical Plan in the $250,000 Oaks and Purrfectly Fitting in the $500,000 Distaff. On Jan. 28, he rides leading contender Indian Flare in the $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap.

Flores, 38, said that "more experience and more good horses" have made a difference this year, and said he is over an arm injury that plagued his 2005 season.

He said a renewed exercise program has allowed him to maintain a riding weight of about 116 pounds, with less time spent in the sweat box.

Overall, Flores ranks third in the standings at the meeting through Thursday, chasing Garrett Gomez and Victor Espinoza. Flores's success is a turnaround from his 2005-06 meeting here when he won three stakes and failed to finish in the top 10 in the jockey standings.

An alliance with Frankel has greatly helped Flores, providing him with four of his stakes wins at this meeting. Flores spends a few mornings a week at Frankel's Hollywood Park barn, working horses.

"He's always been a good rider," Frankel said. "It's a matter of really wanting it. He's working in the morning and paying attention. When he comes to the paddock, he's done his homework."

While well-known in California, Flores wants national recognition in the form of Triple Crown success.

"That's my goal this year," he said.

Get Funky on the fence

Get Funky is bound for a Sunshine Millions race on Saturday, but trainer John Sadler is undecided on whether to stay home for the $500,000 Turf or send the 4-year-old to Gulfstream Park for the $1 million Classic on the main track.

"I want to see the pre-entries and look at both races," Sadler said. "He broke his maiden on turf, but has trained sensationally on the dirt."

A decision must be made by Sunday, when entries are taken for the eight Sunshine Millions races.

Get Funky is best known for his 6-1 upset in the Del Mar Derby last September, the only stakes win of his seven-race career.

A former maiden claimer, Get Funky has started once since the Del Mar Derby, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes here on Dec. 26. He fought for the lead in the stretch but faded to finish three lengths behind Kip Deville.

Get Funky missed the major turf races for 3-year-olds in the fall to undergo surgery to correct an entrapped epiglottis.

With the win in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on his record, Get Funky is assured a spot in either Sunshine Million race. Horses that have won or placed in graded stakes have preference in the event of an oversubscribed race.

While Get Funky is best known for success on turf, the colt did win a maiden race for $62,500 claimers on a wet-fast track at Santa Anita last April, his last start on the main track.

"The only reason he went to the turf was because of the calendar," Sadler said.

The stakes calendar for 3-year-olds in California in the second half of the year is heavily tilted toward turf racing.

The $500,000 Turf, run over 1 1/8 miles for California-breds and Florida-breds, is led by Lava Man, a winner of four Grade 1 races in 2006. The Sunshine Millions will be Lava Man's first start since a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Other probable starters are Railroad, Revved Up, Sherwood Park, Super Strut, and Wild Buddy.

Stormello's 2007 debut still uncertain

Hollywood Futurity winner Stormello remains on target for his first start of 2007, but owner-trainer Bill Currin is playing it close to the vest on when and where that race may be. Stormello worked six furlongs, breezing, Friday morning at Hollywood Park, after which Currin said all options are open for the colt's 3-year-old debut.

"My main goal is the slowest and easiest way to get to the Kentucky Derby," Currin said. "He's done enough already. I could train him into the Derby. He's that fit."

Stormello was timed Friday in 1:13.40, breezing, under exercise rider Alain Vidal. "He went 12's all the way, by himself, in hand," Currin said.

Stormello won 3 of 7 last year, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity and Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen