01/14/2005 1:00AM

Miss Loren drops and scores

Benoit & Associates
Rene Douglas, 37, celebrates his 3,000th win, on Grey Misty in Thursday's fifth race.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Odds-on favorite Miss Loren responded to a drop in class Friday at Santa Anita, rolling to an easy win in the $85,300 Paseana Handicap. With the victory, Miss Loren, dropping off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap, flatters A.P. Adventure, the Bayakoa third-place finisher who runs Sunday in the El Encino Stakes.

Trainer Luis Seglin said Miss Loren will return Feb. 13 in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap. "This was a helluva prep race; she's a great mare, and I hope next month she proves it again."

The win was the 12th in 44 starts for Miss Loren, a 7-year-old import from Argentina whose biggest win was a 34-1 upset last summer at Del Mar in the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap.

Jose Valdivia rode Miss Loren ($3.40) to victory in 1:46.08 for the 1 1/16-mile race. Valentine Dancer set the pace and finished second. Before the race, Valentine Dancer's trainer, Craig Lewis, said the Paseana "is a prep for the Sunshine Millions. It's a little closer than we'd like [Jan. 29], but we don't have much choice. We'll see how she comes out of the race Friday and then make a decision." Bartok's Blithe finished third in the Paseana, followed by La Sami and Beaucette.

New Valenzuela mini-controversy averted

Pat Valenzuela was booked on six mounts Saturday and five more Sunday, but further drama surrounding his comeback began Wednesday, only a day following his re-licensing. On Thursday morning, trainer Wesley Ward named Valenzuela as a replacement rider on race 3 starter Frysland. Valenzuela would have subbed for Elvis Trujillo, who was not in California.

Stewards balked at the maneuver.

"We thought the day before that [naming Trujillo] was subterfuge to get Pat to ride the horse," said steward Pete Pedersen.

Pedersen and stewards Tom Ward and George Slender contacted Ward and discouraged him from naming Valenzuela on the horse. "It wasn't the way for Pat to come back," Pedersen said.

Valenzuela's attorney, Neil Papiano, subsequently consulted with the stewards, and trainer Ward agreed to name Mike Smith as the rider for Frysland. Ultimately, it did not matter. Frysland, who had not raced since September, was scratched for being "unsound."

Douglas rides 3,00th winner

Jockey Rene Douglas became the 122nd rider to win 3,000 races Thursday when he guided Grey Misty to victory Thursday in the fifth race at Santa Anita. "I don't really think about the numbers, I just keep trying to win," Douglas said, admitting that the night before "I was realizing how close I was."

Douglas shifted his tack from Chicago to California last fall, and has become one of the dominant riders on the circuit. He led the Hollywood Park standings with 37 wins, and entered the Friday card ranked second in the standings. Douglas, whose agent is Bob Meldahl, rode Grey Misty for trainer Bill Spawr.

"It means a lot, but at the same time, you're going to pass 3,000, and then you're looking for 4,000," he said, adding, "My main goal is to win the Kentucky Derby."

Douglas won a Triple Crown race in 1996 on Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note. The best 3-year-olds he currently rides are Chips Are Down, who is entered in Saturday's Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes, and the highly regarded maiden Thunder Maker.

Baffert unhappy with training track

An exasperated Bob Baffert expressed concern during training hours Friday morning about the slow, deep track. Baffert worked Yearly Report six furlongs [clockers gave her five furlongs in 1:01], and was steamed that the workout times were slow.

"It's a bad track," Baffert said. "They're going in deep. If I would have known it was going to be like this, I would not have worked her."

Baffert timed Yearly Report six furlongs in 1:14, an inordinately slow time for a filly who typically works six furlongs in 1:11 or faster.

"All it takes is one track like this to lose 10 horses. They don't get anything out of it, they just pull stuff," Baffert said.

Yearly Report will be one of the favorites Jan. 29 in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff.

Valpredo, owner and breeder, dies at 96

John Valpredo, a longtime California breeder who raced popular stakes winners Dimaggio and Fifty Six ina Row, died on Wednesday in Bakersfield, Calif. He was 96. Valpredo operated Valpredo Farms with his son, Don Valpredo, a former California Horse Racing Board commissioner and director of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Services for John Valpredo are Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Bakersfield.

Born Dec. 1, 1908 in Glendale, Calif., Valpredo spent his entire life as a California farmer and horse breeder. Valpredo was involved in the California racing industry for 60 years, and had his first win in 1942 at Santa Anita. He is survived by four children - sons Don and Jon, and daughters Natalie Valpredo and Antoinette Rudnick.