11/27/2004 12:00AM

Mitchell scratches Kela from Cigar with fever


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Mike Mitchell's working vacation became simply a vacation when he was forced to scratch Kela from Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct after the horse contracted a fever on Friday.

Mitchell said that Kela was diagnosed with a 102 temperature Friday afternoon and that it climbed to 104 later in the day. Following treatment with the medication Butazolidin, the fever was down to 101 by Saturday morning.

Mitchell said that Kela would be flown back to Southern California on Tuesday, but will be one of the horses he plans to stable in south Florida next year. Mitchell is scheduled to take stalls at the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach, Fla.

"He'll be [in California] where I can watch him," Mitchell said. "He'll be there a month under my care. I was very pleased with him this morning. I think he's going to be okay."

Mitchell said he would target sprint races at Gulfstream Park such as the Grade 3, $100,000 Deputy Minister on Feb. 5 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup on March 12.

Mitchell had targeted the Cigar Mile for Kela since he beat Pico Central in the Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar in August. Kela, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, was the second choice on the Cigar morning line.

Mitchell tried to combine this race and a family vacation with his wife and two daughters.

"We've had a wonderful time," Mitchell said. "I got to spend some quality time with my family, which was really good."

Read the Footnotes also scratched

Read the Footnotes' comeback to the races was delayed when trainer Rick Violette was unhappy with the physical well-being of the 3-year-old as well as the racetrack, and scratched him from a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race that he was entered in Saturday.

"He hasn't been right for the last couple of days," Violette said. "I might have messed him up on this freakin' racetrack."

Aqueduct's main track has been the subject of much scrutiny this week. The final seven races of Thursday's card were canceled when the jockeys refused to ride. The jockeys still had a couple of issues with the track on Friday, but opted to ride anyway.

As of Saturday morning, Violette had not taken X-rays of Read the Footnotes. Read the Footnotes, who won the Fountain of Youth this year, has not run since finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He had surgery to remove a chip from a knee.

Violette was hoping to use Saturday's race as a prep for the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Violette said that if nothing is seriously wrong with Read the Footnotes, the Malibu could still be an option.

"I'm hoping what it is is slight," Violette said. "The racetrack has me spooked. I could still make the Malibu, or I could wait till Gulfstream. He's been good to us - we're going to return the favor."

Inner track opens Wednesday

Six-furlong races dominate Aqueduct's inner-track racing scene, so it was not surprising that seven of the nine races carded for Wednesday's inner-track opener will be run at that distance.

The feature, however, will be a second-level allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Our Rite of Spring, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, heads the seven-horse field. Our Rite of Spring has won her last two dirt starts, including an entry-level allowance score by 12 3/4 lengths.

Her main competition will come from Provincial and Old Mother Goose.

One race earlier, Coeus, a good-looking 3-year-old debut winner here on Nov. 17, tries winners for the first time in a six-furlong allowance.