02/17/2004 1:00AM

More to do for Action This Day


ARCADIA, Calif. - Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, will have two more starts at the current Santa Anita meeting before the Kentucky Derby, according to his trainer, Richard Mandella.

Mandella said Action This Day will start in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 14 as a prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Action This Day finished fourth in his lone start this year, the Sham Stakes on Feb. 8. After that race, Mandella considered holding off until the Santa Anita Derby.

"It's too much time to wait for the Santa Anita Derby," Mandella said at his Santa Anita barn. "I kind of wish there was another week between the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby, but I think by the spring he will be doing good. Sometimes these colts fill out and need to be doing something."

The Sham Stakes was Action This Day's first start since his upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile here in October. In the Sham, Action This Day finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Master David.

"He just got tired, and I didn't think he would," Mandella said. "I was cursing myself. If we'd won the Sham and blew them away, I would have considered waiting."

In Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager last weekend, Action This Day closed at 14-1, the fourth choice in the betting.

Grey Memo sent to farm, likely to be retired

Grey Memo, a winner of 8 of 52 starts and $1,733,059 who has been a mainstay in California-bred stakes in recent years, is likely to be retired after finishing last in the Sensational Star Handicap last Saturday.

Pat Thompson, who bred the 7-year-old and owns him in partnership with Ron Manzani and Russell Sarno, said Grey Memo was sent to her Southern California farm on Tuesday.

A decision has not been made on whether Grey Memo will enter stud this year or in 2005.

"He's as sound as a bell of brass, but I think he's tired of being there," she said. "He needs a vacation. We'll put him up and decide what to do."

Grey Memo won two major stakes in 2002 - the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai and the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. He lost the last 15 starts of his career.

A winner of four other stakes, Grey Memo would typically drop to the back of the field but could launch a mighty rally through the stretch.

"He was pretty exciting, the way he dropped 20 lengths out of it," Thompson said.

Krone won't ride races until end of month

Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone will not ride races this week, but will exercise horses and is tentatively scheduled to resume riding at the end of the month.

Krone returned from a two-month break on Feb. 11, going winless with three mounts. The next morning she said she had "tweaked her back" and was experiencing soreness stemming from upper chest injuries suffered in a two-horse spill at Hollywood Park on Dec. 12.

Krone will work Halfbridled, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2003, on Thursday or Friday. Halfbridled is being pointed for the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 13. Krone may return on the weekend of Feb. 28.

"This gives me more time to heal," she said.

Owner wants bigger race for Island Fashion

Island Fashion was scratched from Monday's $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap because owner Jeff Nielsen wants to run the 4-year-old filly in a race with more prize money and national attention.

"We want to move her to spots that will allow the public to see what she is all about," Nielsen said via telephone from Minnesota. "It's a Monday race. It's not televised on TVG."

Island Fashion was the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Maria, which was won by Star Parade over recent stakes winner Bare Necessities. Adoration, the 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, was fourth.

"In reviewing this race, I was looking for a more exciting spot on a national level," Nielsen said. "It's not meant to be disparaging toward the competition. There just didn't seem to be the excitement generated for this spot. I can't explain it. Maybe it's because of Derby fever and the 3-year-old season starting."

Nielsen insists that Island Fashion is sound, and that she was not withdrawn because of her physical condition.

Island Fashion has already won two Grade 1 stakes over seven furlongs at this meeting - the La Brea Stakes for 3-year-olds in December and the Santa Monica Handicap against older females last month.

Nielsen said he is considering three stakes for Island Fashion - the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap on March 13, the $1 million Godolphin Mile against males in Dubai on March 27, and the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 3.

"When she wins her third Grade 1 in a row, which I hope she will do, I hope it's for bigger money," he said. "I believe she is the best filly and mare in the country."

Apprentice Ruis commits to California full time

Apprentice jockey Mick Ruis, 16, has returned to riding in Southern California full time, effective Thursday.

Ruis is leading the standings at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. He won the first race of his career at Hollywood Park last spring and rode in Southern California through the Del Mar meeting.

In recent months, Ruis has ridden primarily at Turf Paradise, but has traveled to Southern California on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Through Monday, he had three wins from 21 mounts at this meeting.

Ruis has three rides on Thursday.

Dispersal could disrupt Cat Fighter's training

Cat Fighter won her first stakes in the La Canada Stakes last Saturday. If she wins another, it will be for new owners.

On March 2, The Thoroughbred Corp. is holding a dispersal of horses of racing age at Barretts.

The timing of the sale may make it difficult for Cat Fighter to start in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap for older fillies and mares on March 13, the top race for the division at this meeting.

But Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corp., said Cat Fighter is unlikely to miss much training in advance of the sale.

"She will only be there a couple of days," he said.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Cat Fighter is by top stallion Storm Cat out of Strategic Maneuver, a leading 2-year-old filly of 1993.

The disappointment in the La Canada was Victory Encounter, the 9-5 favorite who finished last. Trainer John Sadler said Victory Encounter will undergo a nuclear scan this week to check for injury.

"I think something is bothering her, but I don't know what it is," he said. "I think she's off behind."

Azeri works out, possibly for Apple Blossom

Azeri, the 2003 Horse of the Year and champion older female of 2002 and 2003, worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Sunday.

Now trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Azeri has had two workouts since she returned to training in late December. Azeri has not started since finishing second in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap in late September, a loss that ended an 11-race winning streak. That was her final start for trainer Laura de Seroux.

Azeri was slated for retirement in mid-October and sent to Kentucky, but owner Michael Paulson had her put back in training in late December.

Paulson and Lukas have not announced Azeri's next start, but the Apple Blossom is under consideration.

Pleasantly Perfect gearing up for Big Cap

Pleasantly Perfect, the top contender for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40 on Monday. The winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic in October, Pleasantly Perfect has won his only start this year, the San Antonio Handicap on Jan. 31.

Hopefuls for the Big Cap include Buddy Gil, Chinkapin, Domestic Dispute, Olmodavor, Saint Buddy, Southern Image, Star Cross, and Toccet.

Desormeaux appeals three-day suspension

Jockey Kent Desormeaux is appealing a three-day suspension after his mount was disqualified in Saturday's fourth race. Riding Saint Chrisjon, Desormeaux was disqualified from third to fourth for failing to maintain a straight course through the stretch.

The suspension was scheduled for Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.