07/25/2003 11:00PM

Mullins breathing easy over Lil' Bro Eddie

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DEL MAR, Calif. - It was not the time of Lil' Bro Eddie's workout on Saturday at Del Mar that pleased trainer Jeff Mullins the most.

Instead, it was the sounds that the 2-year-old stakes winner Lil' Bro Eddie did not make that pleased Mullins, as Lil' Bro Eddie trained for Wednesday's Graduation Stakes for California-breds.

Three weeks after undergoing surgery to aid his breathing, Lil' Bro Eddie worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds, and Mullins was relieved. "He never made a sound," Mullins said.

On July 5, Lil' Bro Eddie underwent surgery to correct an entrapped epiglottis, which was preventing the gelding from fully getting his air, Mullins said. The ailment was detected after Lil' Bro Eddie won the Alameda County Futurity over five furlongs at Pleasanton on July 4, leading throughout to score by a length.

"He had an ulcer in there, too," Mullins said.

Lil' Bro Eddie was claimed by Richard Englander for $40,000 from a maiden race at Hollywood Park on June 18, a race he won by 3 1/2 lengths as a heavy favorite.

The maiden claimer was Lil' Bro Eddie's seventh start. He ran three times at two furlongs at Santa Anita in March and April and three times at Hollywood Park before winning a maiden race, for a partnership and trainer Leonard Duncan. Some horses do not have that many starts by the end of their 3-year-old seasons.

On June 18, Englander advised Mullins to make a paddock inspection and to claim Lil' Bro Eddie if he liked what he saw.

"One thing about him is he has plenty of experience," Mullins said. "He's like iron."

The Graduation Stakes, run over 5 1/2 furlongs, will draw two stakes winners from the Hollywood Park meeting. One is Stalking Tiger, winner of the Haggin Stakes who will be favored. But there will be heavy support, too, for Alpenfest, who won the Proctor Stakes in May.

Stalking Tiger earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure in the Haggin Stakes, 18 points higher than the figure that Lil' Bro Eddie earned on July 4. But Mullins expects improvement from his runner on Wednesday.

"He should move up 10 points with a clean throat," Mullins said.

Controversial pick six

On a Friday program that featured a pick six carryover of $562,575, logical contenders finished first in all six races in the sequence, but the outcome was affected by a controversial disqualification in the third race, the first leg.

Pretty Halo, the 2-1 favorite, ridden by apprentice jockey Mick Ruis, finished first by a nose over 3-1 Perfect Miss in a six-furlong sprint for $22,500 to $25,000 claimers but was disqualified and placed second for causing interference in the stretch.

Stewards Ingrid Fermin, Dave Samuel, and George Slender spent five minutes reviewing the stretch run before deciding that Pretty Halo, racing on the inside, had interfered with Perfect Miss.

The decision was met was a boisterous reaction, the crowd booing even louder when jockey Martin Pedroza led Perfect Miss into the winner's circle.

Slender said the margin of victory in the the race led to the decision.

"The main thing is he got beat a zop," he said, referring to the nose difference.

"If it had been a half-length or a length, we wouldn't have taken him down. He kept getting out."

Later in the program, two favorites, two second-choices, and a third-choice won pick-six races, creating a payoff of $10,539.80 for the 152 winning tickets.

Private Chef out with broken bone

Private Chef, winner of the Will Rogers Handicap at Hollywood Park in May, has been sidelined by a condylar fracture of a cannon bone that will keep him out of training until the spring.

Trainer John Shirreffs said on Saturday that Private Chef underwent surgery on Friday to have a screw inserted into the injured bone. "There goes his 3-year-old year," Shirreffs said.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Private Chef finished fourth as the favorite in the Cinema Handicap on June 29, his first loss in three starts. He was being pointed for the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 16 at the time of the injury.

Shirreffs said that Private Chef will have three or four months on a farm before undergoing another surgical procedure to have the screw removed. If the prognosis is good, Shirreffs said that Private Chef could resume training by the first of the year.

Perfect Moon targets Best Pal

Perfect Moon, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 19, is likely to return in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes over

6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 17, trainer Mel Stute said.

Owned by Annabelle Stute and The Hat Ranch, Perfect Moon won his first stakes in the Grade 3 Juvenile Championship, beating the heavily favored Ruler's Court, who ran third.

Trainer Eoin Harty said Ruler's Court was compromised by a poor start and emerged from the race with a few cuts and bruises. He is planning on a rematch with Perfect Moon in the Best Pal Stakes.

"He got bumped around coming out of the gate," Harty said. "He seems fine now."

Eye of the Tiger bound for Travers

Eye of the Tiger, the winner of the Affirmed Handicap in June who finished in a dead-heat for third in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this month, worked five furlongs in 58.40 seconds on Saturday.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Eye of the Tiger is being pointed for the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 23.

* Candy Ride, the unbeaten winner of the American Handicap on July 4, worked six furlongs in 1:11. Trained by Ron McAnally for Sid and Jenny Craig, Candy Ride is being pointed for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24.

* Patrick Valenzuela, the leading rider in Southern California this year, is expected to appeal a three-day suspension for a disqualification in Thursday's seventh race, according to his agent, Nick Cosato. Valenzuela was cited for causing interference in the stretch aboard Prairie Predator, who was disqualified from fourth to seventh. The suspension was scheduled for Aug. 1-3.