03/11/2004 12:00AM

Nakatani gets 30-day suspension


ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Corey Nakatani received a 30-day suspension from Santa Anita stewards Thursday for causing interference that resulted in a spill in the sixth race March 6.

Nakatani was cited for a "wanton act that resulted in a racing accident," according to a one-page ruling signed by stewards Ingrid Fermin, Pete Pedersen, and Tom Ward.

The suspension covers racing from March 18 to April 28, but Nakatani said he would immediately launch an appeal. An appeal would allow Nakatani to continue riding until the case is heard.

The suspension prohibits Nakatani from riding designated races, or major stakes, but that portion of the penalty is on hold, pending appeal.

"I think it's out of line," Nakatani said of the decision.

The incident that resulted in the suspension occurred on the backstretch of a one-mile turf race for $50,000 claimers. Nakatani was aboard Mister Cosmi, who struck the rail after he was crowded by Terrifying, who was ridden by Javiar Santiago.

Nakatani and Santiago appeared to exchange words before Mister Cosmi then drifted out and bumped Terrifying near the half-mile pole. Terrifying stumbled, unseating Santiago, who was not injured in the fall.

In a 90-minute hearing before stewards Wednesday, Nakatani said he moved his mount to the outside to get room behind pacesetter Beyond Infinity. "I started to drift out, my horse switched leads and bore out," Nakatani told the stewards on Wednesday. "The horse is at fault for doing what he did."

Mister Cosmi was disqualified from eighth and placed last.

Nakatani's suspension is one of the longer penalties issued by Santa Anita stewards in recent years. In February 2003, Matt Garcia received a 10-day suspension for causing a spill that left jockey Joe Steiner sidelined for more than two months. A week later, Tony Farina received a seven-day suspension for causing interference that resulted in a spill involving Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. Pincay suffered neck injuries in the spill and later announced his retirement.

Thursday's suspension equals the longest of Nakatani's career. In 1997, he was suspended for a month for pushing apprentice jockey Ryan Barber from the saddle after a race at Del Mar.

Minister Eric finally gets a race

Minister Eric, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last October, makes his 3-year-old debut in a $49,000 allowance on the hillside turf course Saturday at a distance of about 6 1/2 furlongs.

The race ends a frustrating two weeks for trainer Richard Mandella, who tried to enter Minister Eric in several other races. Minister Eric was not able to start because the races failed to fill or because he was drawn on the also-eligible list.

The allowance on Saturday has drawn nine entrants, including the French shippers Bedmar, Boboman (trained by Mandella), and Fabulous Groom. Other hopefuls include Kingdom Come, who was imported from England last fall and ran second in his U.S. debut on Jan. 31; and Tenace, a Florida shipper who is making his first start for trainer Vladimir Cerin.

Owned by Gerald Ford, Minister Eric is still possible for the Kentucky Derby, Mandella said. In five starts, Minister Eric has one win - a maiden race - and was second in the Del Mar Futurity before the BC Juvenile. In his career debut last July at Hollywood Park, Minister Eric finished fourth on turf.

"The main thing is I get to run the horse," Mandella said. "After this we can get a couple of works, including a long one, and then a Derby prep. This race will get the cobwebs out."

Pleasantly Perfect to ship if healthy

Pleasantly Perfect, scratched from the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 because of a temperature, worked seven furlongs 1:25.60 on Thursday and remains on schedule for a start in the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al-Sheba on March 27.

Pleasantly Perfect worked in company with two stablemates under jockey Alex Solis, galloping out a mile in 1:38.

Mandella said Pleasantly Perfect will ship to Dubai on a charter Saturday if his health remains satisfactory.

"We'll hold our breath overnight and make sure he doesn't have a temperature," he said. "If everything is good, he'll fly Saturday."

Mandella is taking no chances with Pleasantly Perfect's preparation. Pleasantly Perfect will be accompanied on the flight by prominent veterinarian Rick Arthur, who will remain in Dubai until next week to monitor Pleasantly Perfect.

"Rick knows the horse, and there is a comfort level to him being there," Mandella said. "He's a very important horse and very valuable."

Four Southern California-based horses are pointing for the Dubai World Cup. Fleetstreet Dancer, third behind Pleasantly Perfect in the San Antonio Handicap on Jan. 31, worked six furlongs in 1:14.20 at Hollywood Park on Thursday. Domestic Dispute, the upset winner of the Strub Stakes on Feb. 7, worked a mile under Gary Stevens at Santa Anita in 1:42.40.

Medaglia d'Oro, the winner of the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park last month, is a top contender for the rich race. He is trained by Bobby Frankel.

No Godolphin Mile for Midas Eyes

Midas Eyes, a troubled fourth in the Strub Stakes on Feb. 7 and a two-time stakes winner last year, will not start in the $1 million Godolphin Mile, Frankel said.

Frankel said he did not have a goal for Midas Eyes. He said Midas Eyes is unlikely to start in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 10.

The stable will be represented in that race by Ghostzapper, who won the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park last September. Ghostzapper has yet to start this year.

Midas Eyes is owned by Edmund Gann, who also owns Medaglia d'Oro.

Among other horses being pointed to the Dubai World Cup program, Tsigane, the winner of the Daytona Handicap on turf at Santa Anita on Feb. 15, will make his main track debut in the $2 million Golden Shaheen, run over a straightaway six furlongs.

Tsigane was stakes-placed in France last year. Owned by Prestonwood Farm, Tsigane joined trainer Julio Canani's stable last fall. Thursday, Tsigane worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds.

Sarafan, fourth in the Frank Kilroe Mile on March 6 in his 2004 debut, worked three furlongs in 35.20 seconds on turf Thursday. Trainer Neil Drysdale said Gary Stevens will ride Sarafan in the $2 million Dubai Duty Free over about 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Baffert may have two more on Derby trail

Trainer Bob Baffert's hopes for the Kentucky Derby were revived by Wimbledon's emphatic win in the Louisiana Derby last weekend.

Baffert will hope to add Derby candidates with two starters in Sunday's $250,000 San Felipe Stakes, a prep to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Baffert starts Odds On and Preachinatthebar, both of whom have run well at this meeting.

Preachinatthebar finished a length behind the highly regarded Master David in the Sham Stakes on Feb. 8. In January, Preachinatthebar was fourth in the Santa Catalina Stakes in his stakes debut.

Odds On was a three-length winner of an allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs Feb. 21, his first start since being eased in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes last October.

"He's sort of a speed horse," Baffert said. "He'll probably be on the lead and take them as far as he can."

The San Felipe field is led by Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, and St Averil, the winner of the Santa Catalina Stakes on Jan. 17. Other probables include Cheiron, Harvard Avenue, Last Minute Detail, Rushin' to Heaven, and Toasted.

Adoration co-highweight for Santa Margarita

There may be only five runners and four betting interests in Sunday's $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap over 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares.

Adoration and Fencelineneighbor are owned by John and Jerry Amerman and will be coupled in the betting against Bare Necessities, Star Parade, and La Tour.

Adoration, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff last October, and Bare Necessities, second to Star Parade in the Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 16, share highweight of 118 pounds. Star Parade carries 115 pounds, a one-pound increase from her assignment in the Santa Maria. Fencelineneighbor and La Tour will carry 114 pounds.

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year who won the Santa Margarita that year, worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on Thursday, the fastest of eight recorded works at the distance.

Unraced since September, Azeri has been trained by D. Wayne Lukas since she was taken out of retirement last December by owner Michael Paulson. Lukas has not mentioned a specific comeback race for Azeri, but the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 3 is possible.