10/13/2002 11:00PM

Nakatani nurses sore back

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Corey Nakatani was excused from his mounts on Monday at Santa Anita after complaining of body soreness following a two-horse spill in Sunday's fifth race.

The incident occurred at the end of the backstretch in a 6 1/2-furlong race for $28,000 to $32,000 claimers. Hero's Welcome stumbled and unseated jockey Garrett Gomez, who was in the path of Nakatani's mount, Sing Because.

Nakatani was unable to avoid the accident and was unseated from Sing Because and fell heavily.

Both Nakatani and Gomez were taken to first aid, but neither were hospitalized. Gomez took off two mounts and later rode two races. Nakatani took off the remainder of his mounts on Sunday.

Nakatani was scheduled to visit a doctor for a precautionary check-up on Monday, according to his agent, Bob Meldahl, who added that Nakatani was sore in his lower back.

Nakatani missed nearly three months of racing, from early May to late July, this year after suffering head and neck injuries in a spill at Hollywood Park. At the current Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet, he was second in the jockey standings with eight wins through Sunday.

Nakatani has three mounts for the Breeders' Cup program at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 - Momentum in the $4 million Classic, Swept Overboard in the $1 million Sprint, and Forbidden Apple in the $1 million Mile.

On Monday Gomez said he was sore but able to ride.

Hero's Welcome was euthanized as a result of cannon bone injuries, track officials said. Later in the day, Dirty Trick, who finished fourth as the favorite in the ninth race, was euthanized after suffering an ankle injury when galloping out past the wire.

Vindication in stiff workout

Vindication, the winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park on Sept. 14, worked seven furlongs in 1:23.20 before the first race on Monday in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Vindication worked in company with Sugar Babe. The pair were never separated by more than a half-length through fractions of 24.20, 47.80, and 59.40 seconds. Through the stretch, Smith gave Vindication a vigorous hand-ride and even a backhanded crack of the whip.

The colt returned to trainer Bob Baffert's barn blowing hard.

"He needed a good stiff workout," Baffert said.

'Buffy,' Crafty C.T. a go

The participation of several Breeders' Cup candidates was clarified over the weekend. Buffythecenterfold (Juvenile Fillies) and Crafty C.T. (Sprint) are scheduled to race at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, while Night Patrol (Mile) and Explicit (Sprint) are not.

Night Patrol, the winner of the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 5, will bypass the Mile in favor of the $500,000 Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30, trainer Nick Canani said.

Night Patrol won the richest race of his career in the Oak Tree Mile, but Canani would prefer a start at Hollywood Park where Night Patrol won the Inglewood Handicap earlier this year.

"He loves that turf course, and I don't think he likes to ship," Canani said. "I think this will be better for him. The Breeders' Cup is coming back a little soon. He's the sort of horse that likes a little time between races."

Explicit, a stakes winner at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Belmont Park this year, has been troubled by raw heels in recent workout and races, trainer Ian Jory said.

Jory watched Explicit work five furlongs in 58.80 seconds at Hollywood Park on Monday, and said that the 5-year-old "ran down," or burned his heels, during the workout. The same incident occurred after Explicit finished sixth in the Forego Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 1 and last of six in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 5.

Jory said Explicit will be considered for a race in Hong Kong in December.

Buffythecenterfold was "85-15" to start in the Juvenile Fillies, trainer Mel Stute said. She finished second in the Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 6.

Starrer works for BC Distaff

An impressive workout on Monday by Starrer, who most recently finished second to Azeri in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap, convinced trainer John Shirreffs to send the filly to Arlington Park for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff Oct. 26.

Starrer worked six furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:11.80, the best time of six at the distance, with jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who will ride Starrer in the Distaff.

"She worked really well," Shirreffs said. "We put blinkers on her, and that seemed to work really well."

Starrer will breeze again next Monday, then be flown to Arlington on Tuesday, Shirreffs said.

Starrer, owned by movie theater owner George Krikorian, is winless in four starts this year, but comes off her best performance of the year. Last year, she finished fifth in the Distaff, less than three lengths behind the victorious Unbridled Elaine.

* Kona Gold, the champion sprinter of 2000, worked five furlongs in 58.40 seconds at Santa Anita, the fastest of 26 works at the distance.

"He's working out of this world," jockey Alex Solis said. "It's so amazing how fast he's working and how easily he's doing it."

* Arbitrate, a Deputy Minister colt out of champion racemare Serena's Song, finished fourth in his career debut in Monday's first race.

Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Arbitrate raced close to the pace to early stretch, but couldn't sustain a rally in the final furlong. He finished fourth, 5 1/4 lengths behind heavy favorite Outta Here. Arbitrate races for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman