10/09/2007 12:00AM

Nevada Worrier learns to relax a bit

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Nevada Worrier, the winner of Monday's $81,110 Cavonnier Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, has finally figured out there is more to Thoroughbred racing than running down the stretch.

After failing to win four two-furlong races at Santa Anita and Bay Meadows in a four-week span in March and April, Nevada Worrier learned patience over the summer. Monday, in his eighth career start, he won his first stakes, and joined the list of contenders for the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3.

The Cal Cup Juvenile is run at 1 1/16 miles, a distance that would have seemed too much for the gelding earlier this year.

"You couldn't get him to relax," trainer Jerry Wallace said. "He thought he was a Quarter Horse. That was the biggest challenge with him."

The victory in the Cavonnier proved that Nevada Worrier is developing and gave Wallace, 43, his first stakes win at Santa Anita. Ridden by Jon Court, Nevada Worrier ($16) was fifth on the backstretch, cruised to the lead with a three-wide move around the turn, and pulled clear to win the seven-furlong race for statebred 2-year-olds by 2 3/4 lengths over Commissioner Gordon in 1:22.40.

Suit Yourself, the 2-1 favorite, finished third in the field of eight. Topper Shopper, who finished fifth, was disqualified and placed sixth for interfering with Byjohn near the finish line.

Nevada Worrier has won 2 of 8 starts and $99,019 for owner-breeder Joseph Duffel.

Wallace is optimistic that Nevada Worrier can handle longer races, especially after a post-race chat with Court.

"Jon said, 'I can do anything I want with this horse,' " Wallace said.

Baze strategy yields stakes win

Sweet Belle won her first stakes in the restricted $71,950 Swingtime Stakes on Monday, thanks largely to a creative ride by jockey Michael Baze.

Sweet Belle was dueling for the lead with Shermeen on the backstretch of the one-mile turf race when Baze opted to take Sweet Belle out of the speed duel, move off the rail, and guide Sweet Belle to the outside of Shermeen.

After spotting Shermeen three lengths on the final turn, Sweet Belle ($13.40) retook the lead in the final furlong and held off a late run from Trick's Pic to win by a head in 1:35.08.

"When I hit the top of the stretch, she was dragging me," Baze said.

Shermeen finished third in the field of nine fillies and mares.

Sweet Belle has won 5 of 18 starts and $271,098 for a partnership and trainer Jose De Lima. A 4-year-old filly, she was third in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap here last April and will be considered for the $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap at a mile on turf on Nov. 4, the final day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Bordonaro still possible for Cup

Despite a fourth-place finish in Sunday's Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes, Bordonaro is being strongly considered for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, trainer Bill Spawr said.

Spawr said that he and owners Fred Carrillo and Dan Cassella would evaluate Bordonaro over the next "three to five days" before making a decision on whether to send the 6-year-old.

"The way the last few races have gone, we'll see if he belongs" in the BC Sprint, Spawr said. "If we think he has a chance, we'll go."

A second plan would be to stay at Santa Anita and run in the $150,000 California Cup Sprint for statebreds on Nov. 3.

The 2006 winner of the Ancient Title, Bordonaro broke from the rail in Sunday's running. He led by a length on the backstretch and by a head at the eighth pole before being passed by Idiot Proof, Greg's Gold, and Barbecue Eddie.

"He was pretty tired," Spawr said.

The Ancient Title was Bordonaro's fourth consecutive loss. The gelding has won 10 of 19 starts and $938,128.

Oak Leaf produces Juvenile contenders

Izarra, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes on Sept. 29, is one of four fillies from that race expected to be pre-entered in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Ron McAnally said earlier this week that he and owner Janis Whitham were leaning toward starting Izarra in the nation's top race for 2-year-old fillies. Izarra worked five furlongs in 1:04.80 on Monday, her first work since the Oak Leaf.

McAnally said the final decision will be up to him.

"We're looking at the competition and trying to get a grip on it," McAnally said. "I think we'll go, and the way Janis was talking, she thought the same way."

Oak Leaf winner Cry and Catch Me, fifth-place finisher Tasha's Miracle and seventh-place finisher Set Play are the other California-based probables for the BC Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Peter Miller is dismissing Set Play's loss in the Oak Leaf, her first start since a win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes on Sept. 3.

"I put a line through the last race," Miller said. "She was never comfortable at all."

Avila fined for positive

Trainer A.C. Avila has been fined $1,500 by Santa Anita stewards after one of his starters at Del Mar in July tested in excess of the permitted levels of the analgesic phenylbutazone.

The overage was found in a postrace test taken from Oceanus, who finished seventh in an optional claimer at a mile. The penalty was more severe than most penalties for excessive phenylbutazone because it was Avila's third such offense within a year.

Hollendorfer sees Heatseeker as flexible

Jockey Corey Nakatani won three consecutive races on Monday, and his most impressive winner was Heatseeker in an optional claimer. Making his debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Heatseeker ran seven furlongs in 1:20.80 for his second win of the year.

Hollendorfer was unsure where Heatseeker would return but emphasized that the 4-year-old colt is not considered strictly a sprinter.

"We were trying something different this time," he said. "We thought a middle distance would suit him."

Owned by William DeBurgh, Heatseeker was second in the Windy Sands Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 3, his final start for trainer Bobby Frankel.

* The pick six returned $106,143 to 15 ticket-holders on Monday, after a two-day carryover of $567,547 created widespread interest. Bettors added $1,847,846 to the pool on Monday. The winners of the pick six races were Coastal Eddy ($7.40), Heatseeker ($8.40), Rushen Heat ($22.20), Nevada Worrier ($16), Sweet Belle ($13.40), and Eden Simone ($4.80).