11/16/2005 1:00AM

New sod installed on turf course

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Benoit & Associates
Rock Hard Ten was scheduled to have ankle surgery Thursday or Friday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hollywood Park has completed the installation of new sod for its beleaguered turf course, which is not being used during the current meeting after the course installed this summer failed to take root.

The new course is a Bermuda grass known as GN-1, according to racing secretary Martin Panza, and was developed by professional golfer Greg Norman. A similar Bermuda grass is used on the turf course at Del Mar.

The installation of the new sod was completed last weekend. "It was ripped and replaced within a week," Panza said.

The new course will not be used until the last week of April, when Hollywood Park opens its spring-summer meeting. Until then, the track will take measures to ensure the course is growing, including the application of a chemical that promotes growth, Panza said.

"Supposedly, it's the most tolerant to cool weather," he said of the new Bermuda surface.

Panza said the track would not cover the grass with tarps to keep the surface warm during the winter, because the tarps would interfere with sunshine.

The absence of turf racing has hampered field sizes. On Wednesday, after six horses withdrew in the morning, there were 54 horses scheduled to run in eight races. In an effort to attract more horses, entries have been drawn much later than during a normal meeting.

Panza was reluctant to comment on field sizes.

"This is unchartered ground," he said of a main track-only meeting. "I've got some big stables that haven't had many runners yet."

Rock Hard Ten surgery scheduled

Rock Hard Ten, the top handicap horse in California this year, was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery to have a bone chip removed from a left ankle on Thursday or Friday, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella said the surgery will determine whether Rock Hard Ten remains in training as a 5-year-old in 2006 or goes to stud.

"We'll take a look and see what shape we're in. It could be fairly insignificant," he said. "In a few days, we'll have a complete answer. This is part diagnostic what we're doing now."

Mandella said that if Rock Hard Ten remains in training that he would not be ready for the $6 million Dubai World Cup in the Middle East in March, a race that Mandella had mentioned as an early season goal.

Owned by Mercedes Stable and Madeleine Pickens, Rock Hard Ten has won 7 of 11 starts and $1,870,380. He won his most recent start, the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 1, but was a late withdrawal from the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 29 because of a bruised foot.

Catch My Fancy back in Moccasin

Catch My Fancy did not earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after running a poor fifth in a prep race, the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes on Oct. 8.

But there may still be a major stakes for Catch My Fancy this year. Sunday, Catch My Fancy returns in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes over seven furlongs for 2-year-old fillies. A big performance in that race could lead to a start in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes in December, the final Grade 1 race for 2-year-old fillies this year.

Trained by Craig Dollase for Terry Lanni, Catch My Fancy won her first two starts, including the Barretts Debutante Stakes at Fairplex Park in September. Dollase dismissed the loss in the Frizette, citing an illness.

"She came out of that race sick," he said. "We're hoping for a big turnaround. I liked the way she worked a few days ago."

Catch My Fancy, bought for $150,000 at Barretts in March, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Monday.

The Moccasin Stakes is expected to include Bettarun Fast, Cotton Bay, My Little Money, Private World, and True Xena. Private World and Bettarun Fast finished first and second in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 23.

Fourty Niners Son out rest of year

Fourty Niners Son, the winner of the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita last month, will have the remainder of the year off, trainer Neil Drysdale said Wednesday.

Fourty Niners Son finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, running as close as fourth before fading through the stretch.

The loss ended a string of seven finishes in the first three for the 4-year-old, a span that included a second in the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar and third-place finishes in the American Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Arlington Million in Chicago.

"He didn't care for the soft turf in Chicago and hated it in New York," Drysdale said.

Owned by Tom Baxter, Fourty Niners Son has won half of his eight starts. He was a maiden at this time last year.

"He's a developing horse and I hope he'll be a better horse next year," Drysdale said. "I think he continued to improve through this year."

Solis wins first ride back

Jockey Alex Solis won aboard his first ride on Wednesday, Complicit Swiss ($3.40), in an uncompetitive sprint for maiden claimers. Complicit Swiss won by 10 1/4 lengths.

Solis missed the first week of the Hollywood Park fall meeting while recovering from a knee injury suffered in a spill at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.

Jocks seeking races out of state

The absence of turf racing this fall has led both horses and jockeys to leave town in search of opportunities. On Saturday, Jose Valdivia Jr., is booked on Chinese Dragon in the $40,000 Paradise Valley Handicap at Turf Paradise.

The same day, Rene Douglas travels to Laurel in Maryland to ride Tent in the Laurel Futurity. Trained by James Cassidy, Tent has won once in six starts and was third in a minor stakes in England in his last out over a mile on Sept. 1. The Laurel Futurity will mark his U.S. debut.

* Jockey Tony Farina, who has won 14 races this year, was hospitalized on Wednesday morning in Arcadia after being unseated when his mount broke down in a morning workout at Santa Anita. According to his agent, Derek Lawson, Farina was scheduled to undergo precautionary X-rays on his knee on Wednesday.