12/23/2002 1:00AM

Newcomers bring excitement to state


It is impossible to know how good Tribal Rule could have been with a little luck.

In just four career starts, Tribal Rule showed the sort of ability as a sprinter that had owner Marty Wygod and trainer Julio Canani seriously considering the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Soundness problems ended those dreams and ultimately led to Tribal Rule's retirement earlier this year.

In 2003, Tribal Rule enters stud at Wygod's River Edge Farm in Buellton, Calif., for a fee of $5,000.

He is one of many prominent horses that will launch their stud careers in California next year. The list includes Skimming, a two-time winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar; High Demand, a solid turf runner; Highland Gold, a stakes winner at Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park; and Richly Blended, a two-time stakes winner in New York.

The five are joined on the newcomers' list by a group of stallions recently relocated from other parts of the country. The champion sprinter Lit de Justice is part of that group as is Cobra King, Puerto Madero, and Worldly Manner.

Tribal Rule (Storm Cat-Sown) never ran in a stakes but produced stakes-caliber clockings throughout his career. Unraced until 4, he was unbeaten in two starts as a 5-year-old when talk of the Breeders' Cup Sprint was at its height. The injury that derailed those plans kept him away from the races until May of this year.

In his lone start as a 6-year-old, Tribal Rule finished second to Mighty David in an allowance race at Hollywood Park. The final time of 1:08.27 was the fastest six furlongs run at the spring-summer meet.

High Demand (Danzig-Jasmina) won 5 of 6 career starts. But like Tribal Rule, he never fulfilled his potential. In a two-year career, including an undefeated three-race season over in 2001, he earned $192,120. His wins included an allowance race on turf at Hollywood Park at 5 1/2 furlongs and two allowance races on turf at Del Mar.

High Demand enters stud for $7,500 at Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, Calif. His fee is equal to Skimming as the highest for a freshman stallion, and isn't far off the $10,000 for the more-established trio of Avenue of Flags, Event of the Year, and General Meeting, all of whom stand at Golden Eagle Farm.

Highland Gold is one of four freshman stallions launching their careers at Ken Arnold Ranch in Stockton, Calif. He is joined by John U to Berry, Peteski's Charm, and Tannersmyman.

Highland Gold (Slew o' Gold-Whitesburg Express) will stand for $2,500. A winner of 7 of 25 starts and $266,455, he won the Half Moon Bay Stakes at a mile as a 3-year-old in 1998, and won the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2000, his lone win in a graded stakes.

Highland Gold placed in two starts earlier this year before he was retired.

Unlike the other notable freshman stallions, Richly Blended was at his best outside of California. In 2001, the 3-year-old Richly Blended won 4 of 6 starts and earned $323,280. He won the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes behind Congaree and Monarchos, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Richly Blended (Rizzi-Valid Blend) will stand at Rancho San Miguel in San Miguel, Calif., for $4,000.

The new stallion crop will compete for mares with several relocated stallions, some of whom have yet to have foals to race.

The oldest foals sired by Puerto Madero will be yearlings in 2003. Puerto Madero, an 8-year-old, was a multiple stakes winner in Chile before arriving in California in 1998. During his U.S. racing career, he won the Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Puerto Madero previously stood in Kentucky. He will have a fee of $3,500 at Hideaway Farm.

Lit de Justice was champion sprinter in 1996, the year he won four stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Woodbine. Lit de Justice, now 12, has had three crops to race and is the sire of the New York-based stakes winner No Parole.

Lit de Justice will stand at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez for $7,500.

The addition of Cobra King to the stallion roster at Pegasus Ranch and Worldly Manner to Creston Farm marks the return to California for two horses who were outstanding as juveniles.

Cobra King won 5 of 8 starts and $256,825 in 1995 and 1996, including three stakes at Hollywood Park and Del Mar. He has three crops to race and is the sire of stakes winner Fabulous Brush.

Worldly Manner won the 1998 Del Mar Futurity and was later bought privately by Godolphin Racing. Worldly Manner finished seventh in the 1999 Kentucky Derby. He later raced in Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

Overall, Worldy Manner won 3 of 10 starts and $251,857, and was at his best as a 2-year-old in California. Worldly Manner's oldest foals will be yearlings in 2003.