08/16/2004 11:00PM

Night Patrol may try Classic

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Kela, winning Sunday's Pat O'Brien, will rest for a couple of weeks and train up to the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Night Patrol was considered a live longshot in the San Diego Handicap three weeks ago, but whatever chance he had went by the wayside the first stride out of the gate, when he stumbled badly. He remarkably remained in the thick of the battle until the top of the stretch, when his eventful trip took its toll.

Because that race was so inconclusive, trainer Marcelo Polanco and owner Jeffrey Nielsen are considering running Night Patrol back at Del Mar in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, in which Night Patrol again would face Choctaw Nation, Pleasantly Perfect, and During, the one-two-three finishers in the San Diego.

On Tuesday morning, Night Patrol tuned up for the Pacific Classic with a sharp four-furlong work in 46.80 seconds. Mick Ruis was aboard, but Tyler Baze will ride Night Patrol in the Pacific Classic.

"It was a nice, refreshing work," Polanco said as he watched Night Patrol gallop out. "We're still undecided about the race. We've got more options. But he's doing real good, and he came out of the San Diego kicking and jumping.

"He ran super in the San Diego. I don't think he would have won the race if he hadn't stumbled, but he went down on his knee, and his chin hit the floor. Tyler said he was lucky to stay on. Tyler said he wanted another chance on the horse."

Polanco said that if Night Patrol bypasses the Pacific Classic, his next likely start would be the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, a one-mile race on Sept. 5.

Pacific Classic entries were due and post positions were to be drawn on Wednesday night at a party at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. In addition to Night Patrol, the field was expected to include Choctaw Nation (Victor Espinoza the rider), Colonial Colony (Rafael Bejarano), During (Corey Nakatani), El Elogiado (Kent Desormeaux), Perfect Drift (Pat Day), Pleasantly Perfect (Jerry Bailey), and Total Impact (Mike Smith). Musique Toujours, Outta Here, and Verkade are possible.

Both Colonial Colony and Perfect Drift were scheduled to arrive from Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon.

Sagitta Ra works for Oaks

The other Grade 1 race at Del Mar this weekend is Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, which is headed by American Oaks winner Ticker Tape. Sagitta Ra, who should be one of the midpriced choices in the Del Mar Oaks, completed her serious training for the race on Tuesday with a half-mile drill in 50 seconds for trainer Bobby Frankel.

The Del Mar Oaks, at 1 1/8 miles on turf, is also expected to include Agata, Amorama, Red Top, Seducer's Song, Sweet Win, and Western Hemisphere.

Both Alphabet Kisses and Shake Off are likely to pass the Oaks in favor of Sunday's $75,000-added Barona Cup Handicap at one mile on turf.

Saturday's co-feature is the Grade 3, $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for older female sprinters at 6 1/2 furlongs. The composition of the field will be determined by the presence of Ema Bovary. If she ships in from northern California, many are expected to duck her. Ema Bovary is also under consideration for the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Her trainer, Larry Ross, did not return phone messages Tuesday.

All Glory, Coconut Girl, Cyber Slew, and Dream of Summer are among those expected to go in the Rancho Bernardo.

Pico Central 'perfect,' Lobo says

Trainer Paolo Lobo said Tuesday that Pico Central, who was upset in Sunday's Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap, "came out of the race in perfect shape."

"I don't really have any excuse," Lobo said from Hollywood Park, where he is based. "I don't know what happened."

Pico Central, the winner of the Carter Handicap and Metropolitan Mile, finished third in the Pat O'Brien, his first loss in five starts this year.

Lobo said he had not decided what his plans would be for Pico Central in the immediate future. One possibility is to point for the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, but Pico Central would have to be supplemented to that race by owner Gary Tanaka.

"I haven't talked with Mr. Tanaka yet," Lobo said. "I don't know if we are going to run in the Breeders' Cup or not."

If the Breeders' Cup is bypassed, a possible late-season goal might be the Cigar Mile in November at Aqueduct, the track over which Pico Central won the Carter.

Brief freshening for Kela

Kela, who won the Pat O'Brien to sweep Del Mar's sprint stakes for older horses, will get some time off before heading straight to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, according to his trainer, Mike Mitchell.

"I'm just going to freshen him up and train him up to the Breeders' Cup," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said Kela would get a couple of weeks off at Bonnie Acres, a lay-up facility in Hemet, Calif., run by Bobby Mitchell, no relation to the trainer.

"We're going to kick him out in the sunshine and give him some grass just for a couple of weeks," Mike Mitchell said. "I don't want to let him down too much."

Baze ahead in jockey standings

With four victories on Monday, Tyler Baze extended his lead in the jockey standings to eight wins, 35-27, over second-place Nakatani. Baze is seeking his second straight riding title on this circuit, having won at Hollywood Park during the spring.

Doug O'Neill leads the trainer standings with 18 wins, four more than second-place Jeff Mullins.

* Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. will be out of town Sunday to ride Royal Place for trainer Rafael Becerra in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.