12/27/2002 1:00AM

No sleeping for Grade 1 winner


ARCADIA, Calif. - Minus a decent night of sleep, Julie Krone was buzzing through the Santa Anita stables on Friday morning, a day after she became the first woman rider to win a Grade 1 stakes in California, aboard Debonair Joe in the $200,000 Malibu Stakes.

The world's leading female rider, Krone has won numerous major stakes in her 20-year career. Still, she compared the win in the Malibu to her milestone victory in the

1993 Belmont Stakes, which gave her the distinction of becoming the first woman to ride the winner of a Triple Crown race.

"I didn't sleep at all," Krone said. "I couldn't. That's the most excited I've been since the Belmont Stakes."

The win is the first major stakes score of Krone's comeback, which began on Nov. 1 after an absence of 3 1/2 years. It was also Krone's first career win at Santa Anita. Aside from a few mounts in early November before the end of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet, Krone had only ridden a few major races at Santa Anita earlier in her career.

While Debonair Joe was a 26-1 outsider, the victory was a popular one. As Krone guided the former claimer back to the winner's circle, she was warmly greeted by a packed clubhouse.

"Only a couple of times in my life - when I was on Rubiano, in the Belmont Stakes, and at Keeneland, where they draw a different kind of crowd - have I heard a crowd react like that," Krone said.

Debonair Joe won his second consecutive stakes in the Malibu, which came 19 days after he won the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park at 52-1.

In the paddock before Thursday's race, Krone told trainer Juan Pablo Silva that she wanted to use the same tactics in the Malibu that had worked in the Underwood - staying at the back of the field until the final three furlongs.

"He's fun to ride," Krone said. "I just have to give him somewhere to go."

Debonair Joe broke well, and was wide on the backstretch while racing at the back of the field. Krone kept Debonair Joe four wide on the turn and five wide entering the stretch. Fourth at the eighth pole, Debonair Joe caught Total Limit in the final few strides, finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.40.

"He had a real concept where the wire is," Krone said. "It was a wonderful performance from Joe."

American System, who fought with Total Limit for the lead, finished third, a half-length behind the winner.

The list of also-rans was full of horses that ran disappointing races.

Castle Gandolfo, who was 12th in the Kentucky Derby, finished fifth in his first start for trainer Craig Dollase. My Cousin Matt, the winner of the Great State Challenge Sprint at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 7, could only manage sixth. Mayakovsky, the winner of the Gotham Stakes in March, chased and was done early.

Sunday Break, who was third in the Belmont Stakes and was sent off as the 5-2 favorite, finished last. He was third after a quarter-mile, but was quickly out of contention.

"I'm not sure how much he likes being down on the rail," trainer Neil Drysdale said.

More than paying the bills

Owner Lynne Ristad of Pismo Beach, Calif., claimed Debonair Joe for $12,500 at Fairplex Park in September. Debonair Joe, a gelding, has won 6 of 18 starts for $314,085 lifetime.

Shortly after Debonair Joe was claimed, Silva realized that the gelding was ill, with a large amount of mucus in his lungs.

"From a one to a five, he was about a four," Silva said.

Following the claim, Debonair Joe ran three times for claiming prices, winning two races, before pulling the upset in the Underwood Stakes. That result was the first stakes win for Silva, 25, the son of trainer Jose Silva.

The younger Silva still keeps in close contact with his father, who said last summer that he was retired. Juan Pablo Silva said his father intends to reopen a public stable in the New Year.

Juan Pablo Silva admits he relies heavily on his father for day-to-day advice.

"Even this morning I was going to scratch him because he was coughing," he said after the races on Thursday evening. "I may have been overreacting. I called my dad and he said, 'Call the vet. See if he has any mucus.' He scoped fine."

Silva said that Debonair Joe will be pointed for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint for California- and Florida-breds at Santa Anita on Jan. 25.

Frankel has some ammunition left

Two wins in the first two days of the Santa Anita meet helped trainer Bobby Frankel move within $188,390 of breaking D. Wayne Lukas's 1988 record for single-season earnings by a trainer, $17,842,358.

On Thursday, the Frankel-trained Inesperado won the Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf.

On Friday, Heat Haze, a half-sister to Banks Hill, the champion turf female of 2001, won her U.S. debut in an allowance race on the hillside turf course.

Frankel has until Tuesday to reach the mark, and has little margin for error.

He has three starters on Saturday, including You in the $200,000 La Brea Stakes. On Sunday, he has runners in two races - Trilogy in a $48,000 race for $55,000 to $62,500 claimers on the hillside turf course and Blue Steller, Decarchy, and Sumitas in the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap.

On Tuesday, he will start Rolly Polly in the $100,000 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course.

Through Friday, Frankel's runners have earned $17,653,968.

- Thursday's attendance and handle figures failed to keep pace with the corresponding day of the 2001-02 meet.

Thursday's opening day ontrack crowd of 25,677 contributed to an overall handle of $16,470,970. In 2001, the ontrack crowd of 27,713 contributed to an overall handle of $17,206,841.

Santa Anita officials couldn't have asked for a better day on Thursday with clear skies and temperatures in the low 60's.

- There is no racing at Santa Anita on Monday. Racing resumes on Tuesday for a six-day week that runs through next Sunday.