09/27/2004 12:00AM

Oak Tree experiments with pick five

Benoit & Associates
Island Fashion is expected to return from a four-month layoff against a field with seven other 2004 stakes winners in Sunday's Lady's Secret.

ARCADIA, Calif. - An already crowded menu of multi-win bets will grow on Wednesday when the Oak Tree Racing Association begins its annual fall meeting at Santa Anita with a $1 pick five.

The daily bet will cover the final five races and is designed to capture the existing interest on the $2 pick six and the $1 pick four, which cover the final six and four races.

The pick five may have a built-in advantage.

In recent years, the pick four has grown in popularity to the point that handle occasionally exceeds that of the pick six. Those statistics are reversed when the pick six features a carryover.

There will be no carryover provision for the pick five. The bet is considered to be "an experiment" by Sherwood Chillingworth, Oak Tree's executive vice president.

"The issue is, 'Will it impact the pick six?' and I don't think it will," he said. "It may impact the pick four. That's an issue we'll find out pretty soon."

Chillingworth declined to estimate the handle for the new bet.

"No one has ever done it before. We have no yardstick to go by," he said. "It truly is an experiment."

Magna Entertainment offered a weekly $2 pick five on Saturdays earlier this year, showcasing races run at that company's racetracks, which include Santa Anita. The bet ran from Jan. 31 to April 17, with payoffs ranging from a low of $1,074.20 to a high of $205,703.

Magna guaranteed a minimum pool of $500,000. Actual pools ranged from $457,698 to $621,821.

The pick four and pick six will have their own promotions during the meeting. Chillingworth said the pick four will have a guaranteed pool of $400,000 this Saturday and Oct. 9 and a $500,000 guaranteed pool on Oct. 16, California Cup Day. There will also be a $1 million guaranteed pick six pool on Oct. 16.

Oak Tree hosted the Breeders' Cup last fall, but this week's five-week meeting is highlighted by preps for the Breeders' Cup at Lone Star on Oct. 30 over the first two weekends and by the California Cup.

Last year's meeting was marred by a purse cut after the Breeders' Cup, forcing the cancellation of the $200,000 Las Palmas Handicap. This year, the Las Palmas is worth $150,000 and is being run on Oct. 31, the final day of the meeting.

Chillingworth said he expects business to be strong through October, boosted to some extent by the simulcast of the Breeders' Cup program on the final weekend.

"I think we'll be in good shape this year because the Breeders' Cup is the last Saturday," he said. "It seemed like the air went out of the balloon last year after the Breeders' Cup. Personally, I'm very optimistic."

Kelly's Princess tepid choice

Wednesday's $75,000 Cover Gal Stakes for 2-year-old statebred fillies has drawn a weak field. The seven-furlong Cover Gal features six entrants, three of whom are still maidens.

The most accomplished filly in the field is Kelly's Princess, the winner of the Solano County Juvenile Filly Stakes in Vallejo in July. Owned by a partnership and trained by Adam Kitchingman, Kelly's Princess is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 1.

She was second along the inside in the early stages but faded to finish 11 lengths behind Coastal Strike.

"She shouldn't have run that badly," Kitchingman said.

While Kitchingman is convinced that Kelly's Princess is better than her last start, he is worried that she is coming to the end of an active campaign that has included two wins in six starts.

"The distance is not to my liking," he said. "I'd prefer 5 1/2 or six furlongs, but the race came up kind of weak. This will probably be her last race until the end of the year."

Aside from Kelly's Princess and the three maidens - Dark Beauty, Discrete, and Lady Truffles - the field consists of Del Mar maiden winners Home Ice and Short Route. Short Route, fourth in the Generous Portion Stakes, was supplemented for $1,500.

Island Fashion preps for Lady's Secret

Earlier this year, Island Fashion seemed to have the credentials to challenge for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding older filly or mare. A win in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in January and a game second against males in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March vaulted Island Fashion into the national picture.

The momentum dissipated after two losses - a fourth in the Apple Blossom Handicap and a 16th in a $1.6 million race against males on turf in Japan in June.

Sunday, Island Fashion returns after a four-month break in the $250,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

The race is likely to draw an outstanding field, including Dream of Summer, Elloluv, Musical Chimes, Royally Chosen, Star Parade, Summer Wind Dancer, and Victory Encounter, all of whom are stakes winners this year.

Musical Chimes, the winner of the John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in July, must be supplemented for $10,000. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Musical Chimes has never started on turf in 15 career races.

Island Fashion can regain some of her reputation with a victory. Sunday, she worked six furlongs in 1:11.60, the fastest of 16 recorded works at the distance.

"She's 100 percent," trainer Marcelo Polanco said. "I just need to keep her happy for the weekend."

The Lady's Secret is one of six Breeders' Cup prep races to be run this weekend.

Saturday's program is led by the $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf and the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

The probable starters for the Yellow Ribbon Stakes are Amorama, Cozie Advantage, Good Student, Katdogawn, Light Jig, Noches de Rosa, Notting Hill, Stage Shy, and Tangle.

The Goodwood field is led by the Hollywood Gold Cup winner, Total Impact. His opponents will include Gondolieri, Lundy's Liability, Supah Blitz, Touch the Wire, and Truly a Judge.

Pleasantly Perfect, the top contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic, will not start. He worked seven furlongs in 1:26.80 on Sunday.

Sweet Catomine, the winner of the Del Mar Debutante in August, heads Saturday's $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

Aside from the Lady's Secret, Sunday's program includes the $250,000 Clement Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles and the $200,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

Roman Ruler, the beaten favorite in the Del Mar Futurity, is a standout in the Norfolk, which will have a small field.

Gomez back after short stay in jail

Jockey Garrett Gomez was released from an Orange County jail on Monday and will resume riding at Santa Anita on Wednesday, his agent, Jim Pegram, said Monday.

Gomez was jailed because of a "missed correspondence" with a probation officer. "They had a bad address for him," Pegram said.

Pegram said Gomez was held until a judge was able to hear his case on Monday.

"He's been released," Pegram said. "Everything is fine. He will be at work on Wednesday morning."

Gomez, who returned to riding on Sept. 10 after an absence of nearly two years caused by substance abuse problems, had 4 wins from 32 mounts at Fairplex Park. He has four mounts on Wednesday at Santa Anita.

* Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale married Shawn Dugan on Friday evening at Kew Gardens in London, England. It is the second marriage for Drysdale, the first for Dugan. Among those in attendance at the wedding were top British trainers John Gosden and Michael Stoute.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman