03/11/2004 1:00AM

O.K. Mikie all set for El Camino


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Jerry McArthur admitted to being nervous before O.K. Mikie ran second in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Derby, but, he said, "I'm okay," heading into Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby.

The Golden Gate Derby was the first $100,000 race of McArthur's career. O.K. Mikie, who is owned by Charles Lo, came out of that race to win the $75,000 Golden State Mile.

"Charles is on pins and needles, but I've done my job and now we'll let Mikie run his race," McArthur said.

"He came out of the Golden State Mile excellent, and he's been training good. I don't think Mikie has run his best race, and more distance will help him."

McArthur claimed O.K. Mikie for $25,000.

"We talk about that all the time," McArthur said. "I said when we got him, I hoped he'd keep improving, and he has. A $25,000 claimer going in a $200,000 race, we're pretty fortunate."

McArthur hasn't done anything different with the colt than he has done with most of his other horses, he said, "except for maybe extra carrots."

"I'm not changing anything. What we've been doing, it's working, and he's happy," he said.

The lack of pace in the 1 1/16-mile El Camino Real could be a problem, but McArthur doesn't want to try to push the colt early. He said the one time that was tried the colt didn't respond well.

"In the last race, the pace wasn't that fast, and he still came on pretty well," McArthur said.

The El Camino Real result will help McArthur map his plans for the colt. He said the Santa Anita Derby is on the horizon.

"He has to run big," McArthur said. "He has to be in the money to be in the Santa Anita Derby. Then we'll find out exactly what we have. That will be the acid test."

Hollendorfer has done it before

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer knows that running fillies against colts is not always the wisest move. But he also remembers saddling Pike Place Dancer to defeat males in the California Derby.

Hollendorfer has entered Wildwood Flower for owner John Gunther in the El Camino Real in part because it is a logical spot with a $200,000 purse compared to the $75,000 purse of last weekend's California Oaks here.

"He said that he would like to try the El Camino because it had a bigger purse," Hollendorfer said. "The competition level couldn't be any greater than the filly that won the race last week."

The filly, House of Fortune, was a 17-length winner in the Oaks.

Wildwood Flower will make her first start since flipping in the paddock at Santa Anita before the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Feb. 15.

"She was fine the next day. Hopefully, it was fluke. Something set her off," Hollendorfer said. "She goes to the paddock every day as do all my horses at Golden Gate Fields."

Ringaskiddy skips Golden Gate BC

The field for Sunday's $125,000, Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap dropped to eight when Juan Garcia, trainer of Grade 1 winner Ringaskiddy, opted to run in a Cal-bred race at Santa Anita instead of shipping north.

The Golden Gate BC, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, has a solid field with Epicentre, who won his last start after being disqualified from a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup, the highweight at 121 pounds. Soud and All the Boys, both coming off victories, and Gent, who lost by a head to Epicentre in his last start, will also run.

* Jockey Omar Figueroa will miss four to six weeks because of a fractured left collarbone suffered when his mount B. Good Hero broke down in Wednesday's fifth race. Jockey Gary Baze suffered scrapes and bruises when thrown from Echoman while trying to avoid the accident near the quarter pole. Baze was okay.

* Trainer Bob Hess Jr. had a van ready Wednesday to ship Dwango north for the El Camino, but decided against running.

No reason was offered for the decision, but Hess said the colt had a blood problem after his last race.