08/19/2008 11:00PM

One Union up for next test


DEL MAR, Calif. - One Union won a breathtaking five-horse photo finish in the Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar on July 25, finally delivering a stakes win that had eluded the 5-year-old horse.

If One Union can win Sunday's $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf, it could be another career-defining performance. The Grade 2 Del Mar Mile is part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program, providing an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, subject to entry fees.

The BC Mile is on trainer Richard Mandella's mind, more than he would care to admit.

"Right now, I'm hoping he's good enough for this," he said of the Del Mar Mile. "It's easy to add that to the picture."

The Del Mar Mile will be much tougher than the Wickerr. The race will feature Monzante, Whatsthescript, and Storm Military, the first three finishers of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap here July 20, as well as Dark Islander, beaten two noses when third in the Wickerr.

Mandella is not even certain where One Union will be in the race itself. He led from the start in the Wickerr, but has come from well off the pace in past starts.

"I think he was pretty wound up that day," Mandella said of the Wickerr. "I'd like to see him relax. If he wins, he can run however he wants. If he can track and do that, I think he'll be better. I think this is his best distance."

The Del Mar Mile is one of four stakes Sunday, all of which are expected to have large fields.

Midnight Lute, the 2007 champion sprinter, makes his 2008 debut in the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap at seven furlongs. Dearest Trickski, claimed for $32,000 at this meeting last year, tries for her fourth stakes win in the last eight months in the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Purse distribution hearing postponed

A hearing regarding the redistribution of a portion of the purse of a race from Aug. 3 for a medication violation was postponed Wednesday after an attorney involved in the case asked for a postponement, according to Del Mar steward Tom Ward.

Pathbreaking, trained by Jeff Mullins, tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide, according to a statement released last week by the California Horse Racing Board. Pathbreaking finished third in a $35,000 to $40,000 claiming race at a mile on turf, earning $5,520. An overage for total carbon dioxide, or a high level of bicarbonates, is classified as a Class 2 violation, subject to a redistribution of purse and a possible fine or suspension for a trainer.

According to Ward, attorney Karen Murphy, representing Mullins, asked for a postponement until the fall. Mullins declined to comment on the case Wednesday. He also declined to confirm whether he had hired Murphy.

Mullins may face a severe sanction for the penalty.

Earlier this year, Mullins served a 20-day suspension for an excessive level of the anesthetic mepivacaine found in one of his starters at Hollywood Park in 2006. Mullins was given a 90-day suspension for that infraction, but 70 days were stayed provided that Mullins did not violate any racing board rules during a one-year probationary period. The probationary period is still in effect.

Shadow of Illinois tries synthetic track

Anthony Saavedra has suffered a variety of injuries caused by Shadow of Illinois, the 8-year-old gelding that is part of his four-horse stable. There is the sore foot from the time Shadow of Illinois stepped on him earlier this fall, and the callus-like scar on the tip of the middle finger on his left hand where he was bitten by the gelding.

"He acts like a 3-year-old these days," Saavedra said. "He's tough. Good thing they cut him when he was a yearling."

Saavedra can withstand the injuries. He is glad to have Shadow of Illinois in the barn. Shadow of Illinois won the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in 2005, but missed nearly 29 months of racing from March 2006 until earlier this month because of a tendon injury.

Shadow of Illinois was beaten a neck in his comeback earlier this month and starts in an optional claimer for $62,500 on the main track in Friday's sixth race. Saavedra would prefer a turf race, but wants to start Shadow of Illinois before the meeting ends on Sept. 3.

"I don't know if I'm doing the right thing, but we don't have an option," Saavedra said. "He's trained well on the synthetic, so we'll give it a shot. There is a lot of speed and maybe it will set up."

Saavedra doesn't think there will be a claim submitted Friday.

"The $62,500 is a lot of money for an 8-year-old gelding," he said.

Bellocq doing historic mural for Del Mar

Pierre Bellocq, the artist better known as Peb, has been commissioned by Del Mar to do an oversized mural spanning the history of the track. It is scheduled to be completed before the start of next summer's season here.

Bellocq has done similar work at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs. He had a miniature sketch of the work with him last weekend and was filling a sketch pad with caricatures of others he may add to the piece.

"It will be 30 feet long and six feet high," Bellocq said. "It will have Bing Crosby, W.C. Fields, Dorothy Lamour, Betty Grable, Jimmy Durante, the match race with Seabiscuit, from the beginning of Del Mar to today. Horses, jockeys, owners, trainers. It will be at the entrance of the clubhouse."

Bellocq said his longtime friendship with Joe Harper, Del Mar's president, chief executive officer, and general manager, led to the project.

"He saw a work I have at Gallagher's restaurant in New York," Bellocq said.

The Gallagher's mural features many New York celebrities and sports figures, but most prominent, in the center of the piece, is Joe Hirsch, the former executive columnist for Daily Racing Form.

Oceane Music injured and retired

The first start in North America for Oceane Music turned out to be her last. Oceane Music, unbeaten in three starts in her native France, has been retired after injuring a tendon when finishing eighth of 10 on Saturday in the Gradeo1 Del Mar Oaks on turf.

"She bowed pretty badly," trainer John Shirreffs said.

Oceane Music was privately purchased before leaving France by owner Marsha Naify.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman