08/03/2004 12:00AM

Others fill Solis's void

Pico Central wins the Metropolitan Handicap with Alex Solis riding. He will have David Flores aboard for the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. - It was not until Alex Solis went to the sidelines that it became apparent what a job he and agent Scotty McClellan had done lining up top-class mounts for the rest of the year. Now, all those mounts are going to various jockeys who will benefit by Solis's lengthy recuperation for a fractured vertebra.

Last weekend, Mike Smith picked up the mount in the San Diego Handicap on Pleasantly Perfect, a horse Solis rode to victory last year in the Breeders' Cup Classic and this year in the Dubai World Cup. Jerry Bailey will ride Pleasantly Perfect next in the Pacific Classic Aug. 22 at Del Mar. This Sunday at Del Mar, Tyler Baze will replace Solis on Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks winner House of Fortune, who will take on older rivals for the first time in the Grade 2, $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap.

And on Tuesday, trainer Paulo Lobo said David Flores will be the new rider for , who won the Metropolitan Handicap in his last start and is scheduled to make his next start in Del Mar's Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap on Aug. 15.

"We are going to nominate to the Pat O'Brien," Lobo said from his barn at Hollywood Park, where Pico Central worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Sunday. "He had a little cut on his foot after the Met Mile, but he's doing good now."

Solid field for Hirsch

House of Fortune will take on at least seven older fillies and mares in the Hirsch, which will feature the mainstays of this circuit in recent months, including Star Parade and Victory Encounter.

Star Parade, who most recently captured the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park, has been assigned top weight of 119 pounds for the Hirsch. She will give one pound to Victory Encounter, who was a disappointing fourth in the Milady. House of Fortune was assigned 113 pounds, but she gets a weight break because she is racing against older runners.

Others expected for the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch are Elloluv, Indy Groove, Miss Loren, Royally Chosen, and Tucked Away.

Corey Nakatani, the regular rider for Elloluv, will give up the mount in order to ride Rock Hard Ten in Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Souvenir Gift vs. Inspiring

Souvenir Gift, who won Hollywood Park's Landaluce Stakes, and Inspiring, a dazzling winner at Hollywood Park in her lone start, are scheduled to battle for leadership of the West Coast's 2-year-old fillies in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Sorrento Stakes.

Souvenir Gift is unbeaten in three starts. She has yet to be favored. And she may not be favored again on Saturday, since Inspiring was so highly regarded before her debut, then ran to notices.

The other fillies scheduled to run in the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento include Bella Banissa, Hello Lucky, Starleena, Timeintown, and Wise Investor.

The weekend begins with Friday night's $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds going seven furlongs. El Don, who returned from a seven-month layoff to pummel Cal-bred allowance runners by four lengths on July 26, should be favored in a small field. Don'tsellmeshort and Never Surrender are others expected for the Real Good Deal.

Harty thinking grass greener at Spa

After only two weeks of racing and training, Del Mar's turf course is starting to show signs of wear. It also is cut short and is quite firm. The conditions are not ideal for trainer Eoin Harty, who said he is sending his 3-year-old colt Street Theatre to Saratoga for Monday's National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes.

"I'd stay here for the La Jolla - however," Harty said, sweeping his right arm toward the turf course. "I'm just a little scared."

Two horses broke down in the same race on the turf course on Sunday and were euthanized. Several trainers have complained that their horses are emerging from grass races here with puffy ankles.

"I don't know what the problem is with the grass," Harty said. "Here we are two weeks into the meet and it looks like it needs a transplant."

Street Theatre most recently finished second to Toasted in the Arlington Classic. In Monday's race, he will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who that morning will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Taking it slowly with Southern Image

The field for the Pacific Classic is taking shape, but a horse who had been expected to be one of the principals in the race, Southern Image, continues to nurse a nagging injury to his left front foot that has kept him out of action since the Stephen Foster Handicap in June.

"He's been tack-walking," said his trainer, Mike Machowsky. "He should be able to go to the track and jog pretty soon. We're just playing it by ear. He's added a few gray hairs to me. We want to make the Goodwood, but we're not going to cook him, because we want to run him next year."

Among those expected to run in the Pacific Classic are Choctaw Nation, During, Even the Score, Pleasantly Perfect, and Total Impact.

Low payoffs explained

Eyes were raised last Wednesday because of daily double and pick three payoffs that were well below the parlay. First-time starter Kiss Kiss Kiss won the fifth race at $13.40, and then Plenty of Heat paid $11.80 after being placed first via disqualification in the sixth race. Yet the $2 daily double with those two paid only $22.40. And the pick three ending in that sequence, which began with Zam Zam ($21.20) in the fourth race, paid only $103.90 for $1.

Bill Navarro, Del Mar's director of mutuels, said both Del Mar and the state of California's auditor, Bowen-McBeth, looked into the payoffs and found them legit. He said an ontrack bettor had a cold $500 double, and a cold $900 pick three, on the winning combinations. When asked, Navarro did not deny that the bettor was associated with the ownership of Plenty of Heat.

The bettor was fortunate, because he needed a DQ to complete his score.

* Actxecutive and Roman Ruler, both preparing for the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 15, worked Tuesday morning for trainer Bob Baffert. Actxecutive, who was second to the unbeaten Chandtrue in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80, the best time of eight at the distance. Roman Ruler, who was an impressive winner at Hollywood Park of his lone start, zipped five furlongs in 59 seconds.

* Domestic Dispute, who won the Strub Stakes earlier this year, will make his next start in the Pat O'Brien, according to his trainer, Paddy Gallagher.

* After two weeks of the meet, Victor Espinoza leads the jockey standings with 16 victories, one more than Corey Nakatani. Tyler Baze is third with 13. Doug O'Neill leads all trainers with nine wins, one more than Jeff Mullins.