02/18/2005 12:00AM

Pico Central to miss San Carlos

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Pico Central will miss the San Carlos and may train up to the Golden Shaheen.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Pico Central, one of the nation's top sprinters of 2004, will miss a chance to defend his title in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 26 because of a bruised foot, trainer Paulo Lobo said.

The Grade 2 San Carlos was meant to be Pico Central's prep to the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai on March 26. Lobo said Friday that he hopes Pico Central can still make it to the Golden Shaheen, the world's richest sprint, even though he will not have a prep race.

"We are going to try to go straight to Dubai," Lobo said. "He is not going to run in the San Carlos. It's better to pass."

Lobo said Pico Central recently bruised his right front foot, which caused him to miss a workout Tuesday. Lobo is hoping that Pico Central can work Thursday or Friday to remain on schedule for the Golden Shaheen.

"I'm going to see the weather and how it plays next week," he said. "He lost some days off the track."

Lobo is worried about the persistent rain that has plagued the area since late December. Rain began falling in Southern California on Thursday afternoon and is expected to continue until early in the week.

Owned by Gary Tanaka, Pico Central has not started since finishing third in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in late November.

Last year, Pico Central won four major stakes, including the San Carlos Handicap, which is run over seven furlongs. Pico Central, 6, has won 9 of 15 starts and $1,183,145.

Hollywood Park to continue bicarbonate tests

Hollywood Park will conduct bicarbonate testing at its upcoming spring-summer meeting, which runs from April 22 to July 17. The plan is a continuation of the program that is in place at Santa Anita.

Hollywood Park officials told the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday that it would continue the testing program and would enact penalties for positive tests.

At Santa Anita, three trainers have had horses test positive for excessive levels of bicarbonate: Julio Canani, Vladimir Cerin, and Jeff Mullins. As a result, their horses must be placed in a detention barn for 24 hours in advance of their starts. The detention policy is in effect for 30 days following notification of the positive.

The current penalties are being administered by a consortium of racing organizations - the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Thoroughbred Trainers, and Santa Anita. Veterinarian Rick Arthur, a member of the board of directors of the Oak Tree Racing Association, which operates at Santa Anita in the fall, has been a spokesman for the consortium. He recently called the bicarbonate positives "a blight on Southern California racing."

Hollywood Park president Rick Baedeker said there is a question of whether Hollywood Park could legally enforce the same penalties that were issued at Santa Anita, because the Santa Anita penalties are part of an agreement with trainers that was written on the track's stall applications. Hollywood Park will have similar language on its stall applications, Baedeker said.

"We'll continue the program in its entirety," he said.

Baedeker said a meeting with racing officials will be held in advance of the Hollywood Park meeting to discuss the results of bicarbonate testing at Santa Anita.

"We'll have a chance to sit with Rick Arthur and the guys that have been involved and analyze the Santa Anita meeting, and see if they recommend any changes going forward," Baedeker said.

Later this year, the CHRB is expected to enact a bicarbonate rule that calls for fines or suspensions and a loss of purse. At that point, the penalties put in place by the consortium will no longer be in effect.

Three more stakes winners target Big Cap

The $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5 will include the major stakes winners Lundy's Liability, Musique Toujours, and Supah Blitz.

They join a field expected to include 2005 stakes winners Rock Hard Ten, Congrats, and Truly a Judge, as well as Imperialism, who finished second to Rock Hard Ten in the Strub Stakes on Feb. 5, and Borrego, the winner of an allowance race on Feb. 11.

Truly a Judge won the San Gabriel Handicap on Jan. 1, while Congrats won the San Pasqual Handicap a week later. Both races were run at 1 1/16 miles.

Lundy's Liability is trained by Bobby Frankel, who won the Big Cap in 2002 and 2003 with Milwaukee Brew.

Lundy's Liability won the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 6. Musique Toujours and Supah Blitz finished first and fifth in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29. Supah Blitz won the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap last September.

Surface will dictate field for Daytona

There are 11 entrants for Sunday's $75,000 Daytona Handicap, but the race is almost certain not to have that many starters. The Daytona is scheduled for about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, but continued rain would likely force the race to be run on dirt.

If the race is run on turf, top contenders would include Geronimo, the winner of the Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar last August; Just Wonder, a two-time stakes winner in 2003; and the European import Trade Fair. Trade Fair won the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes in Ireland last July over seven furlongs.

If the Daytona Handicap is run on the main track, Indian Country will attract considerable support.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Indian Country won three consecutive races at six and seven furlongs last year before finishing last of nine in the Grade 2 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes on Jan. 15, his first start around two turns.

* There is a nine-race program on Monday, highlighted by the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. The race drew 13 horses, including the stakes winners Intercontinental and Katdogawn, but will be limited to 11 starters.