06/01/2004 11:00PM

Pico Central treated for cut foot


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Pico Central emerged from his victory in Monday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park with a cut above the back of his left front foot. The injury has prevented trainer Paulo Lobo from immediately planning Pico Central's next start.

Pico Central, unbeaten in four starts since arriving from Brazil last fall, was flown from New York to Lobo's base at Hollywood Park on Wednesday. Lobo said the cut most likely occurred at the start, does not require stitches, and has been treated with antibiotics.

The injury and the treatment may prevent Pico Central from starting in the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap, a Grade 1 over seven furlongs at Hollywood on July 3. Pico Central will receive antibiotics for seven days.

"I want to see how the foot is first," Lobo said.

Owned by Gary Tanaka, Pico Central has won an allowance race and three stakes this year - the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita, the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, and the Met Mile. The San Carlos and Carter handicaps were over seven furlongs.

In Brazil, Pico Central won 3 of 8 starts, including Group 1 races over five furlongs and about a mile, both on turf.

"He has speed and he's shown us he'll settle well," Lobo said. "I think between six furlongs and a mile is his best distance."

Lobo said Pico Central is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup program, and he would require a hefty supplemental entry for a start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint over six furlongs at Lone Star Park in October. He declined to speculate on whether Pico Central might be supplemented.

"It's too soon to tell," he said.

Expect shake-up in standings

With leading rider Patrick Valenzuela suspended through June for missing a drug test earlier this year, the jockey standings at Hollywood Park will look considerably different when he returns on July 1 than they do this week.

Through Monday, Valenzuela led all riders with 33 wins, followed by Corey Nakatani (28), Javier Santiago (23), Tyler Baze (20), and Alex Solis (19).

Valenzuela's absence will benefit several jockeys, according to Bob Meldahl, who books mounts on behalf of David Flores and Mike Smith.

"Obviously, it will have an impact," Meldahl said. "Hopefully, I can pick up some. I think it will benefit Nakatani the most and Santiago and [Victor] Espinoza."

Both Meldahl and Ivan Puhich, who books mounts for Baze, said the absence of Valenzuela may not be as lucrative as expected for rival jockeys. Valenzuela compiled his 33 wins from April 25 through Monday, but had only nine wins in a two-week span ending on Monday. Valenzuela did not ride last Friday and Saturday to attend his daughter's high school graduation in Colorado.

"Patrick had slowed down," Puhich said.

On May 18, Valenzuela was suspended by the California Horse Racing Board for four months for missing a mandatory drug test in January but was given credit for three months served earlier this year.

He attempted to get a stay of the suspension in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday to allow him to ride Rock Hard Ten in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, but the stay was denied.

Lydgate preps for Ascot

Lydgate, the winner of the Grade 3 Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on April 30, worked five furlongs in 59 seconds at Santa Anita on Wednesday, the fastest of 34 recorded works at the distance.

Lydgate will make his next start in the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in England on June 15, trainer Eoin Harty said. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud, Lydgate is the only expected American invader at Royal Ascot. The King's Stand Stakes is run over a straight five furlongs on turf.

"I plan on getting one more work in him and then shipping him on the 10th," Harty said.

Lydgate will mark Harty's first starter at Royal Ascot. A former assistant to Bob Baffert, Harty has trained privately for the Maktoum family since 1999. He trained Tempera, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2001.

Recently, Harty expanded his stable to include additional clients.

Earlier post time Saturday

Hollywood Park will have a special first post of 12:50 p.m. Pacific on Saturday.

There are two stakes on Saturday - the $175,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles on turf and the $100,000 Desert Stormer Handicap for fillies and mares over six furlongs.

Lobo said Vencedora Amiga is a confirmed starter in the Honeymoon and said Lovely Rafaela may also start. Both finished second in allowance races in their last start. Lobo won the 2003 Honeymoon with Quero Quero.

The Honeymoon field is led by Ticker Tape, the winner of the China Doll and Providencia stakes at Santa Anita in early spring. She has been second in three other races, including a runner-up finish to Miss Vegas in the Senorita Stakes over a mile on turf on May 15.

Other probable starters are Amorama, Rather Have Rubies, Sagitta Ra, and Western Hemisphere.

In the Desert Stormer, Ema Bovary will attempt to win her 10th consecutive race.

Sunday's program features two stakes - the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares and the Cinderella Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Longtime Del Mar employee dies

Funeral services were scheduled for Thursday for George Bucknam Jr., who died on May 25. He was 82.

Bucknam was the chief sound engineer at Del Mar from 1968 until 1992. He owned and bred Thoroughbreds.

Bucknam's father, George Sr., was the original sound engineer at Del Mar when the track was founded in 1937 by Bing Crosby and Pat O'Brien.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Bucknam's name to the San Diego County Animal Shelter or the Pegasus Foundation.