03/14/2003 1:00AM

Pincay's son urges dad to retire


ARCADIA, Calif. - Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. is one week into an eight-week recovery period for a serious neck injury suffered in a spill at Santa Anita March 1.

The injury, two fractures to the second cervical bone in his neck, threatens to end his remarkable career, highlighted by 9,530 wins, the most by any jockey ever.

While Pincay, 56, has not stated whether he will attempt a return to riding, his son, Laffit III, a television commentator for Horse Racing Television at Santa Anita, is urging his father to call it a career.

Speaking Thursday at Santa Anita, Pincay said his father is comfortable at home and becoming more comfortable wearing a halo brace that immobilizes his head and facilitates healing.

But he said the risk of further injuries is enough for his father to retire.

"In my opinion, what else can you ask of him?" Pincay said. "At the most, he was going to ride two or three more years. He's been riding for the last seven or eight years because it's been fun. If he comes back, we'll be holding our breath every time he rides.

"He doesn't know what he'll do. This could give him an opportunity to walk away. It's disappointing and he'd be the first to say that.

"As far as the family is concerned, we feel he has nothing to prove. Regardless of what he decides, we'll stand by him 100 percent."

Pincay was thrown from Trampus Too in a hillside turf sprint March 1 after his mount clipped heels with a rival and fell as the field crossed over the dirt track and onto the main turf course.

Pincay was not hospitalized until several days later when he complained of persistent neck pain. Further examinations revealed the extent of his injuries.

"He's getting better day by day and acclimating to having the halo on," Pincay said. "It takes some adjusting. He's resting comfortably. He is up and around the house and able to move without assistance.

"He will regain full mobility. There is a lot of life after racing."

She can go for turf or dirt

Regardless of which surface is used, Icantgoforthat is ready for Sunday's $100,000 Irish O'Brien Stakes at Santa Anita, according to her trainer, Steve Knapp.

With rain expected over the weekend, the Irish O'Brien for California-bred fillies and mares may be moved from about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course to 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

Icantgoforthat is proven on the main track - she won the Survive Stakes for statebred fillies and mares Jan. 1 - but has never started on turf.

"She's bred for the turf," Knapp said. "She worked on it tremendously a few days ago. I think she'd like the mud. She has little tiny feet."

Some of the fillies and mares in the Irish O'Brien have run well on both surfaces. Hadl won a $62,500 claiming race on the hillside course Jan. 1, and was stakes placed on the northern California fairs circuit last year.

Sweetcakesanshakes won a $100,000 claiming race against open company on the hillside Feb. 22. An 8-year-old with a history of career interruptions, she has won sprints on the main track.

If the race is transferred from turf to dirt, Icantgoforthat must contend with Jetinto Houston and Kitty on the Track. Jetinto Houston won a six-furlong allowance race by 11 lengths at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 7, leading throughout. She has since been acquired by Gary Barber and the Team Valor partnership and has switched trainers, going from Pico Perdomo to Jenine Sahadi.

Kitty on the Track was third in the Survive Stakes two months ago, but has since been a disappointment, finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap and sixth in the Richmond Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

Icantgoforthat is also coming off a loss, having finished ninth in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park Jan. 25. Knapp blames himself for that performance.

"I think I overtrained her," Knapp said. "She worked in 45 [and one-fifth for a half-mile] before we went to Florida, and I think that was too fast. She's definitely ready."

Fair officials seek more funding

Los Angeles County Fair officials said Friday that they hope to avoid closing Fairplex Park for training later this year after being notified by the Southern California Off-track Wagering Inc.'s stabling and vanning committee that they will not receive additional funding as an offtrack training center.

The committee met Thursday to finalize a budget for offtrack stabling for 12 months starting May 1. According to committee chairman John Van de Kamp, the president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, Fairplex Park will receive $1.7 million and San Luis Rey Downs will receive $1.5 million.

Fair officials were hoping to receive $2.3 million to allow for year-round training. Last year, the facility was closed for a few months in the spring.

San Luis Rey Downs charges a stall rent fee to horsemen to make up for a lack of funding. Fairplex Park does not charge horsemen a training fee.

George Bradvica, the Fairplex Park equine manager, said he hopes that additional starters from Fairplex Park at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita, will convince the stabling and vanning committee to increase the funding.

"This is about three months shy of what we need," he said.

"We've told our horsemen that we have not been funded to stay open for the full year. One thing that the TOC has said to us is if we can increase the number of starts they will increase our funding. We're aiming to start more horses per day. We believe that will allow us to have more funding."

Nightly replay program nears

Van de Kamp said the racetracks are near an agreement with KDOC to air a nightly replay program at 7:30 p.m. on over-the-air television in the Los Angeles area.

KDOC (Channel 56) currently airs a replay program on Saturday and Sunday evenings. A nightly replay program is offered on the Fox Sports Net cable network, but is shown at 1:30 a.m. the morning after the races.

"I think we are very close to it," Van de Kamp said. "I think it could start next week. KDOC wants to get back into this area and has made pretty good offers. The sooner, the better as far as we're concerned."

A replay program has not been shown regularly since late last year after KDOC increased costs for television time.

Van de Kamp said part of the funding for the program would come from the California Marketing Commission, which was launched in 1999 as a way to promote the sport.

Major Idea aimed for Providencia

Major Idea won her second stakes race of the meet in Thursday's $83,800 Some Sensation Stakes. She is expected to try for a stakes hat trick in the $150,000 Providencia Stakes April 13.

In the Some Sensation Stakes at one mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies, Major Idea ($3.80) rallied from fifth to win by a half-length over Star Vega. Trained by Neil Drysdale for The Thoroughbred Corp., Major Idea won the Blue Norther Handicap in January. Last year, she finished third in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes, her only appearance in a graded stakes race.

* Car Lady won the season's first race for juvenile fillies Friday at Santa Anita. Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Car Lady ($12.80) ran erratically through the middle of the two-furlong race, but pulled away to win by two lengths over Sweet Nine in 21.76 seconds. Car Lady races for Bill Aubrey and trainer Jose Corrales.

* Medaglia d'Oro, preparing for a start in the $6 million Dubai World Cup March 29, worked seven furlongs in 1:26.80 at Hollywood Park Friday.