09/03/2003 11:00PM

Pirate's Bounty no small prize

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The $75,000 Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday may only be a restricted sprint, but the race could have implications for two major stakes at Santa Anita in October - the Ancient Title Handicap and the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Avanzado, the defending champion and the winner of the Palos Verdes Handicap in January, will start as the 120-pound topweight in the six-furlong Pirate's Bounty. A victory could lead to a start in the Grade 1 Ancient Title on Oct. 5.

The Ancient Title could be on the agenda of Yankee Gentleman, who won an optional claimer by 3 1/2 lengths on Aug. 7, his first start of 2003. Yankee Gentleman needs qualifying points from a race such as the Ancient Title to have any chance of earning a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Avanzado is barely eligible for the Pirate's Bounty. The race is restricted to nonwinners of a first-place purse of $50,000 in a stakes since Feb. 1. Avanzado earned $90,000 with his victory in the Palos Verdes on Jan. 26.

In three subsequent starts, Avanzado, 6, finished second in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, sixth in the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, and fourth in the Bing Crosby Handicap here on July 26.

In the Pirate's Bounty, Avanzado will race without blinkers, which he had worn in previous starts this year, and will be ridden by Tyler Baze.

"I think this could be a confidence-builder," trainer Doug O'Neill said of the Pirate's Bounty. "He breaks tardily, and Tyler thinks with the blinkers on it delays his reaction. Now we're going back to the basics."

Avanzado, an Argentine-bred, is not considered a BC Sprint candidate because he was not nominated to the program.

Aside from Avanzado and Yankee Gentleman, the Pirate's Bounty field includes Rushin' to Altar and Ditch Digger, who were second and fifth in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap on Aug. 17.

Valenzuela, Krone go head to head

Patrick Valenzuela has been booked to ride Chester's Choice and Julie Krone has the mount on Woke Up Dreamin in a $50,000 match race over 1 1/16 miles on Sunday.

The race features the two leading riders at this meeting. Through Wednesday, Valenzuela led Krone, 44-39.

Post positions were drawn during a brief ceremony in the paddock Thursday.

Valenzuela rode both horses in their last starts - Chester's Choice to a maiden win over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 18 and Woke Up Dreamin to a troubled fifth in an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 27. Both horses are eligible to be claimed for $300,000 in the match race.

Summer Mayberry trains Chester's Choice, while Bob Baffert trains Woke Up Dreamin.

Bailey replaces Smith on Cooperation

Cooperation, a leading contender for Wednesday's $250,000 Del Mar Futurity, will be ridden by Jerry Bailey, Baffert said.

Mike Smith rode Cooperation to a seven-length win in a maiden race on Aug. 17, but Baffert said he does not intend to use Smith as frequently as he has been using him. Baffert has four horses entered in three races on Saturday, but Smith is not booked to ride any.

"We're not clicking right now," Baffert said. "I'm just spreading it around. I can't fire myself."

Earlier this year, Baffert replaced Smith with Bailey on Vindication, the champion 2-year-old male of 2002. Bailey worked Vindication once in late January but never raced on the colt, who was sidelined by injury and later retired.

A field of six or seven is likely for the Grade 2 Futurity, which is run over seven furlongs. The field is led by Perfect Moon, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes in his last two starts. Other candidates include Capitano, Gulf of Mexico, Listenforthetruth, Minister Eric, and Siphonizer.

Capitano, second in the Best Pal on Aug. 17, is scheduled to work on Saturday at Santa Anita, according to trainer Ray Bell.

Palomar possible for Tates Creek

Tates Creek, the winner of four graded stakes in the past year, is being considered for Sunday's $200,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Unraced since finishing second in a three-way dead heat in the John Mabee Handicap on July 26, Tates Creek will be a standout in the Palomar, if she starts.

Run over 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Grade 2 Palomar will have a short field. The other probables are Garden in the Rain, Magic Mission, Rhiana, and Spring Star.

Frankel said he will make a decision regarding Tates Creek as the race gets closer. He expressed concern over the condition of the turf course, which has deteriorated in recent weeks.

"I'm thinking about running," he said. "I'm worried about that turf course. It's iffy."

A winner of 10 of 15 starts and $1,171,674, Tates Creek won the Noble Damsel and Las Palmas handicaps last fall and the San Gorgonio and Gamely handicaps this year.

Some opposing trainers think Tates Creek would be unbeatable if she starts.

"It will literally be a paid workout for her," said Dan Hendricks, who trains Rhiana.

Rhiana was withdrawn from Thursday's $75,000 Piedra Foundation Handicap. Unraced since finishing second in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park in April, Rhiana has won twice on turf in her career.

Hendricks said the timing and the purse of the Palomar were factors that went into the decision to point for Sunday's race.

"It gives me four more days to train her," he said. "With the short field, why not go for the $200,000?"

Desormeaux suspended for six days

Kent Desormeaux begins a six-day suspension on Saturday for a riding infraction that occurred during a trip to Japan last weekend.

The suspension was issued by Del Mar stewards on Thursday after they reviewed documents from Japanese racing officials. The suspension covers the last four days of the Del Mar meeting, through Sept. 10, and Oct. 1-2, the first two weekdays of Oak Tree at Santa Anita, track stewards said.

Desormeaux declined to comment on the suspension.

He won five races from 13 mounts during two days at Sapporo, Japan, on Aug. 30-31.

Court says Glatt may continue to train

Trainer Mark Glatt received a stay from Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday that enables him to continue training until an appeal is heard on a fine and suspension for medication violations.

On Monday, Del Mar stewards fined Glatt $1,500 and gave him a 15-day suspension for violations related to contraband, medication, and labeling of medication. In early July, a horse trailer owned by Glatt was found to contain syringes and Acepromazine, a tranquilizer. Glatt said that he had the medication and syringes in the vehicle because he used them when he shipped horses.

Glatt appealed the suspension and fine to the California Horse Racing Board earlier this week, but it was denied, forcing the court action.

Glatt has two runners on Saturday - Sweet Frippery in the fifth race and Ganendyl in the ninth.