02/02/2004 12:00AM

Pleasantly Perfect aims high


ARCADIA, Calif. - The 2004 campaigns of Pleasantly Perfect and Congaree are likely to take divergent paths after they finished first and last in Saturday's $250,000 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita.

Trainer Richard Mandella said Pleasantly Perfect is bound for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 and might also run in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 27.

Congaree, who finished 8 1/4 lengths behind Pleasantly Perfect in the four-horse field, may spend the rest of his season in sprints, trainer Bob Baffert said.

"I might keep him to one turn," Baffert said. "If we have any chance to get him a championship, it would be going sprints."

A nominee for champion sprinter and champion older horse of 2003, Congaree has won 3 of 5 starts around one turn, with the wins coming in Grade 1 stakes in New York - the seven-furlong Carter Handicap in 2002 and consecutive runnings of the Cigar Mile in 2002 and 2003.

He was sixth in a six-furlong maiden race at Del Mar in 2000, his career debut, and sixth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile last May at Belmont Park.

The win in the Carter Handicap, by 3 1/2 lengths over subsequent sprint champion Aldebaran, was one of Congaree's most impressive performances.

In the San Antonio, Congaree was near the lead until the final turn and faded quickly under jockey Jerry Bailey. The loss stunned Baffert.

"You can draw a line through that race. He didn't show up," Baffert said. "He did this in the Met Mile; he was lackluster. Usually, he would have pulled [Bailey] to the lead, but he never looked comfortable."

Pleasantly Perfect won the San Antonio by four lengths, his first start since winning the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic over 1 1/4 miles last October.

The Santa Anita Handicap and Dubai World Cup are run over 1 1/4 miles.

"It's hard to think of passing the Santa Anita Handicap," Mandella said.

Star Cross, the runner-up in the San Antonio, is a probable for the Santa Anita Handicap, but third-place finisher Fleetstreet Dancer is bound for the Dubai World Cup, said his trainer, Doug O'Neill. Fleetstreet Dancer finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Pleasantly Perfect.

Fleetstreet Dancer won the $2.3 million Japan Cup Dirt at Tokyo Race Course in November. The decision to run Fleetstreet Dancer in Dubai was made after O'Neill consulted with owners Ty and Lee Leatherman.

"They enjoy not only the success of the horse, but the travel," O'Neill said. "We think he can handle the ship."

Another possible for the Big Cap is Chinkapin, the winner of the Pomona Invitational last September who has not started since finishing third in the Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Ten Most Wanted isn't Strub-ready

Saturday's $300,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds is expected to produce starters for the Big Cap. Run over 1 1/8 miles, the Strub is led by During, the winner of the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes on Jan. 10.

Other probables are Buckland Manor, Buddy Gil, Domestic Dispute, Eye of the Tiger, Formal Attire, Saint Buddy, and Toccet.

Ten Most Wanted, the winner of the Travers Stakes and Super Derby last year, is not ready for the Strub, trainer Wally Dollase said.

Ten Most Wanted worked seven furlongs in 1:28.80 on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

"The time was slow but he got a lot out of it," Dollase said. "He kicked in the stretch and galloped out real strongly."

Dollase has not finalized plans for Ten Most Wanted's next start.

Action This Day readies for Sham

Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, will face perhaps six horses in his 2004 debut in Sunday's $75,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Unraced since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, Action This Day will be a strong favorite in a field expected to include Borrego, Master David, Preachinatthebar, Totally Platinum, True Contender, and Winner from Mars. The Sham is run over 1 1/8 miles.

Action This Day, trained by Mandella, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40 on Saturday. He ran the final three furlongs in 35 seconds.

The Sham is one of two stakes for 3-year-olds this weekend. Saturday's card includes the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs. Hosco, undefeated in three starts, will face Consecrate, Mambo Train, Number Juan, and Wimplestiltskin in the San Vicente.

Hosco has won twice at the meeting, an optional claimer on Dec. 26 and the San Miguel Stakes over six furlongs on Jan. 11.

Owner loses license

Horse owner Sean Gerson, who has become prominent in recent months with his success with claimers and large groups in the winner's circle, had his owner's license terminated on Friday for "falsifying an application," according to the California Horse Racing Board.

Gerson, of Lake Forest, Calif., said he omitted dates and incidents on the application pertaining to arrests in the 1990's for what he termed a "financial transgression" with a business partner and a case of credit card fraud.

Gerson, 35, said the credit card fraud occurred when he used a roommate's credit card to buy books when he was a college student. "I did use bad judgment when I was in college," he said. "Have I paid my debt to society? Absolutely."

When asked about the arrest related to the business partner, he described the matter as "no big deal."

CHRB officials declined to comment on Gerson's case, pending an ongoing investigation. A board spokesman would not comment on why Gerson had been licensed since 2002 despite failing to disclose the arrests and convictions.

Gerson said his license was terminated last October for not giving complete information on his application and that he was relicensed on Breeders' Cup Day. On that day, Chinkapin, co-owned by Gerson, started in the Seabiscuit Handicap.

Gerson said he was scheduled to meet with CHRB investigator Mike Kilpack on Wednesday in an effort to regain his license.

According to CHRB officials, owners with terminated licenses can apply for a "fitness for licensing hearing." The process typically takes several days while investigators complete their reports.

If Gerson is not reinstated, his share of 20 horses he co-owns would have to be sold.

Approximately six of the horses are part of the newly formed Gerson Racing Team, which includes other investors. Gerson said last week that he had collected $3,000 each from 32 investors to form limited partnerships that would campaign horses through the year. He said the $3,000 represented total costs for the year, including acquisition of horses and training fees. He said the stable would be disbanded at the end of the year by private sales or when the horses are claimed, and that the partners would be paid the remaining money.

The owner of six veterinary clinics for small animals in California, Gerson said on Sunday that he would refund the shareholders' investment if he were not reinstated.

Two of Gerson's horses were scratched on Friday - Ace's Valentine in the first race and Goosie Goosie in the seventh. Another of Gerson's horses, Damn the Torpedoes, was withdrawn from Sunday's third race at scratch time on Saturday.

Gerson also owns Pocketfullofpesos, the winner of the 2002 California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita.

Mike Mitchell trains for Gerson. Mitchell said that some of his partners will buy out Gerson's share of the horses so that they can continue to be raced.

Tote malfunction

A tote system malfunction caused a 15-minute delay to Sunday's eighth and final race, and another lengthy delay after the race before payoffs were announced.

The system did not promptly reveal payoffs for the Palos Verdes Handicap, the seventh race, resulting in the announcement of a delay for the eighth race. The portable all-electronic toteboard, installed in September and shared by all Southern California racetracks, went blank shortly before the running of the Palos Verdes Handicap and did not resume showing information until several minutes after the race.

After the eighth race, the winning numbers and payoffs from the seventh race were posted on the toteboard briefly and then removed.

After a delay of approximately 15 minutes, the payoffs for the eighth race were announced to the public and shown on television monitors.