04/02/2007 12:00AM

Potrero Grande shapes up as a dandy


ARCADIA, Calif. - The best race here on Saturday might not be the Santa Anita Derby. The $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs is expected to bring together three of California's best sprinters - Bordonaro, Greg's Gold, and Smokey Stover.

The trainers of Bordonaro and Smokey Stover said Sunday they were leaning toward running in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande rather than shipping to stakes in other parts of the country.

Smokey Stover is unbeaten in three starts this year, including the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita in January. Owned by Harry Aleo, Smokey Stover subsequently won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on March 11.

"He probably ran the best race of his career thus far at Santa Anita," Gilchrist said of the Sunshine Millions. "He showed a liking for the track."

Bordonaro, who breezed six furlongs in 1:12 on Sunday, could ship to Oaklawn Park for the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13, a race the 6-year-old gelding won last year.

"We're leaning toward staying here," trainer Bill Spawr said. "I really like the way he's been training. We don't want to ship."

Spawr said he timed Bordonaro galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25.88 on Sunday.

Spawr expressed concern about how Santa Anita's racetrack would play on Saturday, saying that he thinks the track can be "slower and looser" on most Saturdays. "That would be my concern - that we could get a slower track," he said.

Track superintendent Steve Wood said Sunday that the dirt surface is "roto-tilled" to a depth of six inches on Tuesday afternoons and Friday evenings, and disagreed with Spawr's assessment about the surface on Saturdays.

"I don't think that it is [slower], Wood said. "I don't think that it makes a lot of difference. We've done it like this since September. We try to experiment with more cushion."

Bordonaro has not started since finishing third behind Smokey Stover in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. He won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap here last October.

Greg's Gold won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in 2005. He missed nearly 18 months because of a tendon injury but returned and won an allowance race over six furlongs on Feb. 18. On Monday, trainer David Hofmans was in search of a rider for Greg's Gold.

Hofmans had hoped to use Richard Migliore, but he is booked to ride Bordonaro.

Arcadia should have at least 7

Two other stakes on the Santa Anita Derby program are the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap over a mile on turf and the $100,000 Providencia Stakes over a mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

The seven probable starters in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap are Crested, El Roblar, Hello Sunday, Hendrix, MacDuff, Milk It Mick, and Willow O Wisp. None of them won his last start.

Fast Parade will not run in the Arcadia Handicap. Winner of the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine last fall, Fast Parade underwent surgery in late March to have bone chips removed from a knee, trainer Peter Miller said. Fast Parade is expected to be sidelined for three or four months.

"There is a good prognosis," Miller said. "He's had the chips for quite a while. He's been running with them. He won the Nearctic with them. They just started to bother him recently."

Passified, the upset winner of the China Doll Stakes at 23-1 on March 3, is expected to start in the Providencia Stakes.

Lava Man scopes clean after defeat

Lava Man was given a clean bill of health following his last-place finish in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on Saturday, according to trainer Doug O'Neill.

But the loss has ended any plans for future travel outside of California for the 12-time stakes winner.

O'Neill did not travel to Dubai but was informed by his assistant trainer Leandro Mora that Lava Man did not bleed from the lungs, which O'Neill had initially feared.

"I thought for sure Lava Man bled, but he scoped clean and walked sound," O'Neill said.

The loss, Lava Man's fifth defeat outside of California in the last 18 months, has left O'Neill convinced that the 6-year-old gelding should race exclusively in California.

"We'll never leave California again," O'Neill said. "It's obvious there is a link."

Owned by Jason Wood and the Kenly family's STD Racing, Lava Man has won 16 of 38 starts and $4,679,706. Most of that prize money has come since he was claimed for $50,000 in August 2004.

O'Neill said that there are no plans for Lava Man's next start, which will depend on how he recovers from his latest journey.

"We'll go over him," O'Neill said. "When he's as good as he was before he went over to Dubai, we'll look for a race."

Talamo moving to California

Apprentice jockey Joe Talamo, who won three races at Santa Anita on Saturday, has decided to relocate to California. Ron Ebanks, Talamo's agent, said Monday that Talamo will return from New York on Sunday.

Talamo, the leading rider at Fair Grounds earlier this year, rode at Santa Anita last week, and will ride at Aqueduct this week. Talamo, 17, was expected to spend the spring in New York.

"We've got some business in New York on Saturday, but we are coming back to California to stay Saturday night," Ebanks said from New York. "With Garrett Gomez and Corey Nakatani leaving for Kentucky, there's a void out there. He loved the weather last weekend, and he got a great reception, so we've moved up the timetable."

Talamo has won 4 races from 19 mounts at Santa Anita. On Saturday, he won three times on turf - the first race on Social Climber ($53), the fifth race on Unusual Spring ($4.40), the seventh race on Quest Venture ($10).

Sea of Pleasure jumps into a Grade 3

Sea of Pleasure, who set a two-furlong track record when winning a maiden race for 2-year-olds on Thursday, will make his next start in the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes over five furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 3, according to co-owner Bruno De Julio.

Sea of Pleasure will be trained by Wally Dollase while in Kentucky. The colt is owned by a five-person partnership. In his debut last Thursday, Sea of Pleasure zipped a quarter-mile through the Santa Anita stretch in 20.78 seconds.

Gryder okay after Taikun crash

Jockey Aaron Gryder escaped injury when Taikun crashed through a temporary rail and fell in early stretch of Sunday's sixth race.

Taikun was racing at the back of the field when he lost his action and struck the inside rail. He was reported to have bled, according to track stewards. Taikun bled when he was pulled up in the Daytona Handicap in February.

Taikun was vanned off after Sunday's incident.

* Horse Greeley, the Del Mar Futurity winner, worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds on Monday morning at Hollywood Park as he nears a comeback for trainer Richard Mandella. The time tied for the best of 54 at the distance.

* Becrux, the winner of the Woodbine Mile last year, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Neil Drysdale on Monday at Hollywood.

* Rags to Riches, the Santa Anita Oaks winner, breezed a half-mile in 51 seconds on Sunday for trainer Todd Pletcher, who said Rags to Riches will not race again until the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman