03/19/2002 12:00AM

Powerful Bella Bellucci ready to race


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - While all the focus of late has been on the 3-year-old colts, a filly who figures to be among the leaders of her division this year has been training sharply for her return. Bella Bellucci, last seen finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has put in a series of excellent workouts of late, and the best might have come Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park.

With exercise rider Marcelino Olguin sitting absolutely still, Bella Bellucci toyed with a workmate and galloped out powerfully while covering six furlongs in 1:12.80, the best time of 10 at the distance. The time was surprisingly fast, considering Bella Bellucci was moving effortlessly.

"She never looks like she's doing much," said her trainer, Neil Drysdale. "She's a good work horse. She went well. She's bigger, stronger, and more mature" as a 3-year-old.

Bella Bellucci is scheduled to make her comeback in Sunday's $75,000 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita, a six-furlong sprint that is one of two preps Drysdale will use to prepare Bella Bellucci for a run in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks. Because her regular rider, Gary Stevens, will be in Dubai this weekend, Mike Smith has picked up the mount on Bella Bellucci in the Santa Paula. Both Stevens and Smith have the same agent, Brian Beach.

Bella Bellucci won the first two starts of her career before the Breeders' Cup, in which she was mired on a dead rail. Before returning to training, she was freshened at a farm in Southern California run by Laura Cotter.

Werblin back to sprints

Trainer Eduardo Inda was willing to give Werblin a chance to go two turns. But after the colt finished third in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes on March 2, the dream of the Kentucky Derby was replaced by the certainty that Werblin is best sprinting. So, Werblin will return to his favorite game in Saturday's $75,000 San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

"He's going to run short for now," Inda said. He added jokingly, "Next year we might run in the San Juan Capistrano. You never know."

The San Juan Capistrano is the longest race of the Santa Anita season, at about 1 3/4 miles on turf.

Valenzuela on a roll

With seven victories last week, including the San Luis Rey Stakes with Continental Red, jockey Pat Valenzuela is one of the hottest riders at Santa Anita. The often-troubled jockey has had no hiccups since returning from an absence of nearly two years. Valenzuela can ill afford any setbacks, because of the terms under which he was relicensed.

Valenzuela is tested frequently by the California Horse Racing Board, and must attend meetings with the Winners Foundation, a support group for racetrackers dealing with substance abuse issues, run by Don Murray. The terms were worked out between the CHRB, Murray, and Valenzuela's attorney, Don Calabria. Valenzuela's jockey agent is Nick Cosato.

"I have to thank Don Calabria, Don Murray, the CHRB, and my agent for really helping me," Valenzuela said.

The $250,000 San Luis Rey marked Valenzuela's biggest victory since his latest comeback.

"It feels great," Valenzuela said. "I never thought I'd be doing this well at this point in the meet. And now I'm going to Dubai. I couldn't have dreamed of this."

Valenzuela was scheduled to go to Dubai to ride Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Western Pride, who was the lone United States representative in Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup until Tuesday, when the horse was sold to a Saudi Arabian prince. His status on Western Pride is not clear, but Valenzuela also rides Echo Eddie in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at six furlongs.

Also riding in Dubai on Saturday is Gary Stevens, whose mounts include Caller One, the defending champion in the Golden Shaheen. Stevens also rides Total Impact in the United Arab Emirates Derby and Grey Memo in the Godolphin Mile.

Hollywood hires Eidson

Dan Eidson was announced on Tuesday as the new stakes coordinator and assistant racing secretary at Hollywood Park, replacing Doug Bredar, who recently accepted the position of director of racing and racing secretary at Churchill Downs.

Eidson, 51, was the racing secretary for five years at Golden Gate Fields, then held the same position for one year at Delaware Park. His supervisor is Hollywood's racing secretary, Martin Panza.

Eidson joined the racing department after first working as an assistant trainer and a trainer.

* Beat Hollow is heading to Fair Grounds for Sunday's $700,000 Explosive Bid Handicap. Alex Solis rides for trainer Bobby Frankel.

* Another jockey who will be out of town on Sunday is Smith, who rides Sarafan for Drysdale in the Explosive Bid. Drysdale is not sending Irish Prize to that race. Instead, Irish Prize, who had an aggressive winter campaign at Santa Anita, will be freshened for the upcoming meeting at Hollywood Park, Drysdale said.

* Skimming, winner of the last two runnings of Del Mar's Pacific Classic, worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Hollywood Park in preparation for a return to racing this summer at Hollywood Park. "He's doing good. He looks great," said his trainer, Bobby Frankel.