05/18/2005 12:00AM

Premiums unlikely to rise

Singletary, shown winning the Arcadia Handicap, is being pointed to the Shoemaker BC Mile on May 30.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Workers' compensation insurance premiums paid by California trainers are unlikely to change significantly, and are not expected to rise, when policies are renewed on July 1, according to Ed Halpern, the executive director of California Thoroughbred Trainers.

But Halpern warned that the subsidy generated for policies from an increase in takeout that began last year has yet to be determined and may be cut, which could lead to higher costs for trainers.

Halpern said the base rate for workers' compensation insurance is estimated at $22 per $100 of payroll, a figure that includes the current subsidy of $8.70 per $100. Some trainers pay lower premiums because of a lack of claims.

The subsidy is generated from an increase in takeout of 0.5 percent of all bets other than win, place or show. The subsidy was part of legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2004.

Halpern said lower handle over the last year could result in a smaller subsidy and slightly higher costs to trainers, although final figures will not be known until early June.

"It's hard to tell how much will be available to pay the subsidy," Halpern said.

Halpern said approximately 400 trainers are enrolled in an insurance program with AIG insurance company that was formed by racing interests in 2002. Previously, some trainers held policies with State Fund, a government-controlled insurance carrier that charged higher premiums.

The AIG enrollment is at an all-time high, Halpern said. "That was the idea of the program," Halpern said. "It's not feasible to be with State Fund."

California trainers pay more in workers' compensation insurance than trainers in other states, which has led some horsemen to leave the circuit and has been a sticking point in trying to attract owners and trainers to race in California. In addition, the high premiums have forced California trainers to raise their per-day costs over the last few years.

Singletary sharpens for Shoemaker

Singletary, the winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile, worked six furlongs in 1:14 on Wednesday, preparing for a start in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park on May 30.

Jockey David Flores was aboard for the workout. Trainer Don Chatlos timed the final quarter-mile in 23 seconds. "We wanted to make sure everything went right," he said. "He worked really well.

"Now, I know I can go an easy five-eighths," next week, Chatlos said. "Right now, he's ready."

Singletary has made two starts this year, most recently winning the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita on April 9.

The Arcadia has already proven to be a productive race. Runaway Dancer, who finished fourth, returned to win the Jim Murray Handicap, while Sweet Stepper, who finished last in the field of five, returned to win an optional claimer.

Last year, Singletary finished second in the Shoemaker Mile, behind Designed for Luck,

Singletary leads a list of probable starters for the Shoemaker that includes Buckland Manor, Fast and Furious, King of Happiness, Special Ring, and Whilly.

King of Happiness won the Inglewood Handicap here April 30.

Whilly has not started since finishing second in the $2 million Dubai Duty Free in Dubai on March 26.

Californian next up for Ace Blue

Ace Blue, the gritty winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap last Saturday, remains on course for the $250,000 Californian Stakes on June 18, trainer Paulo Lobo said Wednesday.

Imported from Brazil last year, Ace Blue won his U.S. stakes debut in the Mervyn LeRoy, wearing down Ender's Shadow to win by a head under David Flores.

Run over 1 1/8 miles, the Californian is a sixteenth of a mile longer than the Mervyn LeRoy. The distance of the upcoming race is not a concern to Lobo.

"Flores thinks he will handle it well," Lobo said.

The Californian will mark Ace Blue's longest start. In Brazil, most of his races were over a distance of about a mile. Ace Blue has won 7 of his 14 starts and $162,384.

Hines loses some McIngvale horses

Jim McIngvale and trainer Nick Hines have parted ways, less than a year after Hines received several high-profile runners from the Houston-based owner.

Hines said Wednesday that five horses owned by McIngvale have been shipped to Tom Roberts in northern California, including Charming Colleen, a 3-year-old filly who finished third in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

"Mattress Mac wants instant gratification," Hines said, referring to McIngvale by his nickname. "That's a part of this game. It wasn't a bad experience."

At times, McIngvale and Hines started horses in places that seemed odd. In the Santa Anita Derby, they ran the entry of Allright and Customer, who finished 10th and 11 in the field of 11 at 77-1.

"A trainer is only as good as his horses," Hines said. "He wanted to win a Grade 1. I think the breakup is amicable."

Hines said he still has McIngvale's Bull Market in his 20-horse stable, but that the horse is not ready for a start.

Legal Precedent earns shot at Cinema

Legal Precedent remained unbeaten after two starts with a victory in a $51,000 allowance race for 3-year-olds on Wednesday.

Trainer Ben Cecil said Legal Precedent would be pointed to the $150,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on June 26.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Legal Precedent ($3.60) was less impressive on Wednesday than he was when he won a maiden race by two lengths on April 22. He stalked the pace to early stretch and wore down longtime leader Bahamian Magic to win by a half-length.

Legal Precedent finished 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:42.46.

"Alex has worked him several times and he said he wasn't quite himself," Cecil said. "I'm not disappointed that he won, but I think he's better than he showed."