03/15/2007 11:00PM

Price Tag makes it look easy


ARCADIA, Calif. - Price Tag did not arrive on these shores until late last fall, after the Breeders' Cup, so her chances of competing for a championship were slim. But she should be in the mix this year, judging not only by her victory in the Matriarch Stakes last fall, but by the ease with which she came back to the races on Friday at Santa Anita.

Price Tag never felt the whip of jockey David Flores while cruising to victory against four rivals in a third-level allowance race. As the 2-5 favorite, she was supposed to win, and she did, but she could not have been more impressive. "Her class is just sticking out a mile," track commentator Trevor Denman said as Price Tag breezed through the stretch. She covered the final quarter-mile in 22.75 seconds while completing one-mile on firm turf in 1:35.91.

"I never really asked her," said jockey David Flores, who rode Price Tag for trainer Bobby Frankel. "She was on the bridle the whole time. I just put her into the bit on the last turn. It was a walk in the park."

Price Tag, 4, is expected to make her next start in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.

Notional and Stormello tune up

Notional and Stormello, two of the top Kentucky Derby prospects based in California, both worked Friday morning at Hollywood Park in preparation for their final Derby prep, which may end up being the same race, the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 31 at Gulfstream Park.

Notional, who won the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds in his last start, drilled six furlongs in 1:13.60 for trainer Doug O'Neill. Exercise rider Sal Santiago was up.

"He went six furlongs from the five-furlong pole and pulled away from his workmate by five the last eighth of a mile," O'Neill said at his barn later in the morning. "He's so athletic, light on his feet. Catlike."

The Florida Derby is definite for Notional's next start. It is among the possibilities for Stormello, who lost a heartbreaker in the Fountain of Youth Stakes two weeks ago. On Friday, Stormello breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.

Bill Currin, who trains and co-owns Stormello, said the Florida Derby, April 7 Santa Anita Derby, and April 14 Arkansas Derby are all under consideration for Stormello's next race.

"I'll decide after this weekend," Currin said.

Mitchell, Aguirre fined for milkshakes

Trainers Mike Mitchell and Paul Aguirre have been fined by Santa Anita's stewards as a result of their horses testing for excessive levels of total carbon dioxide, commonly referred to as a milkshake, the California Horse Racing Board announced.

Mitchell was fined $5,000 for Dynout, who was over the limit following a second-place finish in the sixth race at Hollywood Park last Nov. 19.

The fine was part of a stipulated agreement between the racing board and Mitchell, the board announced. Part of the agreement is that another $2,000 in fines was stayed, provided Mitchell has no additional serious violations of Class 1, 2, or 3 medications for the next year. Total carbon dioxide, or TCO2, is considered a Class 3 violation, less severe than a Class 1 or 2.

In addition, Dynout was disqualified from purse money, and the remaining purse money in the race was redistributed.

Aguirre was fined $3,000 as a result of his horse Jasjonjake testing over the limit after finishing seventh in the second race at Santa Anita on Feb. 5, 2006.

Jockeys pay visit to Sunland

Several local riders, including Garrett Gomez, who is the meet leader, will be absent from Santa Anita on Sunday in order to ride in stakes races at Sunland Park in New Mexico.

The richest race of the day there is the $600,000 WinStar Derby, in which Gomez will ride Forty Grams for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Aaron Gryder is aboard Law Breaker in the same race, and Victor Espinoza rides Song of Navarone.P

Few chances left for 4-year-olds only

With the clock ticking on races solely for 4-year-olds this meet, trainer Nick Hines was eager to run the claimer Dixie's Ruler in Sunday's second race. Dixie's Ruler won for $16,000 on Feb. 1, and was third for $20,000 on Feb. 22, against 4-year-olds. He's in for $25,000 on Sunday, but this might be the last time he can run against his own age group.

"There's only a few races just for 4-year-olds in the next condition book, and then that's it," Hines said Friday morning at Hollywood Park. "They've got to make that transition from a sophomore to a junior."

Hines doubled up in the second race. He also entered Black Jack Joe, a recent claim for $20,000 at Golden Gate Fields.

* The promising runners Peace Chant and Bashert return from lengthy layoffs in Sunday's eighth race, a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs. Peace Chant has not raced since finishing second in the San Vicente Stakes 13 months ago. Bashert, second in the Best Pal Stakes in the summer of 2005 at Del Mar, has not raced since that year's Del Mar Futurity, 18 months ago.

* Bob and John, last year's Wood Memorial winner, worked a mile in 1:38 on Friday morning at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert.

* "Inside Information," HRTV's magazine-style show, this Sunday (5 p.m. Pacific) will have profiles of Mike Willman, Santa Anita's publicity director and the owner of Sunshine Millions Classic winner McCann's Mojave, and trainer Barry Abrams, a survivor of throat cancer.