04/08/2003 11:00PM

Providencia's loss is Oaks' gain


ARCADIA, Calif. - Atlantic Ocean, the only graded stakes winner nominated to the $150,000 Providencia Stakes, will skip the 1 1/8-mile grass race Sunday at Santa Anita, and instead train up to the May 2 Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday that Atlantic Ocean, 5 for 11 with Grade 3 wins on dirt and turf, would pass the Providencia.

"I don't think Atlantic Ocean will run," Baffert said, adding that Atlantic Ocean's owner, The Thoroughbred Corporation, would have another horse in the Providencia.

Baffert was referring to likely Providencia favorite Major Idea, a daughter of Cherokee Run trained by Neil Drysdale. Major Idea has won four races and $194,110 from eight races, has won her last three starts, and acts like she will run all day.

"She's a pretty darn nice filly, and she just keeps getting better and better," said Richard Mulhall, The Thoroughbred Corporation's racing manager.

A small field of 3-year-old fillies is expected for the Providencia. Likely to run are Major Idea, Makeup Artist, Star Vega, and No Kings. Katdogawn also may run. The decision to skip the race with Atlantic Ocean means two Baffert-trained fillies will run in the Kentucky Oaks following layoffs of nearly two months. Santa Catarina, whom Baffert is pointing to the Oaks, won her only start this year March 12; Atlantic Ocean finished second in her last start, the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks March 8.

Singletary could face early challenge

Academy Road stakes winner Singletary will have company on the lead when he starts as one of the favorites Saturday in the $150,000 La Puente Stakes. Our Bobby V., who has set the early pace in his last four starts, will try grass for the first time in the one-mile La Puente. Our Bobby V. set the pace and tired to finish fourth March 1 in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes, then scratched from the San Pedro Stakes March 22 when he got sick. Our Bobby V. has worked well on grass under jockey Tyler Baze, according to trainer Bill Spawr.

"He's got action like turf action, and Tyler said he handled it really well when he worked him on it," Spawr said.

Our Bobby V. was timed in 49.80 seconds for a half-mile turf workout Wednesday. Our Bobby V. scored runaway sprint wins Oct. 6 and Nov. 17, but has tired in the final furlong in both of his starts around two turns this year.

The La Puente field is taking shape with these starters: Just Wonder, Our Bobby V., Singletary, Slew City Citadel, Steelaninch, and Urban King. An unspecified injury has knocked Nation Wide News out of the race. A Souvenir Copy colt, Nation Wide News scored an impressive turf sprint win March 8, but trainer David Hofmans said Wednesday that Nation Wide News will be out of action until Del Mar. Nation Wide News has been turned out at Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona.

Madame Pietra back in training

Madame Pietra, the top California-based sprint mare, is fresh and ready to resume serious training. A 6-year-old mare, she scored her sixth win from 15 starts Jan. 25 when she won the $250,000 Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream Park, and then was given a brief respite.

"She took the ship [to and from Florida] pretty hard, so I gave her a freshening," trainer Howard Zucker said.

The first goal for Madame Pietra is the Grade 3 Desert Stormer, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares June 7 at Hollywood Park. She won three sprint stakes races last year in California.

Madame Pietra, owned by Carl Grether, has earned $373,135 without starting in a graded stakes race.

The Zucker-trained Crafty C.T., was scheduled to ship Wednesday to Kentucky for Sunday's Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Truly a Judge puzzles connections

Truly a Judge returned to his Santa Anita base with nothing more than a bruised ego after finishing seventh as the odds-on favorite Saturday in the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap. Trainer David Bernstein was puzzled by the inexplicably dull effort in which Truly a Judge was beaten by 16 lengths.

"It's nothing major, I can tell you that," Bernstein said, adding that in hindsight he would have shipped sooner than he did to Sunland. The race was won by the Southern California-based Night Patrol, trained by Nick Canani. As for Truly a Judge, Bernstein said he will be freshened, and return at Hollywood Park.

* Domestic Dispute may ship to Kentucky, after all. Trainer Bob Baffert said Domestic Dispute will be considered for the one-mile Derby Trial April 26. "He's got that one little run; we're still trying to figure him out," Baffert said.

Domestic Dispute finished fifth in the Santa Anita Derby.