04/14/2005 11:00PM

Purses at Hollywood meet get boost

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Star Over the Bay will make her next start in the Singapore Airlines International Cup in Singapore on May 15.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Hollywood Park has made slight increases in purses for maiden special weight, allowance races, and starter allowance races for the spring-summer meeting that begins Friday.

The increase is part of a $450,000 boost in prize money that is available this year after a debt in the purse pool was retired in 2004, according to racing secretary Martin Panza.

"Last year, we had an overpayment we made up," he said. "We were able to make adjustments."

In some cases, the increases put Hollywood Park purses near the levels offered at Santa Anita this spring. At Hollywood Park, a maiden race for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles on turf will have a purse of $46,000, a gain of $1,000 over 2004. That is the same purse for such a race at Santa Anita.

Starter allowance races for former maiden claimers who have not won two races have had their purses increased $2,000, to $29,000. A maiden race for California-bred 2-year-olds over 4 1/2 furlongs has been increased $2,000, to $45,000.

Offering prize money similar to that at Santa Anita is important for Hollywood Park, which struggles to attract full fields.

"Many purses are the same or right there" compared to Santa Anita, Panza said. "That hasn't happened in a long time."

Panza said the changes were restricted to starter allowance, allowance races, and maiden races at the request of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. The TOC negotiates with the state's racetracks on purse contracts.

Valenzuela in control of standings

Patrick Valenzuela scored four wins Thursday to take an eight-race lead in the jockey standings with four days of the meeting remaining.

Thursday, Valenzuela won the second aboard Swiss Lady ($6.40) and swept the three turf races in the program, winning the third on Agata ($4.20), the fifth on Leo Getz ($15.20), and the seventh on Dreams Come True ($4.20).

His status as top rider is all the more remarkable considering he did not ride the first three weeks of the meeting while fighting a suspension from 2004.

Valenzuela began riding Jan. 15, cracked the top 10 on Jan. 26, made the top five on Feb. 9, and tied Tyler Baze for the lead on April 7. Through Thursday, Valenzuela had 63 winners, while Baze had 55. Rene Douglas was third with 54.

"I think this year was a gift," Valenzuela said. "It was unbelievable."

Valenzuela was to miss Saturday's program at Santa Anita to ride Wild Desert in the $1 million Arkansas Derby. He has seven mounts on Sunday's 11-race program, including Hoh Buzzard in the $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap.

Valenzuela's career has been interrupted several times by suspensions for substance abuse problems. His latest comeback has amazed veteran trainers such as Jerry Fanning. Valenzuela's status as leading rider has left Fanning wondering what the jockey could have done without the interruptions.

"He'd have broken every record there was," Fanning said. "He wants to ride every race. It's amazing."

Valenzuela says he does have one piece of unfinished business. He has yet to find a sponsor for his riding breeches. Valenzuela offered an auction last month through Ebay.com for the advertising rights to his pantleg for $15,000. The auction drew a bid from an offshore betting site.

After consulting with track stewards, who must approve such advertising, Valenzuela canceled the agreement. He lowered the minimum bid to $10,000, but has found no takers.

Eye Pea Oh comes out of race fine

Eye Pea Oh, a 9-year-old gelding who was pulled up shortly after the start of Thursday's sixth race, emerged from the incident without a serious injury, according to new trainer Mark Glatt.

But Eye Pea Oh's quick departure from the race was no consolation to bettors, who made Eye Pea Oh the 2-1 favorite in a field of seven.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Eye Pea Oh broke from the rail and was pulled up less than 100 yards into the race, over 1 1/16 miles. He was vanned off, but was not hurt, according to Glatt, who claimed Eye Pea Oh for $12,500 on behalf of Richard McDonnell of Seattle.

"I didn't see anything on the horse that would warrant being pulled up," Glatt said. "He's an old warrior who has his lumps and bumps, but he's a sound racing horse."

According to track steward Tom Ward, Nakatani said that Eye Pea Oh warmed up "a little choppy but that he warmed up out of it." Nakatani also told Ward that "after the fifth stride, he started to shorten up."

Nakatani rode at Keeneland on Friday and was not available for comment.

Trainer Mike Mitchell, who claimed Eye Pea Oh for $40,000 last August, was in Florida on Thursday. He watched Eye Pea Oh warm up on television and said he was not pleased. "I watched him jog off, and he looked really, really stiff," Mitchell said. "I was concerned."

State veterinarian Ray Baran said that during the warm-up, "Corey walked him by me. He didn't jog."

Glatt said he knew the risk involved with claiming a 9-year-old who was making his 36th career start and dropping from a loss in a $30,000 claimer at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19. He said he claimed Eye Pea Oh on behalf of a friend, with the understanding that Eye Pea Oh could remain in Southern California for a few starts.

"I'm a big boy. I claim a lot of horses," Glatt said. "I'm happy to have the horse."

Star Over the Bay to Singapore

Star Over the Bay, who has won four stakes in the last year, will make his next start in the Singapore Airlines International Cup in Singapore, said his trainer, Mitchell.

The race is worth approximately $1.8 million and is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf May 15.

Star Over the Bay has won 10 of 42 starts and $917,353. A front-runner, Star Over the Bay is coming off a loss, having finished fifth in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap on March 27. He won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf here in January.