02/18/2004 12:00AM

Rahy Dolly, Class Above ailing


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes last Sunday was not kind to sixth- and seventh-place finishers Rahy Dolly and Class Above. Trainer Rafael Becerra said Rahy Dolly has "a problem with her breathing." According to Becerra, Rahy Dolly was making a lot of noise, and may require throat surgery. "If it's something we can fix, we'll do it. If it's something we can't fix, we'll just sprint her."

Rahy Dolly finished second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in her second start, but is unplaced in two subsequent starts.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Class Above bled finishing seventh in the Las Virgenes, which knocks her out of consideration for the Santa Anita Oaks. Baffert said Class Above remains a Kentucky Oaks candidate, and expects her next start to be out of town. He said Las Virgenes third-place finisher Friendly Michelle ran hard and was likely to skip the Santa Anita Oaks, while comebacker Victory U. S. A. also is likely to ship out of town after her bullet six-furlong work Wednesday in 1:10.20. If Baffert has a starter in the Santa Anita Oaks, it would be Yearly Report, who got sick last week. "I'm going to try to make it with her," he said.

The Santa Anita Oaks will feature a showdown between unbeaten Halfbridled and unbeaten Las Virgenes winner A.P. Adventure. Hollywood Story and Salty Romance also are expected to run, while Whoopi Cat will ship out of town.

Becerra pair target Big Cap

A big allowance win by Royal Place, and a troubled trip in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes by Saint Buddy, have earned the Rafael Becerra trainees a start in the richest race of the Santa Anita meet. After watching the 4-year-olds work five furlongs in company Wednesday, Becerra said they would aim for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.

Royal Place earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 100 winning a two-other-than allowance on Jan. 31, and Becerra said owner K.K. Sangara "wants to take a shot" at the Big Cap.

Royal Place was claimed for $62,500 last summer at Del Mar, and two allowance wins this winter have been the best of his 5-for-19 career. Royal Place will press the pace in the Big Cap, while Becerra hopes Saint Buddy gets a clean trip this time. He finished seventh in the Strub Stakes after severe traffic trouble in deep stretch.

"A mile and a quarter will be no problem, if he's good enough, we'll find out here," Becerra said. "In the Strub, I thought [Saint Buddy] had more problems than anybody."

Saint Buddy, who has won 2 of 7, was beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Strub while blocked most of the final quarter-mile. In the team workout Wednesday, Saint Buddy was timed in 58.60 seconds, the fastest of the day. Royal Place was timed in 58.80.

Orman resists Derby fever

Rock Hard Ten's impressive debut on Feb. 7 stamped him as one of the top 3-year-olds in California. But even after a strong workout Wednesday at Santa Anita, trainer Jason Orman said Rock Hard Ten will not be pushed down the Kentucky Derby trail.

"For him to get there, everything would have to go perfect. I don't want to rush him, too many horses go by the wayside," Orman said.

Rock Hard Ten, who was bred by his owner, Madeleine Paulson, is a son of Kris S.

He earned a 100 Beyer winning his debut in a seven-furlong race, and worked five furlongs Wednesday in 1:01 under Corey Black, who has been exercising the colt since September. Black said "If you look at him you think plodder, but he's not a plodder. He's so athletic, he's like a cat."

Orman expects Rock Hard Ten to make his next start in a two-turn allowance.

* Sightseek worked five furlongs Wednesday at Hollywood Park in 1:01 and runs March 14 at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap. She is trained by Bobby Frankel, who said Wild Spirit is aiming for an April 3 comeback at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap.

* Breeders' Cup Turf dead-heat winner Johar had his second work on the comeback trail Wednesday at Santa Anita. Unplaced in the Japan Cup on Nov. 30, Johar is aiming for a spring-summer campaign.

* Jean Garr, wife of Bill Garr, the longtime Southern California racing radio personality who continues to attend the races, died Feb. 8 in Los Angeles. She was 81. Bill and Jean Garr were married 59 years, and resided near Santa Anita in Sierra Madre. Donations in memory of Jean Garr can be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, American Cancer Society, 50 N. Hill, Suite 220, Pasadena, CA, 91106.