02/01/2007 12:00AM

Rahys' Appeal will run rather than rest

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Bush has decided against giving his stakes-winning mare Rahys' Appeal a vacation and instead will ship her back to Southern California to run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 10.

Rahys' Appeal last ran in the San Gorgonio at Santa Anita on Jan. 7, finishing second behind Citronnade in the Grade 2 turf stakes. When she returned home, Bush was considering giving her some time off on the farm before aiming at a spring campaign. The horse was doing so well, however, that Bush decided to keep her in training.

"She really came out of the race good," Bush said. "She's a big strong filly, she seems to be training very well. We thought we'd take a chance.''

Before running second in the San Gorgonio, Rahys' Appeal was disqualified and placed second after finishing first by three lengths in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap over Aqueduct's main track.

On Wednesday, Rahys' Appeal breezed five furlongs in 1:02.26 at Belmont Park and is scheduled to ship to Southern California on Tuesday. Bush said the mare will not have another work before the race.

Meanwhile, Bush said that A True Pussycat, who won Wednesday's $66,500 Lady on the Run Stakes here by 2 1/4 lengths, may run next in the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup Handicap at Oaklawn Park on March 10.

Wednesday's victory was the second straight overnight stakes score for A True Pussycat since Bush took over her training earlier this year.

"Obviously, it's probably going to be a whole [different] level, but she deserves a chance to take another step up,'' Bush said. "I thought [Wednesday's] race was a little tougher than the race she ran in last time.''

Though A True Pussycat won the Get Lucky from off the pace, she went gate to wire in the Lady on the Run under Norberto Arroyo.

Said Bush: "I told [Arroyo], 'Be aggressive leaving there. If they're going to take the lead away make them earn it.' They didn't take the lead away so we took it.''

Arroyo loses his biggest fan

When Arroyo rode A True Pussycat and two others to victory on Wednesday, he did so with a heavy heart. Just prior to the running of Wednesday's first race, Arroyo received word that his cousin Angel Arroyo died in Puerto Rico after a 10-month battle with cancer. He was 27.

Arroyo flew to Puerto Rico on Thursday. Arroyo said he wasn't sure if he would make it back to ride Friday but plans to be here on Saturday, when he is named to ride seven horses.

"He was my biggest fan,'' Arroyo said from Puerto Rico. "There's not one race of mine that he doesn't have recorded. He didn't have much money, but he made sure he had TVG to watch the races. It's a tough loss.''

Arroyo said his father called him with the news just prior to Wednesday's opener. Though Arroyo briefly considered taking off his mounts, his father implored him to ride.

"My father asked to me to concentrate as much as I could,'' Arroyo said.

Correction doesn't fill

Saturday's feature was scheduled to be the $65,000 Correction Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs. But the race did not draw enough entries to fill and was not used. It was listed on the overnight as an extra race for Sunday.

In its place, the Saturday feature will be an optional claiming race at a mile and 70 yards. Three horses are being offered for the $75,000 tag.

Omaha Beach, making his first start since being claimed by Richard Dutrow Jr. at Churchill Downs in July, heads the field. With Dutrow on suspension, the horse will run under assistant Juan Rodriguez's name.

Omaha Beach was part of Dutrow's Southern California stable before shipping here in mid-January.

Three in the Bag and Pulpiteer finished third and fourth, respectively, in a similar spot on Jan. 24 and both were steadied entering the first turn.

Sir Whimsey preps for Whirlaway

Sir Whimsey, third in the Count Fleet Stakes last month, worked five furlongs in 1:02.25 Thursday morning at Belmont Park in preparation for next weekend's Whirlaway Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Sir Whimsey worked in company with the restricted stakes winner Prince of Peace. The two worked side by side the entire time.

"I didn't want to go too fast, and if they went together I thought they'd still get something out of it,'' trainer Mike Miceli said. "[Sir Whimsey] worked well and if all goes well we're pointing for that race.''

Sir Whimsey was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Pink Viper in the Count Fleet. Sir Whimsey was inside most of the way, and things tightened up on him around the far turn and he began to drop back.

"He gained a lot of experience out of the race,'' Miceli said. "At one point, I thought this horse ain't going to hit the board. That last eighth of a mile he gained some ground, so I'm encouraged by the fact that his finish was good.''

Empire Racing schedules meeting

Racing fans are invited to a meeting to be held by Empire Racing to discuss the future of racing in the state. Empire Racing is a horsemen-led group hoping to win the bid to operate racing at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga beginning in 2008.

The meeting will be held at the New Hyde Park Inn, 214 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, N.Y., from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Officials from Empire will make a short presentation and then solicit input and discussion from participants on their concerns and ideas for revitalizing racing in the state.

An Ad-Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing made a non-binding recommendation that Excelsior Racing Associates be awarded the franchise beginning in 2008. Empire Racing came in second in that process.

Blacksmith Elmer Campbell dies

Charles E. "Elmer'' Campbell, a member of a respected family of blacksmiths that worked for generations at East Coast racetracks, died in his sleep Wednesday at his home in Miami. He was 83.

A native of Baltimore, Campbell followed his father, Rhodes Campbell, who worked as a blacksmith at Mid-Atlantic tracks such as Pimlico, Laurel, and Delaware Park.

Among Elmer Campbell's clients were Hall of Fame trainers T.J. Kelly and Laz Barrera as well as Harbor View Farm. Campbell was the blacksmith for 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

Campbell was the father of twin sons, Charlie and Joe, who worked as blacksmiths. Charlie died in the summer of 2005 at age 53. Joe still works on the New York Racing Association circuit.