10/07/2003 11:00PM

Recall may be good for racing


ARCADIA, Calif. - Arnold Schwarzenegger's win in Tuesday's California gubernatorial recall election could be a boost for the state's racing industry, according to two top racing officials.

Schwarzenegger replaces Gray Davis, who was defeated by a large margin in the recall, and won comfortably over Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who had been criticized in the run-up to the election for accepting millions of dollars in campaign donations from American Indian tribes that operate casinos.

The election of Schwarzenegger could lead to an expansion in satellite wagering facilities, according to Jack Liebau, the president of Magna Entertainment's three California tracks - Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, and Bay Meadows.

Liebau said officials hope that racing issues will be better received with Schwarzenegger than they had been in recent years.

"Davis had views that were against the proliferation of gambling, including adding satellite wagering sites," Liebau said. "I think Schwarzenegger will give us a fair shake.

"Davis never really understood how important racing is to the agricultural economy. I'm hoping things will go better in the governor's office."

John Van de Kamp, the president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, who ran for governor in the early 1990's, said he expects Schwarzenegger to be more responsive to racing than Gray.

"Based on some general statements he's made, it could be positive," Van de Kamp said. "I have to add a caution to that. He is interested in horse racing, but we don't know what policies he will take after he consults with his staff. What he does in the next year or so will be from a lot of staff input. I think the initial take is positive."

Both Liebau and Van de Kamp said they expect Schwarzenegger and the State Legislature to support proposed legislation that would raise the takeout rate on exotic wagers from 20.18 to 20.68 percent to offset the state's rising workers' compensation costs.

The bill was introduced in late August but did not reach Davis's desk after stalling in the Legislature. The measure will be reintroduced in January, Van de Kamp said.

"I'm relatively confident that that will move regardless of who is governor," Van de Kamp said. "I'm not worried about that."

Dessert may go in Filly-Mare Turf

Dessert, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, will not start in the $100,000 Harold Ramser Handicap at Santa Anita on Sunday and is under serious consideration for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 25, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella said the $200,000 Las Palmas Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 9 is another possibility. But because Dessert is already a Grade 1 winner, The Thoroughbred Corp., which owns the filly, wants to try the Filly and Mare Turf.

Dessert is very valuable as a broodmare because she is a daughter of the multiple stakes winner Windsharp and a sister to Johar, a hopeful for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

The absence of Dessert leaves Star Vega as the 117-pound starting highweight in the Ramser, a mile race for 3-year-old fillies. Star Vega won the Providencia Stakes here in April but is winless in her last four starts.

Other candidates are Alashir's World, Amber Hills, Fudge Fatale, Night Games, No Kings, Summer Wind Dancer, Valentine Dancer, Valdoura, and Vanilla Sky.

Saturday's top race is the $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap for fillies and mares over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf. Buffythecenterfold, the winner of the Grade 2 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park in May, makes her first start since finishing third in the San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 2.

Roberto's Mango, the winner of the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar in August, carries high weight of 118 pounds in a field that also includes Any for Love, Belleski, Cee's Valley Girl, Gabriellina Giof, Icantgoforthat, Paga, and Swiss Lake.

Congaree works toward Classic

Congaree, a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic, worked a sharp seven furlongs in 1:22.54 before the first race on Wednesday.

Trained by Bob Baffert for Stonerside Stable, Congaree worked alone, setting fractions of 23.80 seconds, 46.99, and 1:10.24. Congaree galloped out a mile in 1:35.80.

"He looked like he was cruising," Baffert said. "Once you set the bit in his mouth, he goes. I wanted to get a good strong work and get him tired. I think he came back and he wasn't knocked out."

Juvenile possible for Consecrate

Baffert is leaning toward starting Consecrate in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile even though he finished fifth as the favorite in the Norfolk Stakes last Sunday. Baffert said Consecrate emerged from the race with sore shins but that they were less of a problem on Wednesday.

"He looked good today, and I'll see how he is," Baffert said. "His shins looked like they are okay."

Consecrate made his first start against winners in the Norfolk, having won a maiden race in his third career start at Del Mar on Aug. 30.

Consecrate was eighth early in the Norfolk and closed ground to run fifth. He finished 18 1/2 lengths behind Ruler's Court, who won by 14.

"I think he got really tired," Baffert said of Consecrate. "If he's training well up to it, I might take a shot."

Mullins's wife unseated in workout

Amy Mullins, the wife of top trainer Jeff Mullins, escaped serious injury on Wednesday morning when she was unseated during a workout at Santa Anita.

Amy Mullins was unseated near the five-eighths pole when her mount was crowded by other horses. She suffered a bruised left thigh.

"We took her for X-rays, and there are no broken bones," Jeff Mullins said. "It's a deep bruise. They want her to be on crutches for a few days."