04/17/2003 11:00PM

'Red' tries to reverse losing trend

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Continental Red was having a wonderful career until he was named the California-bred horse of the year for 2002.

"As soon as he got that, he ran two clunkers," trainer Ian Jory said Friday.

A winner of 6 of 48 starts and $844,853, Continental Red will try to end that losing streak in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Hollywood Park next Saturday.

The Khaled Stakes is one of 10 races that make up the California Gold Rush program for California-breds. The program comprises six races worth $150,000 or more, plus four overnight races.

The most lucrative races are the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles, and the $200,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles.

One of the day's most competitive races is the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for older horses over 7 1/2 furlongs. General Challenge, who has been away because of injury since August 2000, is expected to start against Bonus Pay Day, Commander's Flag, Grey Memo, Ride and Shine, Sombrio, Spend Spend Spend, Swordfish, Waingarth, and Yougottawanna.

The Khaled Stakes will also draw a strong field, enhanced by the presence of Continental Red.

A 7-year-old owned by Wes and Sharon Fitzpatrick, Continental Red earned his horse of the year title with wins in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap on turf at Santa Anita and the Great State Challenge Classic on dirt at Sam Houston Race Park. He was also second in the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita and the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap on turf at Hollywood Park.

This year, he has run two poor races, finishing eighth in the Sunshine Millions Classic on dirt at Gulfstream Park and last of five in the San Luis Obispo Handicap on turf at Santa Anita on Feb. 15.

"The field came up easy and we were either going to stay in the barn or run him," Jory said of the San Luis Obispo. "We might have been better off staying in the barn."

Following that race, Continental Red spent 30 days on the Fitzpatricks' farm in Nuevo, Calif., before rejoining Jory at Hollywood Park in mid-March.

"The horse seems to have needed the freshening," Wes Fitzpatrick said. "We campaigned him hard at the end of the year. He loves to look at the girls on the farm even though he's a gelding. He seems to enjoy it on the farm."

Jory expressed some concern that Continental Red is one workout shy of a top effort in the Khaled Stakes. He said Continental Red missed a few days of training last weekend when Hollywood Park was closed because of concern of wet weather and then a day of rain.

"We're three days behind," he said. "I expect him to run well, but I'm upset we missed that much time."

Continental Red faces two formidable opponents in the Khaled Stakes in Road to Slew, the winner of the Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita on March 23, and Native Desert, a

10-year-old millionaire. Other probables are Good Meeting, Lily's Lad, Ninebanks, Sea to See, and Surprise Halo.

Cape Town colt brings $600,000

A California-bred colt by Cape Town sold for $600,000 at Tuesday's Keeneland select 2-year-old sale. The price equaled the fifth highest at the one-day sale.

Consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, agent, the colt was purchased by Bob and Beverly Lewis, who led all buyers at the sale by paying $2.48 million for four horses.

Cape Town stands in Kentucky but the colt is classified as a California-bred because his dam, Charming Gal, was bred back to Cee's Tizzy the following year. Cee's Tizzy stands at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif.

The Cape Town colt is the first foal out of Charming Gal, a 10-year-old mare who placed in the Watch Wendy Stakes at Golden Gate Fields during her two-year career.