07/28/2004 11:00PM

Return to turf may spark Buddy Gil

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Buddy Gil tries to win his first stakes since the 2003 Santa Anita Derby in Saturday's $75,000 Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar, a race that trainer Jeff Mullins hopes will revive Buddy Gil's career.

Mullins considers the Wickerr, run over a mile on turf, a chance to reacquaint Buddy Gil with a surface on which he has already succeeded.

Before he became a Kentucky Derby candidate in 2003, Buddy Gil won the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes at 26-1 on the Santa Anita hillside turf course in February 2003. The race remains his only start on the surface.

"I'll keep him on the turf if I can," Mullins said.

Buddy Gil will be favored in the Wickerr, which drew seven entrants. The race marks Buddy Gil's first start since he finished second in the Ack Ack Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 31.

In that race, Buddy Gil led in the stretch, but was caught by Taste of Paradise. Buddy Gil has one victory this year, a smart score in a one-mile allowance race on dirt at Santa Anita on April 16.

The Wickerr marks the 2004 debut of Bonus Pack, who won the Escondido Handicap here last August. Trained by Tom Proctor, Bonus Pack has not started since November.

Needwood Blade, a stakes winner in England in 2003, makes his first start since April. Winless in four starts in this country, Needwood Blade was ninth in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland in his last start.

"If anything would ever go right, he'd be a serious horse," said trainer Kathy Walsh. "He hasn't had any American luck."

The Tin Man, who finished fourth in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf, was supplemented to the Wickerr but won't run and instead will start in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap Aug. 29, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Pleasantly Perfect has fastest work

Pleasantly Perfect breezed three furlongs in 34.60 seconds Thursday in preparation for Sunday's $250,000 San Diego Handicap.

The breeze was the fastest of 25 recorded works at the distance.

Pleasantly Perfect is the 124-pound topweight for the Grade 2 San Diego, which will be his first start since the $6 million Dubai World Cup in the Middle East on March 27.

The quick workout pleased Mandella, who recalled that Pleasantly Perfect worked a quick five furlongs in advance of his win in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall.

"I wanted to put a little life in him," Mandella said.

Aside from Pleasantly Perfect, the San Diego, run over 1 1/16 miles, drew seven entrants: Choctaw Nation, Decorador, During, Night Patrol, Nose the Trade, Reba's Gold, and Taste of Paradise.

Baze could be suspended

Jockey Tyler Baze is likely to face a suspension for his ride in Wednesday's sixth race, in which his mount, We All Love Aleyna, fouled a horse that was racing in front of him.

In midstretch of a claiming race for 3-year-olds on turf, We All Love Aleyna clipped the legs of General Fox, who was racing near the lead. General Fox took several awkward steps and faded to seventh.

We all Love Aleyna won by two lengths but was disqualified and placed seventh. The stewards cited the interference as a cause for the disqualification.

"Basically, he cut that horse down," said steward Tom Ward.

General Fox apparently emerged from the race with an injury, which trainer Vladimir Cerin declined to detail. "He didn't pull up all that good," said Cerin. "He would have been no worse than second."

Males next for Moscow Burning

Moscow Burning, the runner-up in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap on July 24, will make her next start against males in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 29, trainer Jim Cassidy said.

After the Mabee, Cassidy said Moscow Burning would be pointed for the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 14. He changed his mind earlier this week.

"I don't want to fly her," Cassidy said.

The Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap is run over 1 3/8 miles on turf. In May, Moscow Burning beat females in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Belmont Park.

"I think the trip will be advantageous to her," Cassidy said. "Most of the males don't want to go that far. I know she wants to go that far."

Oak Tree changes Friday post times

Oak Tree will start its Friday programs at 2:30 p.m. this fall, a switch that track officials consider an experiment.

The 26-day meeting runs Sept. 29-Oct. 31. There are five Fridays at the meetings: Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29.

Other post times will be 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 12:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays; noon on Oct. 16; and 9:40 on Oct. 30, Breeders' Cup Day.

The change to the Friday post times was made because of successful Friday programs during the Del Mar meeting and, to a lesser extent, during April at the Santa Anita spring meeting.

The Oak Tree meeting will include a new bet - a $1 pick five, which will cover the last five races.

The bet will start in the race following the first race of the $2 pick six and in the race preceding the first race of the $1 pick four. There will be no carryover. If the pick five is not won, the pool will be distributed to bettors who have four winners.

Memo to Russ euthanized

Memo to Russ, who was entered for Thursday's third race, was euthanized after suffering injuries when he became loose after a gallop early Thursday.

The incident occurred after Memo to Russ completed a routine gallop. Trainer Bill Spawr said Memo to Russ, a 4-year-old gelding, unseated his exercise rider after being spooked by a horse that was jogging onto the track. Memo to Russ was injured when he struck a rail.

Owned by Ron Manzani and Russell Sarno, Memo to Russ won 4 of 15 starts and $63,800.

Imperialism works three furlongs

Imperialism, third in the Kentucky Derby, breezed three furlongs in 38 seconds Thursday. Trainer Kristin Mulhall said Imperialism is under consideration for the $400,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf Sept. 6.

Ticker Tape, the winner of the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 3, breezed five furlongs in 1:02. Trained by Jim Cassidy, she is a top candidate for the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on turf Aug. 21.