01/09/2007 1:00AM

Rider switch in San Fernando

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Garrett Gomez and Alex Solis are trading places Saturday in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes. Gomez rode Brother Derek to a seventh-place finish Dec. 26 in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes. Solis rode Arson Squad, who was eighth. When they stretch out Saturday to 1o1/16 miles, Gomez will ride Arson Squad and Solis will be back aboard Brother Derek.

Of course, if the Malibu third-place finisher, Midnight Lute, breaks with the field and stays the distance, Brother Derek and Arson Squad are running for second. Midnight Lute broke last in the Malibu, made a wild move into contention, raced wide through the turn, and finished third, two lengths behind winner Latent Heat.

Brother Derek and Arson Squad also had trouble. Brother Derek was blocked behind runners and was racing a distance shorter than he prefers. Arson Squad got slammed at the start. Solis's agent, Scotty McClellan, explained the switch from Bruce Headley-trained Arson Squad to Brother Derek, trained by Dan Hendricks.

"We made $1.5 million on the horse," said McClellan of Brother Derek, "and Alex thinks going long he has the potential to be a good horse this year."

Arson Squad picks up the hottest rider in the room and the leading rider at the meet. Gomez was 12 for 60 at the meet going into Wednesday's races.

"Garrett is riding like he's possessed," Headley said.

Headley said Arson Squad was compromised at the start in the Malibu, when he got slammed from both sides. He trailed early and was caught wide.

Midnight Lute, trained by Bob Baffert, smoked five furlongs on Tuesday, working in a bullet 57.80 seconds.

Three others are expected to run in the San Fernando: A.P. Excellent, Sensational Score, and the Malibu runner-up, Spring at Last.

New Argentine mare for the Craigs

Jenny Craig found a perfect Christmas gift for her husband, Sid - a Group 1-winning mare from South America who will make her U.S. debut Friday in a race named after two-time champion Paseana, the 1992 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner who was the best horse the Craigs have owned.

Carla Stripes, 4 for 5 in Argentina, runs Friday for trainer Ron McAnally in the $75,000 Paseana Handicap for fillies and mares. The mare, who arrived four months ago, was a holiday secret. Sid Craig did not learn about her until Christmas.

"He called me and said, 'What you do think?,' " McAnally said. Thumbs up.

"She's not a good work filly, but she has great action," McAnally said. "I watched the tapes of her races, and the only race [she lost] was a mile and a quarter. That might be a little far for her."

Carla Stripes is not the first equine gift Jenny has bought for her Sid. His 60th birthday present was Dr Devious, who finished seventh in the 1992 Kentucky Derby, then returned to England and won the Epsom Derby for the Craigs one month later.

Extra ground for E Z Warrior

E Z Warrior will stretch out one furlong at a time. The undefeated 3-year-old sprinter scored a sharp comeback victory Sunday in the six-furlong San Miguel Stakes, and trainer Bob Baffert said he would run next in the seven-furlong Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 11. E Z Warrior, who was racing Sunday for the first time since the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile in July, is 3 for 3 and has not raced beyond six furlongs.

So how far will he run?

"That's the $1.2 million question," Baffert said, referring to the amount owner Ahmed Zayat spent on E Z Warrior, a son of Exploit. "He's an exciting horse. He's better than his sire."

Baffert trained Exploit, who won his first five starts, including three graded stakes, among them the San Vicente, but did not race after finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 San Felipe in 1999.

Looking to Dubai with Dixie Meister

Dixie Meister, who won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap on Saturday, will aim for the $1 million Godolphin Mile on March 31, according to trainer Julio Canani.

"He's won two graded stakes in his last three starts, so he should get invited," Canani said.

The question is if he is good enough.

Dixie Meister earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in the visually lackluster San Pasqual, a 1 1/16-mile race timed in a slow 1:43.18. Dixie Meister benefited from a total pace collapse, and made up four lengths through a 33.06-second final five-sixteenths. Owned by Gary Tanaka, Dixie Meister won the Grade 2 Californian last June at Hollywood Park. Canani said Charmo, winner of the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile last year, is nearing a comeback and being considered for a turf race in Dubai.

Beautyandthebeast retired

Beautyandthebeast, a 5-year-old mare who won the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap during the 2006 Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, has been retired after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap on Sunday.

"She's had a nice campaign, and she's going home as a group winner," trainer Neil Drysdale said.

Owed and bred by Neil Jones's Abergwaun Farm, Beautyandthebeast won six races and $278,184 from 16 starts. A daughter of Machiavellian, she began her career in Europe and won 3 of 9 in the United States. Beautyandthebeast will be bred this spring, and stallion plans are pending.

Allowance produces stakes pair

It was only a first-level allowance for older horses, but the seventh race Sunday may be a precursor to stakes competition for the winner, Souvenir Evening, and runner-up, Mr. Sekiguchi, who finished a neck back. The six-furlong race was run in 1:08.53.

Owner Merv Griffin and trainer Doug O'Neill claimed the California-bred Souvenir Evening last summer for $62,500, gelded him after his second start, and he has since won three straight. Souvenir Evening could aim for the Sunshine Millions Sprint against Bordonaro and Proud Tower Too.

Mr. Sekiguchi cost $8 million, and was racing for the first time since a maiden win last April. A son of Storm Cat owned by Fusao Sekiguchi, Mr. Sekiguchi is out of a dam who is a half-sister to A.P. Indy. Mr. Sekiguchi is trained by Bob Baffert, who said he told Sekiguchi, "It's not what you give for them, it's what you have at the end. I'll get you out."

Baffert also trains 4-year-old C'Mon Tiger, a Storm Cat colt who is a half-brother to Tiznow. C'Mon Tiger won a maiden race Dec. 28, and worked a bullet six furlongs Tuesday in 1:12.