12/15/2003 1:00AM

Riders brave rough weekend


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Illness or injury kept four jockeys out of action at Hollywood Park over the weekend, including leading rider Julie Krone, whose participation in the major 2-year-old stakes of the upcoming weekend is uncertain.

Krone, Ryan Fogelsonger, and David Nuesch were sidelined by injuries on Friday, while Patrick Valenzuela missed all of last week because of flu.

Fogelsonger and Valenzuela are booked to ride on Wednesday. Fogelsonger was shaken up in a one-horse spill in Friday's eighth race. He was scheduled to visit a doctor on Monday or Tuesday to receive clearance to ride.

Krone and Nuesch were involved in a two-horse spill earlier on Friday that left both hospitalized. Nuesch was released that evening and will return as early as Thursday, according to his agent, Scott Hansen.

Krone's status hinged on a visit to a doctor early this week. She suffered the worst injuries of the three riders, with severe bruising to her upper chest and soreness when thrown from her mount in Friday's third race.

Krone was released from Centinela Hospital on Saturday morning and returned to her home in the San Diego area on Sunday. Her agent, Brian Beach, is hoping that she can return to riding for Sunday's Starlet Stakes, in which she is booked to ride expected favorite Victory U. S. A., the winner of the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park in mid-November.

Trainer Bob Baffert said he is leaving the mount open until later this week.

"I'm waiting to hear from Julie," Baffert said. "I'd rather have her at 80 percent."

David Flores will have the mount if Krone remains sidelined, Baffert said.

Through Sunday, Krone led the standings at Hollywood with 23 wins, one more than Victor Espinoza and Valenzuela.

The injuries and illnesses forced racing fans to keep a sharp pencil through the weekend. On Saturday, there were 22 late rider changes announced during the program.

Espinoza, who rode in Hong Kong on Wednesday, picked up three of Valenzuela's rides on Saturday, but did not have any winners. Espinoza won three races on Sunday.

Three other riders were away over the weekend to ride in Hong Kong - Flores, Kent Desormeaux, and Corey Nakatani.

Victory U. S. A. is one of three stakes winners expected for the Starlet, run over 1 1/16 miles for fillies. The others are House of Fortune (California Cup Juvenile Fillies) and Dixie High (Barretts Debutante). Other candidates include Hollywood Story, Rahy Dolly, and Rings and Things.

Hollywood Story remains a maiden but was second in the Del Mar Debutante, third in the Oak Leaf Stakes, and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 on Sunday, the fastest of 17 recorded works at the distance.

Valenzuela is booked to ride Hollywood Story.

Lion Heart likely to face few foes

Lion Heart, a six-length winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes Nov. 15 in his stakes debut, will be a strong favorite in Saturday's Hollywood Futurity.

Trained by Patrick Biancone, Lion Heart is unbeaten, having won his debut against maidens at Santa Anita on Oct. 24 and the Prevue. On Sunday, Lion Heart worked five furlongs in 59.20 at Santa Anita, the third-fastest of 38 recorded works at the distance.

Lion Heart may have only four opponents in the Futurity, run over 1 1/16 miles. The candidates include St. Averil, Saint Afleet, That's an Outrage, and Mambo Train. None are stakes winners.

The Futurity field does not include Action This Day, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Trained by Richard Mandella, Action This Day is preparing for a start in the $150,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 17.

Hoh Buzzard: Top goal already met

Two races into her American career, Hoh Buzzard has already toppled the goal that owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Ben Cecil had in mind when she was imported from England in late summer.

"She's won a graded stakes," Cecil said. "She's already there. She's worth a lot more than we paid for her."

Hoh Buzzard, 3, won the most important race of her 12-race career in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 15. On Saturday, she tries to win a race of similar prestige, the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap, a Grade 2 stakes over 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares.

The Dahlia is expected to draw Adalgisa, Atlantic Ocean, Betty's Wish, Blind Ambition, Magic Mission, Personal Legend, and possibly Petionville Indeed, who was entered for an allowance race on Wednesday.

Hoh Buzzard won her first stakes in the Upavon Stakes at Salisbury, England, on Aug. 13, and was purchased by Tanaka shortly after that start. She finished second in a Group 3 at Deauville, France, on Aug. 24 before being sent to Chicago, where she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park on Sept. 13.

"She had three races in a month - one in England, one in France, and Arlington. It had to take something out of her," Cecil said.

At Churchill Downs, Hoh Buzzard disputed the lead throughout the Mrs. Revere.

"I don't think she has to be in front early," Cecil said. "Churchill Downs was pretty soft. She was on the lead in 47 [seconds], and that was quick for that turf course. I think the filly is improving, and I think she's improved since Churchill Downs.

"She's gained a lot of weight and muscled up."

Shalini is turned out

Shalini, the winner of three stakes for California-bred fillies and mares in the last year, has been turned out at a local farm after being eased in the stretch of the Hermosa Beach Handicap on Dec. 6.

In the Hermosa Beach Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf, Shalini contended for the lead for the first half-mile but quickly dropped out of contention in the final half-mile.

Trainer Craig Dollase said Shalini did not suffer any injuries but tied up during the race. The performance ends any chance of her starting in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24.

"She needs a little time," Dollase said. "She's run hard all year. The timing wasn't good, but we'll give her a little rest and come back for the spring."

Owned by James and Richard Briere, Shalini, 4, has won 6 of 21 starts and $383,929. Earlier this year, she won the Pro or Con Handicap at Santa Anita and the Fran's Valentine and Valkyr Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Ramsammy returns to Southern Cal

Emile Ramsammy, one of Canada's top riders, has returned to Southern California, where he was based in the late 1990's.

Ramsammy is booked on one mount on Wednesday at Hollywood Park, Currituck Sound for Baffert in the third race.

Ramsammy had a successful 1999 in California, finishing in a tie for fifth in the standings at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. He returned to Toronto in the summer of 2000.

He will be represented by agent Sue McBrayer, a former assistant to trainer Mike Puype.

Backstretch medical checkups

The California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation has expanded its services at Hollywood Park to include medical checkups on Wednesdays for backstretch personnel, according to chief executive Peter Tommila.

The foundation operates a clinic at Santa Anita but previously did not offer medical services at Hollywood Park.