01/13/2007 12:00AM

River Savage earns shot at Grade 1


ARCADIA, Calif. - River Savage earned a trip to the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 10 after a front-running win in Friday's $79,100 Paseana Handicap at Santa Anita.

When she makes her Grade 1 debut in the Santa Maria over 1 1/16 miles, it is likely that jockey Omar Berrio will have her on the lead and well off the rail. River Savage cannot see well with her left eye and does not react well if a horse is along her inside, according to trainer A.C. Avila.

"She's got a little problem with vision," Avila said. "If she goes wide, she can see the horses. She's got 80 percent vision [on the left], but it bothers her."

Avila said that the problem is so acute that when he or his barn staff enter River Savage's stall, they try to go in on the right side of the filly, away from her poor left eye.

In the Paseana, River Savage won by 4 1/4 lengths over Notre Dame, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.66. She was the longest shot in the field at 11-1.

River Savage is the first stakes winner for San Diego stockbroker Shawn Turner, 38. She is co-owned by Turner and his business partner, Monte Pyle.

No new BC preps slated for Oak Tree, Del Mar

The addition of three $1 million races to the Breeders' Cup program in October is unlikely to lead to major changes to the stakes schedules for the Del Mar and Oak Tree at Santa Anita meetings this summer and fall, according to track officials.

The Del Mar and Oak Tree meetings are loaded with major stakes that serve as prep races to the Breeders' Cup. Both Mike Harlow, the director of racing at Oak Tree, and Tom Robbins, Del Mar's director of racing, said changes may be considered for 2008 or beyond.

"It's a wait-and-see thing and we'll see what happens in the future," Harlow said.

On Jan. 8, the Breeders' Cup announced that three new $1 million races will be run Breeders' Cup Friday, Oct. 26, at Monmouth Park - the Juvenile Turf, over a mile on grass for 2-year-olds; the Filly and Mare Sprint, over six furlongs; and the Dirt Mile, over a mile and 70 yards on the main track. The Filly-Mare Sprint will be run at seven furlongs and the Dirt Mile at a mile at tracks that can accomodate those distances.

Since Oak Tree hosts eight major stakes in late September and early October that serve as preps for the traditional Breeders' Cup races, which will be held on Oct. 27, Harlow said there is no room in the budget to add more stakes.

"Oak Tree is tough because money is limited," Harlow said.

Harlow said that some horses considered for the new races can use existing races as a prep. He cited the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap for older horses over 1 1/8 miles on dirt as a prep for the Dirt Mile, and the Norfolk and Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-olds as preps for the Juvenile Turf.

Harlow said the creation of a new race over a mile on dirt for the Oak Tree meeting, for example, "wouldn't be helpful to the Goodwood," which was recently upgraded to a Grade 1.

"We worked so hard to get these races to a Grade 1," he said. "I'm sure there will be horses that come out of the [existing] Breeders' Cup preps that go into the races that were created."

Robbins said that he did not plan any changes to the Del Mar schedule, but that the new races could lead to more 2-year-old maiden turf races at the end of Del Mar. The Del Mar meeting runs from July 18 to Sept. 5.

"It's an extremely popular race," he said of juvenile maiden turf races. "We can usually split them."

* Jockey Martin Pedroza has been given a three-day suspension from Thursday through Saturday for causing interference in the sixth race on Jan. 7. Pedroza rode Private Wind, who finished sixth but was ruled by the stewards to have altered course without clearance in the stretch. The suspension begins on Thursday, the next day of racing at Santa Anita.