03/01/2005 1:00AM

'Rock' responds in short work

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Benoit & Associates
Saturday's Frank E. Kilroe Mile will pit 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat (above) against last fall's BC Mile champ, Singletary.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Top horses are expected to look good when they work an easy half-mile, so it was no surprise Tuesday when Rock Hard Ten - expected to start as the second betting choice behind Saint Liam on Saturday in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap - sailed through a sharp team workout under Gary Stevens.

Trainer Richard Mandella worked Rock Hard Ten in company with Panama Lane, who provided Rock Hard Ten with an easy target.

"We just teased him a little easy three-eighths, and he got the last eighth in 11 and change," Mandella said. Panama Lane's rider took hold passing the eighth pole, at which point Rock Hard Ten left his rival and rolled home in 48.60 seconds.

Mandella explained the maneuver was designed to teach Rock Hard Ten to draw off and leave his rivals, and "give him a little confidence builder."

Panama Lane was timed in 49. Rock Hard Ten, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes and Grade 2 Strub, worked after the 9 a.m. renovation. Earlier, Mandella worked Big Cap probable Congrats a half-mile in company.

Winner of the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap before finishing third in the Grade 2 San Antonio, Congrats was timed in 48.20.

A field of at least 10 is expected for the 1 1/4-mile Big Cap, led by front-runner Saint Liam, the 122-pound highweight expected to arrive Thursday from Florida. Saint Liam faces at least two other front-runners in the Big Cap - Truly a Judge and Lundy's Liability. All three speedsters are racing 1 1/4 miles for the first time.

"A mile and a quarter . . . who knows?," said Truly a Judge's trainer, David Bernstein. "It really depends on the pace. The advantage we're going to have is we're going to give them hell for the first three-quarters of a mile."

Even though Truly a Judge is quicker than Lundy's Liability, Bernstein said a key jockey change could affect the complexion of the race.

"With Patrick [Valenzuela] on Lundy's Liability, he might change everything," said Bernstein, referring to Valenzuela's ability to coax speed from his mounts.

Valenzuela takes over Lundy's Liability from injured David Flores, which leaves open the mount on the 5-year-old mare Island Fashion.

Trainer Marcelo Polanco said Tuesday that Island Fashion would be entered with Kerwin John as rider, but that a decision on whether to start in the Big Cap would be made later in the week. Island Fashion also has been invited to the Dubai World Cup on March 26.

"It's one race or the other," Polanco said.

Island Fashion finished second in the Big Cap last year.

The expected Big Cap field is Saint Liam, Edgar Prado, 122; Lundy's Liability, Valenzuela, 120; Rock Hard Ten, Stevens, 119; Imperialism, Alex Solis, 117; Truly a Judge, Martin Pedroza, 117; Congrats, Tyler Baze, 115; Supah Blitz, Victor Espinoza, 115; Borrego, Garrett Gomez, 113; Island Fashion, John, 113; and Grand Reward, Rafael Bejarano, 112.

Kilroe comes up strong

Two Breeders' Cup winners will meet Saturday for the first time in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile - 2004 BC Mile winner Singletary, and 2003 BC Sprint winner Cajun Beat. With Leroidesanimaux, a Grade 1 winner who has won five straight, also in the race, the Kilroe at a mile on turf is as strong as the Big Cap.

Cajun Beat will be racing for the first time since he won the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express on Nov. 26.

"He ran great on grass, he seemed to relax, so I'll try him and see what we've got," trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Cajun Beat and Leroidesanimaux give Frankel a strong one-two punch, while Singletary makes his first start since winning the BC Mile on Oct. 30.

The lineup is expected to include Singletary, 121; Leroidesanimaux, 119; Cajun Beat, 118; Meteor Storm, 118; Pellegrino, 117; Sweet Return, 117; Buckland Manor, 116; Just Wonder, 115; Fitz Flag, 114; and Romeo Plus, 112. Laura's Lucky Boy is not expected to enter.

Papa to Kinzie injures herself

Papa to Kinzie, sixth as the 6-5 favorite in last Sunday's Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap, continues to be her own worst enemy. She broke awkwardly in the Las Flores, struck her front leg with her hind leg at the start, and emerged from the six-furlong stakes needing time to recover.

"She grabbed a quarter coming out of the gate again, and came back a bloody mess," trainer Marty Jones said Tuesday.

It is the second time that Papa to Kinzie has done it as the favorite in a stakes - she finished third last summer at Del Mar after grabbing a quarter. Jones said that the latest injury to her right front "is not as bad as the last time she did it at Del Mar; hopefully it won't cost us as much time."

Daunting retires

"I wish they were all like that," said trainer Mark Glatt, as he viewed the lifetime past performances of the popular 7-year-old gelding .

A veteran with 10 wins from 31 starts, Daunting's physical problems finally caught up with him and he was retired last week. Glatt claimed Daunting for $16,000 in March 2003 and the gelding proceeded to win 6 of his next 13 races for Glatt and owner Plan B Stable.

In his final start on Jan. 20, Daunting won a $32,000 claiming race by four lengths.

* San Vicente Stakes winner Fusaichi Rock Star will skip the Santa Catalina on Saturday, leaving a small field headed by unbeaten Declan's Moon. The 1 1/16-mile race also will include Going Wild, Spanish Chestnut, Snack, and possibly Julies Sugardaddy.

* A foot bruise will keep Kirkendahl out of the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes on Saturday, while unbeaten Chandtrue will skip the race and ship to Florida for the Swale Stakes. In the Baldwin, a 6 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds, listed stakes winner Sunny Sky will make his first start for trainer Julio Canani. Eastern Sand and Hesabully also are expected.

* Las Flores winner Miss Terrible will make her next start April 9 in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, according to trainer Bradley Ross. Miss Terrible won the Las Flores following a layoff of more than a year and a half, and has won 9 of 12 in her career, including Group 1 races on turf and dirt in Argentina.

* Golden Shine worked five furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in in 1:00.60, his first work since a blowout allowance win Feb. 16 at Santa Anita. Golden Shine earned a 96 Beyer Figure, winning by more than seven lengths, and preliminary plans call for him to run March 19 in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.