08/20/2004 11:00PM

Roman Ruler takes a spill, but is uninjured

Email

DEL MAR, Calif. - In his second day back to the track after winning the Best Pal, Roman Ruler, the undefeated leader of the California 2-year-old male division, was causing problems for Bob Baffert's stable.

At the end of a gallop at Del Mar on Saturday, Roman Ruler flipped over, fell on his right side, and briefly pinned exercise rider Dana Barnes. Barnes complained of pain in her rib cage and was scheduled to undergo X-rays late Saturday morning, according to her husband, Jimmy Barnes, Baffert's top assistant.

The incident reminded Baffert of Roman Ruler's sire, Fusaichi Pegasus, who unseated an exercise rider in the week before his win in the 2000 Kentucky Derby.

"He's starting to act like his sire," Baffert said from Saratoga, where he traveled to saddle Yearly Report in the Alabama Stakes. "He's feeling too good."

Baffert dispelled rumors that Roman Ruler emerged from his seven-length win in the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 15 with leg problems. "He's fine," he said.

Owned by the Fog City Stable of Bill Bianco and David Shimmon, Roman Ruler has won both of his starts. He scored a four-length win in a maiden race at Hollywood Park in June prior to winning the Best Pal Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Baffert said Roman Ruler is being considered for three upcoming stakes - the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park on

Sept. 18, the $500,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, and the $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. The Lane's End and Champagne are on Oct. 9. All three are important preps for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Baffert said the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 8 is not under consideration.

Mullins runners one-two in Brubaker

Cayoke scored his second stakes win of the year in Friday's Harry Brubaker Handicap, outfinishing stablemate Buddy Gil by three-quarters of a length.

The win left trainer Jeff Mullins convinced that the Brubaker distance of 1 1/16 miles is the farthest that Cayoke can be effective.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza for Michael House, Cayoke stalked pacesetter Black Bart to the final turn before taking the lead. He finished in 1:39.93, just missing Allover's 2003 course record of 1:39.84.

The Brubaker was Cayoke's first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on July 25.

"I think the Eddie Read was too far," Mullins said. "When you have superior horses looking you in the eye, it makes a difference. He ran against superior horses."

Buddy Gil finished a head in front of King of Happiness, the 4-5 favorite. The loss was Buddy Gil's third consecutive setback since an allowance race win at Santa Anita in April, but it did not discourage Mullins.

"Buddy looks like he'll run farther on the turf," Mullins said. "That's about as far as Cayoke wants to run."

Cayoke, who won the El Cielo Handicap for sprinters at Santa Anita in March, could return in the $75,000 Live the Dream Handicap over a mile on turf on Sept. 8, the final day of the meeting.

New precautions for turf workers

A near-accident in Thursday's seventh race, when three members of the Del Mar turf course staff were forced to scramble to safety to avoid a field of oncoming horses, will lead to changes in the way the staff is managed.

In a 45-minute hearing with Del Mar stewards on Friday, Del Mar officials said the maintenance staff crews that replace divots on turf will have at least one member with a radio and will not begin work until the course is clear of horses.

During Thursday's seventh race over 1 3/8 miles, maintenance crew employees Ruben Carmona, Israel Tovar, and Jim Vigil walked onto the far turn of the course after the field passed the quarter pole for the first time.

The three men were forced to dive for safety under the inside rail when the field completed another circuit and was approaching the stretch run for the final time. The men had so little time to react that they left a plastic bucket on the course, which the runners nearly struck.

During testimony before the stewards, Vigil said the crew made a mistake, thinking the race was over five furlongs and that the horses would not reappear on that portion of the course.

"We made a mistake by not knowing it was a mile and three-eighths race," Vigil said.

Vigil said it is difficult to hear at that point of the course because of a breeze from the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

"You can't hear the announcer or the crowd," Vigil said. "Other places on the track, you can hear the crowd, you look and can see the horses coming down the backstretch. Because of the wind blowing, you can't hear the announcer. We made a big mistake."

Track president Joe Harper said the turf maintenance crew would be given better instruction on the distances of the turf races.

Del Mar Cap lures two fillies

A pair of $250,000 stakes are the top races next weekend - the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday and the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Sunday.

The Debutante field is led by Inspiring, the winner of the Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 8.

The Del Mar Handicap will include two fillies facing males - Dimitrova and Moscow Burning. Both are major stakes winners suited to longer turf races.

Other probable starters for the Del Mar Handicap are Continuously, Mananan McLir, Outta Here, Royal Stamp, Sarafan, Star Over the Bay, and The Tin Man.

Star Over the Bay won the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 18; Sarafan won the Escondido Handicap on Aug. 4.