04/27/2006 12:00AM

Sam's Ace vs. 7 in Snow Chief

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Sam's Ace, who finished fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 1, will have seven rivals when he attempts to win his first stakes in Sunday's $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park.

The Snow Chief is the highlight of the California Gold Rush program, a 10-race card for statebreds.

The program features the two most recent statebred horses of the year - Moscow Burning (2004) and Lava Man (2005). Moscow Burning will be heavily favored in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Lava Man seeks his third stakes win of 2006 in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

The Snow Chief is the ninth race. The lone stakes winner in the field is Da Stoops, who won two sprint stakes at Santa Anita in December and January. Sam's Ace made his stakes debut in the Florida Derby, where he was beaten 5 3/4 lengths by Kentucky Derby hopeful Barbaro.

The program contains six stakes with purses ranging from $150,000 to $250,000 and four races for maidens and allowance-class horses.

By far, the most popular races for horsemen were the maiden races and allowance-class races. The maiden races drew 13 and 15 entrants, while the allowance races drew 12 and 13 entrants.

Barn area renovation at Santa Anita

Santa Anita is preparing to demolish and rebuild two barns, the first stage of a multiyear project to renovate its dilapidated barn area, track president Ron Charles told the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday.

Santa Anita will replace a 32-stall barn and a 20-stall barn nearest to the racetrack once permits are received from the city of Arcadia, Charles said. The project will be completed before the start of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet in late September.

Charles told the board that the track did not have specific plans on when other barns would be rebuilt.

"We're looking at long-term plans on what to do after these two," he said.

Charles said the track cannot renovate too many barns at once because it will operate at capacity for training in coming months and needs stalls to accommodate horses. Charles said the track houses 1,800 to 1,900 horses.

Bluesthestandard sick, scratched

Bluesthestandard, the runner-up in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint who now races in low-level claiming races, was scratched from Thursday's second race because of illness, trainer Bob Hess Jr. said.

Bluesthestandard, 9, was an odds-on favorite to win a $10,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

Hess said that Bluesthestandard had coughed and showed the presence of mucus on Thursday and that he feared the illness could linger.

"I wasn't comfortable if we couldn't get all of it," he said. "I pulled him out of the race."

Bluesthestandard will appear on a veterinarian's list of sick horses, which will make him ineligible to be entered for 10 days. The earliest that Bluesthestandard can race is the middle of May.

"We will work him when he gets over this cough," Hess said. "Not because we have to, but because he'll need a little exercise."

Claimed by Steve Sobel for $12,500 on March 30, Bluesthestandard has won 19 of 47 starts and $1,041,618. He won his last two starts in $12,500 and $18,000 claiming races.

Hess insists that Bluesthestandard is fit to race despite his advanced age and the drop in class. Bluesthestandard was racing in stakes as recently as March 2005.

"I know there are a lot of opinions and rumors, but the horse has been checked inside and out," Hess said.