04/16/2008 12:00AM

Santa Barbara distance may benefit Immortelle


ARCADIA, Calif. - From trainer Paulo Lobos's perspective, Immortelle should be starting in Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita as the winner of the Santa Ana Handicap last month.

Lobo is still a little steamed that Immortelle was not promoted from second to first after she was bumped near the finish of the Santa Ana by race winner Costume. The two made contact in the final strides, and Immortelle was beaten only a neck in a thrilling finish.

"I loved the race," Lobo said, in reference to Immortelle's performance. "I think it was a tough call for the stewards. I think they should have disqualified the [other] filly."

Of course, Lobo has a biased opinion about the matter. He is hoping that the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf for fillies and mares, will give Immortelle her first graded stakes win in the United States.

"I think the distance is going to be better," Lobo said.

Owned by Stud TNT, Immortelle won the Group 1 Brazilian Oaks in 2007. Immortelle, 5, was second to another Group 1 winner from Brazil, Colina Verde, in her U.S. debut on Feb. 11, her first start in nearly nine months. She was vastly better in the Santa Ana as an 11-1 outsider.

"She was away from a long layoff, and you expect that they will improve," Lobo said.

Immortelle is part of a strong 11-horse field in the Santa Barbara, the ninth race on a 10-race program Saturday. Double Trouble, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on the main track in February, is the 117-pound highweight.

Lobo's stable is in the midst of an outstanding season. He won the Arkansas Derby last Saturday with Gayego, who is already at Churchill Downs preparing for the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

A native of Brazil, Lobo, 39, had won 9 races from 42 starters and $957,854 this year through Wednesday. Last year, he had 16 wins from 126 starters and earnings of just $1,045,257.

"This is a very good feeling," he said of his current campaign. "There can be ups and downs."

Tres Borrachos eyes Preakness

Tres Borrachos, third in the Arkansas Derby, is being pointed for the $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17, even though trainer Beau Greely is holding out hope for a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

"It looks slim to get in," Greely said of the Kentucky Derby. "If not, we'll go to the Preakness. You never know what will happen in the next few weeks."

Tres Borrachos lacks the graded stakes earnings needed to secure an automatic berth in the Kentucky Derby. If the Derby draws more than 20 entries, which is almost a certainty, the 20 leading earners in graded stakes will make up the field. With $118,000, Tres Borrachos ranks 32nd on the list.

Victory Pete suffers foot bruise

Victory Pete, third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes on March 1, was scratched from the Arkansas Derby because of a bruised foot, according to trainer Alexis Barba. The third-place finisher in the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields earlier this year, Victory Pete has returned to Barba's stable at Hollywood Park.

Barba said her immediate focus is restoring Victory Pete's foot to better condition, but she still has an eye on the later races in the Triple Crown.

"I want to get completely through this," she said, referring to the foot problem. "I've thought about [the Preakness]. It's been in the back of my mind."

Silver Swallow makes 4-year-old debut

Silver Swallow, second in three graded stakes last year, makes her 4-year-old debut in an optional claimer over seven furlongs Friday, a race that trainer Bruce Headley plans to use as a prep to upcoming graded stakes.

Unraced since October, Silver Swallow has drawn the outside in a field of nine fillies and mares. She was second in a first-condition allowance race in her last start.

"I really like her," Headley said. "She just bruised a foot and had a layoff. I got set back in training when the rain hit or I would have started earlier. There's never been anything seriously wrong with her."

Last year, Silver Swallow was second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (as the 9-10 favorite), and Grade 3 Railbird Stakes, losing the latter race by a nose as the 2-1 favorite.

She will be pointed to graded stakes at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, which begins Wednesday.

"I have to start her somewhere, and this should be a good start for her," Headley said. "It's in between a sprint and a distance."

Tiz West targets Will Rogers Stakes

Tiz West became the unexpected leader of trainer Richard Mandella's 3-year-old division with a victory in the La Puente Stakes last Saturday.

Earlier this year, Mandella expected Crown of Thorns and Into Mischief to lead his 3-year-olds, but they were sidelined by injuries after winning stakes in February. Dixie Chatter, the winner of the Norfolk Stakes last fall, was sidelined last year, and is only beginning a comeback.

Tiz West is unbeaten on turf, having won a maiden race on the surface earlier this year and then the La Puente. In the La Puente, Tiz West was near the front throughout and finished three-quarters of a length in front of Afleet Ruler.

Tiz West is being pointed to the $100,000 Will Rogers Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on May 17, Mandella said.

"He found another gear on the turf," Mandella said. "He didn't run badly on the [main track]. I'm not in a big hurry to try him back on it."

Dixie Chatter, who suffered an ankle injury last fall, has resumed working and is being pointed for the $100,000 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on May 18.

Into Mischief, who battled foot problems after winning the San Vicente Stakes in February, will resume training "in a week or two," Mandella said.

Crown of Thorns, winner of the Robert Lewis Stakes in February, underwent surgery last month to have two screws placed in a cannon bone. He will resume training at the end of the year, Mandella said.