02/29/2008 12:00AM

Sea of Pleasure knows how to stalk


ARCADIA, Calif. - When the field runs down the hillside turf course in Sunday's $100,000 Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita, trainer Gary Stute vows not to panic if Sea of Pleasure is trailing.

Sea of Pleasure was considered a speed-crazy runner until he won the Sophomore Sprint at Bay Meadows on Feb. 16. In that six-furlong race, Sea of Pleasure stalked the pacesetter from three lengths back, took the lead in early stretch, and won by three lengths for his first stakes victory.

It was the first time in the colt's four-race career that he did not have the early lead.

"The other horse opened up about four and I got a little nervous," Stute recalled. "I like the fact that he rated."

Sea of Pleasure will make his turf debut in the Baldwin, at about 6 1/2 furlongs for 3-year-olds. He was second in the San Pedro Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on the synthetic track at Santa Anita on Jan. 20, setting a scorching pace before being passed by Gayego.

Sea of Pleasure has won 3 of 4 starts and $98,440. He worked a half-mile in 49.40 seconds on turf on Thursday under jockey David Flores. "David seemed to think he went well on it," Stute said.

While Sea of Pleasure is a stakes winner, he has four rivals Sunday that have won on turf, including Sky Cape, who finished second in the Eddie Logan Stakes at a mile on Dec. 29. Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Sky Cape returned to win an optional claimer at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Jan. 17. He will be ridden on Sunday by Corey Nakatani, who is returning from a seven-week absence caused by a broken collarbone.

Two other colts have won on the hillside turf course - D. Double You and Returning.

D. Double You won an optional claimer on Feb. 16, his fourth victory in six career starts, when eligible to be claimed for $80,000.

Returning won his career debut against maidens on Feb. 10, stalking the pace before winning by a length. "He showed a lot of character," trainer Richard Mandella said. "He's built like a little, quick horse."

The race marks the first starts on turf for Nevada Worrier, the winner of the Cavonnier Stakes here last October; Doc on the Rock; and Italian Rules. Ten Meropa makes his U.S. debut; he won once in five starts in England last year.