03/26/2008 11:00PM

Sea of Pleasure leaves turf behind


ARCADIA, Calif. - The last time Sea of Pleasure was tried on the main track he blitzed five rivals with a three-length win in the Sophomore Sprint Stakes on the dirt at Bay Meadows in mid-February.

The win was followed by a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes in his turf debut on March 2, a race his connections are ready to forget.

Sea of Pleasure returns to the main track for Saturday's $75,000 San Miguel Stakes on the synthetic track at Santa Anita, a race that will mark his first start for trainer Jeff Mullins. The colt was switched to Mullins earlier this month, having previously been trained by Gary Stute.

"They gave him to me and said, 'Do what you want,'" Mullins said. "They had this race in mind."

Mullins knows how much ability Sea of Pleasure has, and he thinks the conditions of the San Miguel - six furlongs for 3-year-olds - work in favor of the speedy colt, who has won 3 of 5 starts and $98,440.

"They find out how much gas they've got when they're in against him," Mullins said.

Sea of Pleasure may lead throughout the San Miguel, which has drawn a field of five, including the graded stakes winner Salute the Sarge and the recent Turf Paradise stakes winner Leonides. The other two starters - Red Sky Dubai and Possibi - are making their stakes debuts, each having scored a sharp win in an allowance race in his last start.

Sea of Pleasure breezed a half-mile on March 22, but the workout was not recorded by clockers, Mullins said. The trainer said he watched the workout aboard a pony and did not time the drill, but said, "It was a pretty nice work."

Salute the Sarge, trained by Eric Guillot for Southern Equine Stable, makes his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Monmouth Park last October. He won two graded sprint stakes last summer - the Hollywood Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes. In the Hollywood Juvenile, Salute the Sarge finished a nose in front of Leonides.

"I've got him as good as he can be for a horse coming off a layoff," Guillot said. "I think he'll stalk like he always does. Leonides is the horse to beat."

Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Leonides has made one start this year, winning the Palo Verde Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Turf Paradise on Feb. 25.