10/11/2005 12:00AM

Short field for Selvatica's turf debut


ARCADIA, Calif. - The effects of racing six days a week and a pesky respiratory virus that has struck the stable areas at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita have led to an eight-race program with short fields on Thursday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

The program comprises just 57 horses, or about 15 to 20 fewer than track officials would prefer.

The word "sick" has been mentioned frequently by trainers when asked if they have horses available for races, according to racing secretary Rick Hammerle.

"When you pick up the phone to talk to someone, that's the first word out of their mouth," he said.

Complicating matters is how busy the racing schedule has been on this circuit in recent months. Del Mar ran six days a week for seven weeks, from late July to early September, followed by 16 days of racing over an 18-day span at Fairplex Park in September. In addition, Oak Tree ran on Monday, Columbus Day, taxing an already-stressed horse population.

For Thursday, there is one race with five entrants and three with six entrants.

The day's top race is a $46,000 allowance race for fillies and mares at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. The seventh race, it has six entrants.

, who has never been worse than second in five starts, makes her turf debut. Trained by John Sadler, Selvatica had one victory in three starts in 2004, was laid off for nearly 14 months, and returned to win one race in two starts at Del Mar during the summer. In her most recent win, a six-furlong race on Aug. 31, she led throughout under jockey Patrick Valenzuela, drawing off to score by three lengths.

Several other runners in Thursday's seventh race have raced frequently on turf.

has run only on turf in her seven-race career. Trained by Ron McAnally for Arnold Zetcher, Private Banking finished third in the Manhattan Beach Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park in May. She ran in three one-mile turf races at Del Mar, with a second, by a nose as her best finish.

is the only filly or mare in the field with a victory over the course. Trained by Luis Seglin, she won an optional claimer down the hill back in January, but has lost five subsequent starts. Royal Wave was 10th in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap here on Sept. 28.