10/01/2002 11:00PM

Siphonic dead minutes after losing race by head


ARCADIA, Calif. - Siphonic, one of the top 2-year-olds of 2001, died Wednesday, apparently of a heart attack, after finishing second in an optional claiming race at Santa Anita.

Siphonic was stricken in the receiving barn approximately 15 minutes after the race, according to trainer David Hofmans.

"He had just gotten off the wash rack when they got him in a stall and he fell over," Hofmans said. "Maybe he tried too hard."

An autopsy will be performed to reveal the cause of death, but the results are not likely to be known for several weeks.

Siphonic finished second to Resolve in Wednesday's third race, losing by a head.

During the race, Siphonic raced on the rail and reached contention in early stretch. He battled with Resolve through the final furlong.

The race was Siphonic's first start since the spring.

Owned by Amerman Racing, Siphonic won 3 of 7 starts and $774,778. Last year, he won the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the Hollywood Futurity. Siphonic was considered one of the West Coast's leading candidates for the Triple Crown, but failed to win in two starts this year, finishing second in the Santa Catalina Stakes and third in the San Felipe Stakes. He was taken out of training in mid-March because of an injury.

Yellow Ribbon showcases Cup talent

The $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes on Saturday may turn out to be the nation's most contentious Breeders' Cup prep this month. Three leading female turf runners will start in the prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

Banks Hill, the winner of the 2001 Filly and Mare Turf, was scheduled to arrive from New York on Wednesday. She will face fellow shipper Voodoo Dancer and Golden Apples, the winner of the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in mid-August.

Banks Hill was scratched from the Flower Bowl Handicap last weekend in favor of the Yellow Ribbon. Corey Nakatani will ride.

As a result, Gary Stevens is expected to ride Voodoo Dancer. Patrick Valenzuela rides Golden Apples, a mount he picked up before the Beverly D. The trio will be joined by Nepenthe and Noches de Rosa, both of whom will be longshots.

The Yellow Ribbon is one of four Breeders' Cup preps on Saturday's program. The other major races are the $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on turf, the $200,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap for sprinters, and the $200,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Godolphin runners in quarantine

Godolphin Racing, which last year won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Tempera, is not expected to have a 2-year-old starter from its American team in the Breeders' Cup later this month after 20 juveniles began a 30-day quarantine at a central California farm this week.

Trainer Eoin Harty said the horses will be transferred to Dubai in November and will be campaigned there over the winter. Some are likely to return to the United States next year.

Harty's stable has not had the same success this year as in 2001 when Tempera was named champion 2-year-old filly. The Southern California division was plagued by an illness at Del Mar, which kept many horses on the sidelines.

Harty said the group of 20 includes Anasheed, the runner-up in the Arlington Washington Futurity at Arlington Park last weekend.

Harty said he will have several starters in coming weeks, including Savonarola in a maiden race on turf at Oak Tree on Sunday.

Espy to go in Oak Leaf

Espy, the winner of a maiden race at Del Mar on Sept. 1, has been added to the field for Sunday's $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes.

Trainer Richard Mandella made the decision after an allowance race for 2-year-old fillies failed to fill this week.

Owned by Claiborne Farm, Espy won her maiden race in her second start. The Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes will be her first start around two turns.

"She responds very well to working behind horses," Mandella said. "Coming out of a 5 1/2-furlong race, you don't know if you'll inherit the lead."

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Oak Leaf is expected to include Buffythecenterfold, Composure, Heart ofa Champion, Sea Jewel, and possibly Tale of a Dream.

Composure, a stylish maiden winner at Del Mar, is the likely favorite.

Strange bedfellows

The fight for California bettors' hearts and minds between account wagering entities TVG and Xpressbet.com is at its most bizarre during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, which began Wednesday.

Santa Anita is owned by Magna Entertainment, which operates Xpressbet. But Oak Tree, a nonprofit organization that has a lease for its meeting at Santa Anita, is an exclusive partner of TVG.

TVG is the exclusive account wagering home for Oak Tree. So, even though the races are being held at Santa Anita, Xpressbet cannot take bets on races at that track, but TVG can. TVG also gets prominent display at the track. The tote board has large placards for both Xpressbet and TVG. TVG's placard, in full view of Santa Anita's fans, says "Play From Home!"

In addition, TVG can show Oak Tree's races live, but Magna's fledgling HRTV, which is based at Santa Anita, cannot.

Amy Zimmerman, who oversees HRTV as Santa Anita's director of broadcasting, said HRTV will show only replays of Oak Tree's stakes races. "We view it as legitimate news, just like ESPN showing a replay of the Kentucky Derby after it's first broadcast by NBC," Zimmerman said.

At Santa Anita's main winter meeting, HRTV will show Santa Anita's races, not TVG, and Xpressbet will handle the bets, not TVG.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman