05/22/2002 12:00AM

Sir Bear out until fall


MIAMI - As soon as Sir Bear began to labor and lose contact with the field on the far turn of Saturday's $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup, there was little doubt what had caused the problem.

"He bled," said trainer Ralph Ziadie. "He bled very bad. On a scale of 1 to 10 this was a 12. He's had little trickles in the past and was still able to run through it and finish close. This was far and away the worst yet. I have no answers for why it happened, because it was very cool in Chicago on Saturday."

Ziadie said the 9-year-old Sir Bear came out of the race none the worse for wear, although it will be several months before the three-time Grade 1 stakes winner races again.

"He was bouncing in his stall and on the muscle once he got back to the barn, and he's continued to do well since the race," said Ziadie.

The trainer gave credit to to Sir Bear's jockey, Eibar Coa: "Fortunately Eibar felt something was wrong and didn't abuse him. And he's also a very smart horse who knows how to protect himself when things aren't right."

Sir Bear, who earlier this year upset Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap, will be kept in light training here over the next couple of months.

"He probably won't run until the Spend a Buck here in October," said Ziadie who trains Sir Bear for owner-breeders Barbara and Al Smollin. "I talked it over with Barbara, and we decided just to see how he does here the rest of the year. If he performs well, then we'll consider giving him another shot at Gulfstream next winter, where he's always at his best. If not then he might be retired."

Seven (maybe) for Memorial Day Cap

Bob Umphrey, Calder's racing secretary, would sure love to have had Sir Bear for Monday's $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap. Only seven horses were nominated to the Grade 3 event, and two of them, Tour of the Cat and Lavender's Lad, ran last Saturday in the Carterista Handicap.

Best of the Rest will shoulder high weight of 123 pounds, conceding a surprising six pounds to the two-time Grade 1 stakes winner Hal's Hope.

Among the potential starters in the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day Handicap is Fappie's Notebook, who was scratched out of the Carterista by his trainer, Manny Tortora.

"I would have run him in there if I knew earlier the race was coming off the turf, but the decision came so late we didn't have time to medicate him," Tortora explained.

"I haven't decided yet whether we'll run or not in the Memorial Day. It's really the only spot for him around here right now, although my main goal at the moment is the Smile Sprint, and I'm not crazy about running long and then turning him back to a sprint."

The $400,000 Smile Sprint is scheduled for July 13.

Rain throws off schedules

The late downpour that forced management to take the Carterista off the turf midway through Saturday's card also has the connections of turf specialists Unite's Big Red and Mr. Livingston scrambling to make alternate plans.

Owner-breeder Randy Mills said he has nominated Unite's Big Red to Churchill Downs's Grade 3, $100,000 Louisville Handicap on June 1, although he remains uncertain whether he'll make the trip.

"At least it gives us an option for the time being," said Mills. "I'll wait to see the nominations before deciding whether to run. The next decent race for him here isn't until the Americana Handicap on July 4, and he's doing awfully good right now.

"There is a little overnight stakes on June 8," Mills said, "but you'd hate to waste a race for only a $35,000 purse. He would pick up the same amount of money winning that race as he would for finishing second in Kentucky, and you'd save the expense and worry of shipping, although there are some pretty nice turf horses like Mr. Livingston, Band Is Passing and Wertz, just to name a few, who are also eligible for that same race."

Trainer Bill Kaplan will ship Mr. Livingston to Monmouth Park for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Red Bank Handicap.

"I nominated to several races just in case it rained and the Carterista came off the grass," said Kaplan. "The Red Bank is a Grade 3 and fits him nicely. It's the right spot at the right time, since we are also considering the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star. By running Saturday it still gives us three weeks to make that race if we choose."

Rocker pulls off upset

The horse Rocker is certainly faring better than his baseball-playing namesake, relief pitcher John Rocker.

In fact, the 3-year-old Rocker pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the meet on Tuesday when he wore down 1-9 favorite Puck to post a head victory in the $38,080 Primal Stakes.

The win was the second straight for Rocker ($41.40), who is trained by Henry Collazo for the Aldila Farm.