03/08/2005 12:00AM

Sir Oscar's last shot at stardom

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The once-promising Sir Oscar tries to revive his career in Saturday's Richter Scale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - As a 2-year-old in 2003, Sir Oscar was the toast of south Florida after winning his first six starts, including all three legs of Calder's Florida Stallion Stakes. But a very disappointing 3-year-old campaign saw Sir Oscar move out of the limelight and eventually into the barn of trainer Maria Virginia Pascual.

Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Pascual is hoping to put Sir Oscar back into the public eye when she sends him out against Lion Tamer and Clock Stopper in the Grade 2 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Pascual is the fifth trainer Sir Oscar has had since he opened his 3-year-old season with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Sir Oscar was transferred immediately after the race to the barn of Marty Wolfson, but didn't fare much better, finishing a distant eighth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. After spending the summer with trainers Richard and Greg Sacco and failing to get close in three stakes tries, Sir Oscar was sent to Pascual by owner-breeder Oscar Novo.

"I've had him since mid-November," said Pascual, whose father, Domingo Pascual, is among the all-time leading trainers in Argentina. "He had throat surgery and was off about a month and a half when he came to me, and I decided to start him back at Tampa because there were no condition races here for him at Gulfstream."

Despite having been beaten by an average of nearly 16 lengths in his previous five starts, the 4-year-old Sir Oscar was the 2-1 favorite in a seven-furlong allowance sprint at Tampa on Feb. 19 and rallied to a neck victory over former Canadian champion Wake at Noon. It was Sir Oscar's first win since he completed his perfect 2-year-old season with a victory over Wynn Dot Comma in Calder's Jack Price Juvenile.

"I know this race will be tough, but he's doing well and I think we have to find out where we stand with him right now," said Pascual, who has had 5 wins and 6 seconds from only 20 starts here this winter. "If it looks like he can't go with this kind we will look for some easier spots."

Pascual has 22 horses stabled at Palm Meadows. Along with Sir Oscar, she is also looking forward to starting Miss Victory and Fantastic Roma before the meet ends.

"I got both fillies in from Argentina and they're both very talented," said Pascual. "Miss Victory has already won 11 stakes while Fantastic Aroma is a three-time stakes winner and a full sister to Seattle Fitz."

A field of seven or eight is shaping up for the Richter Scale, led by Lion Tamer, the starting highweight under 119 pounds. Others expected to run are Clock Stopper (117), Sir Shackleton (116), Silver Wagon (115), Built Up (113), and Mister Fotis (113). Value Plus (114), trained by Todd Pletcher, is also a possibility.

Lost in the Fog goes West, plans uncertain

Lost in the Fog, who remained unbeaten with his victory in the here last Saturday, flew on Tuesday from Florida back to his base in northern California, where he will be prepared for his next start, trainer Greg Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist said over the weekend that his options for Lost in the Fog were the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby here on April 2, or the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 9, but added that if Lost in the Fog left Florida, he would not return.

So while Tuesday's decision to leave Florida seemingly indicates Lost in the Fog would be pointed to the Santa Anita Derby, Gilchrist on Tuesday still sounded a note of caution about stretching out Lost in the Fog around two turns for his next race.

"The first thing we have to do is get him home and see how tired he is or isn't," Gilchrist said. "Physically, he's fine. We just need to get him home and see what direction we're going. Next week at this time I'll have a whole lot better idea."

Saratoga County likely Dubai bound

Saratoga County, who has won the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap here and the Grade 2 General George at Laurel this winter, could be Dubai bound on Saturday. Trainer George Weaver said he is leaning towards taking Saratoga County to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen sprint on March 26.

"I won't make a final decision until he works later this week, but right now I would say we're leaning toward sending him," Weaver said. "He's doing well and how many chances do you get to go over there and run for that kind of money?"

The flight to Dubai leaves Saturday and is slated to include Roses in May, who will run in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, and Prince Arch, winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap here last Sunday.

* Closing Argument, winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes earlier in the meet, worked an easy five furlongs in 1:03.80 at Palm Meadows on Tuesday. He is scheduled to make his next start in the Florida Derby.

* Sis City, runaway winner of the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, worked five-eighths at Palm Meadows on Tuesday, covering the distance in 1:01 as she continues to prepare for the Tampa Bay Oaks on March 19.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman