07/08/2003 11:00PM

Sise takes shot with 'Ticket'

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The prospect of Golden Ticket pulling an upset in Sunday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup has been greatly reduced since trainer Clifford Sise nominated the longshot last week.

What was expected to be a short field has turned into a competitive seven-horse field, leaving Golden Ticket as an outsider against the multiple graded stakes winners Congaree, Harlan's Holiday, Kudos, Western Pride, Piensa Sonando, and Rodion.

But even though he will be a longshot, Golden Ticket will play a role in the outcome. He is a one-dimensional front-runner who could give Congaree, trained by Bob Baffert, and Western Pride, trained by Jim Chapman, trouble in the first half of the race.

"They said it would be a four-horse field," Sise said. "At the time, they weren't talking about Chapman's speed horse. We were talking about two closers and Congaree. And I said, 'Yeah, let's take a shot.' If everyone goes that is supposed to, it will be different."

Sise and owner Glenn Holsinger are not ducking the opportunity. They have enlisted leading rider Patrick Valenzuela to ride Golden Ticket, who is going through a career revival. In eight starts since Nov. 6, Golden Ticket has won five, ranging in quality from a $20,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles here last November to the $100,000 Greenwood Cup Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on dirt at Philadelphia Park last month.

Sise sent Golden Ticket to Philadelphia Park in early May as part of a 30-horse string operated by his son, Robert, 21. Golden Ticket won an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles May 20 and the Greenwood, which was originally scheduled for turf.

Golden Ticket helped Sise's Mid-Atlantic stable to post an excellent record of 13 wins from 35 starters from mid-May through Tuesday.

Golden Ticket will be Sise's first starter in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Golden Ticket finished third behind Point Given and Millennium Wind in the 1999 Hollywood Futurity while racing for trainer Mike Mitchell, but Sise realizes the Gold Cup will be the 5-year-old's toughest race yet.

"Maybe they could give me a five-length lead and leave me alone. He will have to run the race of his life," Sise said. "I'm planning on putting him on the front end. If he can run fifth or better, I will be thrilled."

Vindication in training again

Vindication, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2002 who missed the Triple Crown because of injury, has resumed workouts at owner Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables in Florida.

According to Nadia Sanan, the general manager of the family's stable, Vindication worked two furlongs last weekend and will continue to train in Florida through July before rejoining Bob Baffert's stable in California.

Vindication has not started since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park last October. He was taken out of training in February because of a suspensory injury to his left foreleg.

"We want to get him back to Bob by August," Nadia Sanan said. "Our goal is to win the Breeders' Cup."

Sanan said that Vindication will be retired in December to Hill 'n' Dale Farms, near Lexington, regardless of whether he returns to racing this fall. Unbeaten in four starts, Vindication has earned $680,950. He was purchased for $2.15 million at the 2001 Saratoga yearling sale.

Blazonry question at distance

Blazonry won the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths May 26, his most recent start. His quality is not a concern Sunday when he takes on Ten Most Wanted in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on the Gold Cup undercard.

The distance is another issue. Blazonry won the Barrera at seven furlongs, but the Swaps is at 1 1/8 miles. Plus, Blazonry missed a start in the Affirmed Handicap at 1 1/16 miles June 22 because of a temperature.

"He had a temperature for a day, and it wasn't a big thing," trainer Kathy Walsh said. "You'd have liked to have run because he's so lightly raced. He's not as seasoned as Ten Most Wanted or Eye of the Tiger. They've been all over."

Blazonry, imported from England, has made only two starts this year, but Walsh said, "He's training good and he's relaxed."

Mike Smith has the mount in the $400,000 Swaps. Aside from Ten Most Wanted, the runner-up in the Belmont Stakes, the other probables are Bullistic, During, Eye of the Tiger, Logician, and Outta Here. All but Blazonry have won at one mile or farther. The Barrera was Blazonry's longest win, but he was a game third in an allowance race at one mile at Santa Anita April 2, losing by a neck after a wide trip.

The question remains whether he can make the leap from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

"Until they do it, you just don't know," Walsh said. "It's up to Mike now."

Krone return to wait a day

The comeback of Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone from a back injury suffered in March was postponed from Wednesday to Thursday after her lone mount was scratched. Speed to Speed, a top contender in an $8,000 claiming race at seven furlongs, was withdrawn Wednesday morning because of illness, racing officials said.

Krone has been exercising horses regularly for the last two weeks in anticipation of a comeback. She has not ridden since suffering injuries to her lower back when she was unseated at the start of a turf race at Santa Anita March 8.

Krone was booked on two mounts for Thursday and will ride Sea to See in the $75,000 Robert Kerlan Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf Saturday.

Azeri works, barn has options

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and winner of 10 consecutive races, worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds Monday at San Luis Rey Downs training center. But owner Michael Paulson and trainer Laura de Seroux are not prepared to announce Azeri's next start.

Two possibilities at Del Mar are the $250,000 San Diego Handicap against males at 1 1/16 miles Aug. 3 or the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Aug. 10. Azeri has not faced males in her 14-race career.

"We're keeping our eye on all the options," de Seroux said.

- additional reporting by Brad Free