07/11/2004 11:00PM

Slim pickins for stakes


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Three stakes are scheduled for the upcoming closing weekend at Hollywood Park, but two of them may not be run.

The scheduled stakes are the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and $75,000 Valkyr Handicap on Saturday, and the $150,000 Sunset Handicap on Sunday, the final day of the spring-summer meeting.

The Valkyr, for statebred fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles on turf, is unlikely to be carded. It drew only five nominations, and not all of them are committed to start.

The Grade 3 Juvenile Championship over six furlongs for 2-year-olds is in poor shape. The race drew seven nominations, but had only four candidates as of Monday morning - Chandtrue, Commandant, Gentlemen Count, and Roman Ruler.

Chandtrue won the Proctor Memorial and Haggin Stakes earlier this at this meeting, Commandant is unraced, Gentlemen Count placed behind Chandtrue in both stakes, and Roman Ruler was an impressive maiden winner on June 19.

Commandant was not on the nomination list, but is eligible because he has been nominated to the Hollywood Futurity in December.

Trainer Bob Hess is considering passing the race with Chandtrue and starting the colt at Del Mar in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 15. The main goal for the summer is the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 8.

"We have to decide whether to pass," Hess said Sunday. "I think we'll do two of the next three [stakes] and miss one of the next two."

Swiss Silver, a maiden winner on June 30, was under consideration for the Juvenile until he suffered an injury over the weekend. Trainer Mike Harrington said Swiss Silver will also miss the $125,000 Graduation Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar on July 28.

Freddy is finally ready

The Sunset is likely to mark the U.S. debut of Freddy, a top horse in Argentina in 2002. Trained by Don Burke for Gary Tanaka, Freddy, 5, has not started since winning the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrino Stakes in Argentina in December 2002.

Imported to the U.S. in early 2003, Freddy was ready for a start last summer when he suffered an injury. Freddy won 5 of 6 starts in Argentina, including four group stakes.

The Sunset Handicap, run over 1 1/2 miles on turf, was not Burke's first choice for a U.S. debut, but the allowance race he sought did not fill.

Sunday, Freddy worked seven furlongs on turf in 1:30.40, which left Burke saying there was an 80 percent chance that Freddy would start.

"I wanted to see how he handled the grass," Burke said. "I was happy with it."

The Grade 2 Sunset Handicap is led by Sabiango, the winner of the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 12. Trained by Bob Baffert, Sabiango worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 on turf on Sunday.

Other probable starters are Continuously, Gulchie, Leprechaun Kid, and Runaway Dancer.

Baze closing in on first Southern Cal title

Jockey Tyler Baze has a commanding five-win lead in the jockey standings through Sunday. Baze has ridden 53 winners, five more than Corey Nakatani and Victor Espinoza, who are tied for second.

Baze, 21, is seeking his first riding title in Southern California.

Baze has five mounts on Wednesday's eight-race program. Saturday, he is booked to ride the Claiming Crown program at Canterbury Park, but will return for closing day when he will ride Sabiango.

Jeff Mullins leads all trainers with 34 wins, five more than Doug O'Neill. Mike Mitchell is third with 19 wins.

Pico Central preps for Del Mar

Pico Central, the nation's top sprinter this year, worked a half-mile in 49 seconds on Sunday, his first workout since winning the Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park on May 31.

Trained by Paulo Lobo for Tanaka, Pico Central is being pointed for the $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap over seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 15 or the $250,000 Forego Handicap over seven furlongs at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

Pico Central emerged from the Met Mile with a cut near an ankle. The cut required treatment that prevented him from starting in the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap here on July 3.

Lobo said that Pico Central will not need many workouts to be ready for the Pat O'Brien, if that race is chosen. Pico Central had only two recorded works between his victories in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita on March 7 and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 10.

Elloluv sustains minor injury

Elloluv, sixth as the favorite in Saturday's A Gleam Handicap emerged from the race with a grabbed quarter, trainer Craig Dollase said.

"It was enough to make her not run," Dollase said. "It's a matter of letting it heal. She should be back to the track in a week."

* Summer Wind Dancer, who was scratched from Sunday's $250,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap, will make her next start in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap over 1 1/4 miles at Delaware Park on Sunday.