07/05/2005 11:00PM

Solis ready to get aggressive in Swaps

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Benoit & Associates
Megahertz, winning the Beverly Hills Handicap, could make her next start in the Beverly D. Stakes on Aug. 13.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Alex Solis is taking the blame for Surf Cat's loss in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap on June 18 and looking toward Saturday's $400,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park for a chance at redemption.

In his stakes debut, Surf Cat finished a neck behind Indian Ocean in the Affirmed over 1 1/16 miles.

Solis said he was disappointed with his tactics aboard Surf Cat, allowing the colt to be four wide in a four-horse field. In hindsight, he said, he wished he had taken a more aggressive approach. Trained by Bruce Headley, Surf Cat was a neck behind the leader at the quarter pole and essentially stayed in that position down the stretch, just failing to catch Indian Ocean.

"I felt like I rode a bad race," Solis said. "I told Bruce that afterward. I felt like I rode a little too cautious. I didn't want to abuse him the first time going two turns. I should have let him run a little leaving the gate. I could have been two wide instead of being four wide. This time, I think I can ride [with] a little more confidence."

The Swaps is run over 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and has drawn a stronger field than the Affirmed. The field of eight is led by Don't Get Mad, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and scored two stakes wins at Churchill Downs in the spring: the Derby Trial over a mile in April and the Northern Dancer Stakes over 1 1/16 miles in June.

The other stakes winners in the field are Indian Ocean, who won his stakes debut in the Affirmed; Robador, the upset winner of the Snow Chief Stakes here in April; and Dover Dere, who won the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in December.

Dover Dere was third in the Affirmed Handicap after setting the pace but fading in the final furlong to lose by 2 1/4 lengths.

Solis said a quick pace in the Swaps does not concern him. Surf Cat raced from well off the pace when he beat maidens at Santa Anita in April and was third in the first half-mile of the Affirmed Handicap.

"He has the experience of coming from off the pace," Solis said. "It depends on what kind of speed it will look like. Bruce Headley horses can run where you want to put them."

In a sense, Surf Cat is typical of a Headley-trained 3-year-old. He was not rushed early in his career, made his career debut in January, and has developed rapidly in recent months. Both Solis and Headley are seeking their first wins in the Swaps Stakes.

"I think my horse can improve a lot more out of his last race," Solis said. "He kept going and kept trying the whole stretch. He never gave up."

A Gleam draws field of nine

The Swaps is one of three graded stakes on Saturday's program, along with the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup and the $150,000 A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares over seven furlongs.

The Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap has drawn a field of nine, including Puxa Saco and Valentine Dancer, who have won stakes at this meeting. Puxa Saco won the Grade 3 Desert Stormer Handicap over six furlongs on June 5. Valentine Dancer won the Fran's Valentine Stakes for statebreds on turf in April. She was scratched from the Royal Heroine Stakes last Sunday. Alphabet Kisses, winner of the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita, is also a top contender.

Megahertz closing in on retirement

Megahertz, the leading female turf runner in the nation this year, will make only two or three more starts this year before a likely retirement, according to owner Michael Bello and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Megahertz, 6, won her 12th career stakes in the $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap on June 25, her third stakes win of the year.

Last winter, Bello and Frankel considered retiring Megahertz and having her bred, but decided to campaign her in 2005 at Bello's request.

"I said to Bobby, 'Can we have one more year?' " Bello said.

Frankel said he envisions starting Megahertz in the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 13 and the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29. There is a chance she could run in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 1, one of the few major stakes for fillies and mares on the Southern California circuit that Megahertz has not won.

Megahertz is expected to be bred in early 2006. She has won 13 of 31 starts and $1,811,594.

Frankel said it is unlikely that Megahertz will start in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar on July 23, because the race is a handicap.

Megahertz was held out of the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 30 because Frankel was unhappy with her 124-pound weight assignment. She wound up carrying 124 in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills, winning by three-quarters of a length.

In the second half of the year, many major stakes for the division are weight-for-age races.

Gallagher horses point to Del Mar

Trainer Paddy Gallagher was aiming for the first Grade 1 of his career when McCann's Mojave and Three Degrees started at Hollywood Park last weekend. That milestone has been postponed at least until the Del Mar meet.

McCann's Mojave finished second in the $350,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap, and Three Degrees was fifth in the $750,000 American Oaks. Both emerged from their races in good condition and are being pointed for races at Del Mar.

Three Degrees will be pointed for the meeting's major race for 3-year-old fillies, the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, a Grade 1 over 1 1/8 miles on turf Aug. 20.

In the American Oaks, Three Degrees was steadied in traffic on the final turn and never threatened race winner Cesario.

McCann's Mojave will start in the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap, a Grade 2 over seven furlongs on Aug. 21.