11/08/2005 12:00AM

Solis to return next week

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Horsephotos
Taste of Paradise (left), finishing second to Silver Train in the BC Sprint, points to the Nov. 26 Cigar Mile.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Alex Solis is expected to resume riding at Hollywood Park next Wednesday, less than two weeks after he went down in a nasty spill Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. Solis underwent a magnetic resonance image on Monday that revealed nothing more than a swollen, bruised knee. Solis's agent, Scott McClellan, said Solis had the knee drained of excess fluid Monday and was instructed by his doctor to "take a week off and not do anything."

Solis won 22 races from 88 mounts to finish fourth in the jockey standings during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, and his 25 percent win rate was second only to leading rider Garrett Gomez, who had a 27 percent win rate. Although Solis missed his scheduled ride on $250,000 California Cup Classic winner McCann's Mojave, who won by a length under Jose Valdivia, Solis's sense of humor remained intact. In a congratulatory phone conversation, Solis told Valdivia, "I would have done the same thing, but I would have won by three. You cut it kind of close."

Tarlow pointing to Bayakoa

Grade 1 winner Tarlow is nearing a comeback race, and Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo is nearing a comeback breeze. Trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss have targeted the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap on Dec. 11 for Tarlow, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap in her last start March 12. Her campaign stalled when she strained a ligament in a hind pastern and was unable to train for the Breeders' Cup.

As for Giacomo, Shirreffs said "he has plenty of miles in him," and Shirreffs expected to breeze Giacomo this week as he gears up for a 4-year-old campaign during the Santa Anita winter meet. Beyond the established runners, Shirreffs has high hopes for two unraced maidens. They include Sweet Way, a 2-year-old Giant's Causeway filly who is a half-sister to Sweet Catomine, and Hockey Fan, a 3-year-old Out of Place colt who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Toccet.

Borrego eyes February return

Borrego will carry lofty expectations into the 2006 season. Trainer Beau Greely has penciled a February return for Borrego, who rose to prominence late this year with Grade 1 wins in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, followed by a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"He might have bounced a little bit in the Breeders' Cup," Greely said Tuesday. "I can't really come up with any excuse other than he didn't fire. He did run two hard races. We had a good run."

Borrego will walk and jog the next few weeks, then crank up for winter. Speculating on the Borrego's 2006 campaign, Greely said Borrego would have "five or six races," including two starts at Santa Anita - possibly the San Antonio Handicap in February, followed by the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

The main goal, of course, will be the one that got away. "Ideally, I'd like to keep him in America and point for the [Breeders' Cup] Classic," Greely said. "We have to go back and try to get it."

Balance to try dirt

Balance cannot seem to get a break. She was disqualified from a Nov. 2 turf stakes win at Santa Anita in a stewards' decision that many observers felt was unmerited. Then turf racing was scrapped for the Hollywood fall meet, meaning Balance will have to switch surfaces. Trainer David Hofmans said Balance will accept the only option and run on dirt.

"She acts good on dirt. She trains really well on it," Hofmans said.

But can she run on it in a race? The answer will come Nov. 27, when Balance, sired by Thunder Gulch, goes in the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes, a new 1 1/16-mile stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

The disqualification of Balance in the Hidden Light was the second controversial call in two months involving a 2-year-old trained by Hofmans and owned by John and Jerry Amerman. Sacred Light finished second in a maiden race Aug. 25 at Del Mar and was moved up after stewards ruled the winner, Preachinmandan, caused interference. The call was odd, because the winner merely held his path, while Sacred Light tried to rally through tight quarters into the stretch. Hofmans said Sacred Light will return in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue at seven furlongs Nov. 19 or the $100,000 Real Quiet at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 26.

Taste of Paradise works for Cigar

Taste of Paradise had an easy half-mile workout in 51 seconds Monday at Hollywood, his first breeze following an unlucky second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Winner of the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Oct. 1 at Belmont, Taste of Paradise will return to New York for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 26 at Aqueduct, a race expected to be the final start of his career.

At age 6, Taste of Paradise is having the best season of his career. His 2005 earnings of $605,000 pushed him past the million-dollar mark and made him a borderline contender for champion sprinter. Whether a Cigar Mile victory would be enough to earn an Eclipse remains to be seen.

"I think I have an advantage, because my horse got good back East," trainer Gary Mandella said. "Like it or not, there is an East Coast bias to the vote."

Mandella said Taste of Paradise would have two stronger works at Hollywood leading to the Cigar Mile.