08/10/2005 11:00PM

Splendid Blended retired

Splendid Blended (1), beating Andujar in the Vanity, retires with 4 wins in 6 starts and $519,000 in earnings.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Splendid Blended, one of the nation's top 3-year-old fillies, has been retired because of concern over a suspensory ligament, trainer Neil Drysdale said Thursday.

Drysdale made the decision earlier this week after he was unhappy with the way Splendid Blended worked seven furlongs at Del Mar last weekend.

"We were having some trouble with her upper suspensory," Drysdale said. "I didn't like the way she worked."

Owned by Peter Vegso, Splendid Blended is expected to be shipped to Kentucky on Aug. 19 and will be bred next year.

won 4 of 6 starts and $519,900. She won the final start of her career in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap against older fillies and mares at Hollywood Park on July 3.

At 2, Splendid Blended won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes and finished second to the champion Sweet Catomine in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes.

Plagued by minor ailments, Splendid Blended did not make her 3-year-old debut until the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 4. She led for the first six furlongs of that one-mile race, but faded to finish fourth, two lengths behind Round Pond.

"She should have won the Acorn," Drysdale said. "She's a very talented filly."

The Vanity Handicap was the most prestigious win of her career. Splendid Blended finished a head in front of the millionaire mare Island Fashion.

Drysdale said that Splendid Blended could recover from the injury, but that the risk is too great.

"In six months, there would always be a question" of whether she could make it back, Drysdale said. "She's got a lovely race record. She's valuable."

Pico Central back in training

Pico Central, a finalist for the 2004 Eclipse Award for outstanding sprinter, has resumed training after undergoing a battery of tests following a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar on July 31.

Pico Central was found to have bled in that race, his third consecutive loss of the year.

Trainer Paulo Lobo said X-rays were taken of Pico Central's lungs and that blood tests were conducted before the horse resumed jogging this week at Santa Anita.

Lobo said the long-term goal is the $500,000 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, a race that was one of Pico Central's four stakes wins in 2004.

"Everything is clear," Lobo said. "If he shows us that he is okay, we'll keep going."

Healthy Addiction liked the turf

Healthy Addiction pulled a 45-1 upset in Wednesday's $81,500 Osunitas Handicap for fillies and mares on turf, beating a group that included the multiple Grade 1 winner Ticker Tape.

A finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding turf female of 2004, Ticker Tape finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Healthy Addiction.

Trainer John Sadler said he was forced to try Healthy Addiction in the Osunitas because he was out of opportunities for her.

"She's a victim of the program," he said, referring to the California stakes schedule. "There is no place to run her on dirt. It was a good time to try the grass."

A 4-year-old, Healthy Addiction ($92.80) had no trouble with the new surface. She stalked pacesetter Crowded Room to the final turn and pulled clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Cotopaxi. Ridden by Jon Court, Healthy Addiction ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.73.

"We got a soft pace," Sadler said.

Healthy Addiction will be pointed for the $200,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf Sept. 3. Sadler said he envisions keeping her near home in the foreseeable future.

"She's doesn't ship well and run," he said. "I sent her up north and it was the only bad race she ran."

Ticker Tape's slide continues

Ticker Tape was seventh on the final turn of the Osunitas and moved up to fourth in early stretch. She appeared in position to threaten Healthy Addiction, but could not produce the necessary rally.

The loss was the latest in a series of frustrations for trainer Jim Cassidy. Owned by Forging Oaks Farm, Ticker Tape is winless in five starts since the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland last October.

"I'm not happy," Cassidy said. "She used to make a move and then let them come and try to get us."

Ticker Tape is a candidate for the Palomar, Cassidy said.

Baffert to save prospects for fall

During the years that Bob Baffert won seven consecutive runnings of the Del Mar Futurity, he often had more than one starter in the race. This year, he insists that will not be the case.

Baffert said he wants to save his top prospects for other stakes in the autumn.

"You won't see me with five in the Futurity," Baffert said. "I don't want to run them too many times."

Sunday, Baffert starts What a Song in the top prep for the Futurity, the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs. What a Song is unbeaten in two starts, including the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 16.

"He's the now horse - right now," Baffert said.

But Baffert said What a Song is not definite for the Futurity. Instead, Baffert may start the maiden winners Air Ace, Enforcement, or Midnight Lute.

"He might run here and not run here again," Baffert said of What a Song. "I change my mind all the time."

Baffert said his 2-year-old males could be sent to stakes at Arlington Park, Belmont, and Keeneland.

"I've got a few headed for the Breeders' Cup schedule and a few on the Kentucky Derby schedule," Baffert said.

Baffert has a 2-year-old in his barn that cost Japanese owner Fusao Sekiguchi $8 million at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale. The Storm Cat colt has not been named but is breezing. He is up to a half-mile, Baffert said.

"He's starting to come around," he said. "[Sekiguchi] told me to take my time with him. The main objective is the Kentucky Derby. He didn't say Breeders' Cup, he said Kentucky Derby."

Valenzuela appealing suspension

Through Wednesday, jockey Pat Valenzuela led all riders with 23 wins. He held a three-win advantage over Garrett Gomez.

Valenzuela's lead may be threatened over the weekend. He rides at Arlington Park on Saturday, and Mountaineer Park on Sunday.

Valenzuela is appealing a five-day suspension he was given Thursday for causing interference in Wednesday's second race. Valenzuela rode Princess Kinzie, who finished second in a maiden claimer. She was demoted to third after the stewards ruled she was ridden between horses when a hole did not exist.

Valenzuela will be able to continue riding until an appeal is heard.