03/14/2002 12:00AM

Squirtle Squirt out until mid-summer


ARCADIA, Calif. - Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Squirtle Squirt will be out of action for at least three months to recuperate from athroscopic surgery on his left knee. The surgery is scheduled for this week.

Squirtle Squirt finished second in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 27, and was training toward the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 13 at Aqueduct. Trainer Bobby Frankel said the setback is not considered serious.

"He had a spur and some filling, but the prognosis is good," Frankel said. "It's a two-month deal, that's why we're doing it now. He'll be out March and April, I'll put him back in training in May or June, and he'll be ready for Saratoga."

Squirtle Squirt, owned by David Lanzman, was named champion sprinter of 2001 after winning 3 of 6 starts. A 4-year-old son of Marquetry, he has won 8 of 15 overall and earned $1,097,220.

The defection of Squirtle Squirt from the seven-furlong Carter boosts the chances of Snow Ridge, who has led a charmed campaign. Snow Ridge's first of three wins this year came at the expense of a favorite [Freespool] who bruised a foot; his second win, against Squirtle Squirt, came on a wet track Snow Ridge was bred to love; and his third win came in a paceless San Carlos.

'Quiet' Came Home gets scan

Leading Kentucky Derby candidate Came Home was scheduled for a precautionary nuclear scan Friday, after unusually quiet behavior the past two days raised concerns the colt might have been hurt when he was cast in his stall Tuesday night. Came Home jogged Wednesday and galloped Thursday, but trainer Paco Gonzalez said the colt was uncharacteristically subdued both days.

"He gallops good on the track, but he's a little quiet and that's not him," Gonzalez said Thursday. "Today he was happier, but he's usually really aggressive and he's been kind of quiet, like something's bothering him. His blood is fine, he has no temperature, and he's eating fine, too."

Gonzalez said veterinarian Vince Baker found no physical effects of Came Home being cast in the stall, but after Gonzalez consulted with part-owner John Toffan, the decision was made to send the colt in for a nuclear scan.

"John wants to be safe, and this way we'll know exactly what it is," Gonzalez said.

Came Home's March 2 win in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes was his fifth from six starts. Pending the Friday scan, Came Home's next start was expected to be April 6 in the Santa Anita Derby.

Gobi Dan looking for piece of purse

Longshot Gobi Dan has joined the field for the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on Sunday, making for a probable field of five. The defection of Sunday Break gave trainer Paddy Gallagher reason to put the late-running Gobi Dan into the field for the $250,000 race. While Gobi Dan figures to be severely outclassed, his style should allow him to gain a piece.

"That's what he's been doing, making money," said Gallagher.

Gobi Dan has won 2 of 8 races, and earned $105,570. He was purchased for only $4,000 at a 2-year-old sale. Eddie Delahoussaye will ride Gobi Dan.

Siphonic emerged from his half-mile workout Wednesday in good shape, and will start favored under Jerry Bailey in the San Felipe. U S S Tinosa will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, and Puerto Banus will be ridden by Gary Stevens. Shah Jehan, who blew out a quarter-mile Thursday morning, will be ridden by Mike Smith.

Mountain Rage comes through

Odds-on favorite Mountain Rage scored a two-length victory Thursday in the first division of the $79,100 Academy Road Stakes. Ridden by David Flores, the 3-year-old Mountain Rage won the mile turf race in 1:35.49 under David Flores. The win was Mountain Rage's fourth from eight starts. Owned by George Jacobs and Jill Moss, Mountain Rage is trained by Bob Baffert. He paid $3.60.

Runner-up National Park, ridden by Corey Nakatani, was disqualified and placed third for interfering with third-place finisher Greenhills in midstretch. Red Briar, the second choice in the betting, finished fourth in the field of seven.

* Trainer Mel Stute broke a 50-race losing streak in the second race Thursday when his maiden claimer Without Bounds won a maiden-claiming sprint under Pat Valenzuela. The colt, Stute's 51st starter at the meet, won by 1 1/2 lengths. Stute was announced as a Hall of Fame nominee early this week.