12/17/2003 12:00AM

Stakes set stage for '04


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The results of four stakes over the next 10 days will set the tone for the new year for owner Stan Fulton and trainer Rafael Becerra.

Fulton and Becerra will have runners in two lucrative stakes for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park this weekend, and two in the first two days of the Santa Anita meet next week.

Saturday, St. Averil starts in the $350,000-estimated Hollywood Futurity, a day before Rahy Dolly runs in the $350,000-estimated Starlet Stakes. Both races are over 1 1/16 miles.

At Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Raw General starts in the $125,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes for statebreds. A day later, Remembrances starts in the filly division of the California Breeders' Stakes. Those races are over seven furlongs.

A win or placing in any of those stakes would give Fulton and Becerra plenty of options for major stakes in coming months.

St. Averil and Rahy Dolly were impressive winners of maiden sprints at Santa Anita on Nov. 9. This weekend, they will face winners and try 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

Becerra brought them to Hollywood Park last Sunday and worked them as a team. St. Averil finished five furlongs in 59.20 seconds, slightly faster than Rahy Dolly's time of 59.60.

"I think they're training good to this point," Becerra said. "I was happy with the way they worked over that track."

St. Averil, who will be ridden by Tyler Baze, will have few rivals in the Futurity. The race is led by Lion Heart, the undefeated winner of the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes at seven furlongs on Nov. 15. Other candidates are That's an Outrage, who was seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Saint Afleet, who is making his stakes debut.

St. Averil is arguably the best of Fulton's 2-year-olds. A Saint Ballado colt, he was bought for $500,000 at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.

"The ultimate goal is to find out whether he can go two turns," Becerra said. "I think he'll be able to. He's bred to go long."

The Starlet will have a larger field. The candidates include Dixie High, Hollywood Story, House of Fortune, Rings and Things, and Victory U. S. A. The field will not include A.P. Adventure, a maiden winner who is being pointed for the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 4, trainer Wally Dollase said.

Victory U. S. A. heads the Starlet field. Trained by Bob Baffert, she finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and returned to win the Moccasin Stakes on Nov. 16.

Rahy Dolly made an exciting debut last month, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.11 and winning by 11 lengths. She was purchased for $335,000 at the 2002 Keeneland July yearling sale.

"I thought she won so easy," Becerra said.

The Starlet, of course, will be more difficult, but the results of that race and three others could make Becerra and Fulton horsemen to watch in coming months.

Acago to try dirt in La Brea

Acago, a stakes winner in France who finished a troubled fifth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 30, will make her dirt debut in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes over seven furlongs on Dec. 27, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella is anxious to try Acago on the dirt because she is closely related to Dare and Go, a multiple stakes winner best known for upsetting Cigar in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Acago is a granddaughter of Partygoer, Dare and Go's dam.

The hopefuls for the Grade 1 La Brea include Elloluv, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and Buffythecenterfold, a multiple stakes winner.

Fogelsonger out until January

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger has a shoulder injury that will keep him out until early January.

Fogelsonger suffered a muscle tear in a fall in the eighth race on Dec. 12. Hospital tests conducted earlier this week revealed the extent of the injury, according to his agent, Michelle Barsotti.

Through Sunday, Fogelsonger was 10th in the Hollywood Park standings with eight wins.

Valenzuela recovers from flu

Patrick Valenzuela, who had not ridden since Dec. 7 because of flu, won with the first mount of his comeback, in Wednesday's second race aboard Slew's Prince.

Valenzuela entered the day with 22 wins for the meeting, one behind Julie Krone, who is out for the rest of the meet after suffering chest injuries in a spill last Friday.

Valenzuela, who has had substance-abuse problems in his career, passed a urinalysis on Wednesday before being permitted to ride.