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Stevens to ride Halfbridled
ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Richard Mandella named Gary Stevens to ride unbeaten Halfbridled when she makes her 2004 debut Saturday in the Santa Anita Oaks. Stevens replaces Julie Krone, who is recovering from injuries sustained Dec. 12 in a spill at Hollywood Park.
Krone rode Halfbridled all four starts last year, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Stevens has won the Oaks four times, in successive years from 1987 to 1990.
The temperature was already in the 70's at Santa Anita on Tuesday when Halfbridled drilled a half-mile under clear blue skies. Working after the 8 a.m. break, Halfbridled was timed in 49.40 seconds, breezing.
"She's doing great," Mandella said. "It was a routine work, just something to keep her busy."
The Feb. 15 Las Virgenes Stakes would have been the first start of the season for Halfbridled, but she skipped that race when Mandella was unhappy with her training. Since then, Halfbridled has not missed a beat. She worked seven furlongs Feb. 19, five furlongs Feb. 24, one mile on March 3, and capped off with the half-mile drill Tuesday.
A field of seven is expected for the Oaks, in which Halfbridled's main foe could be Las Virgenes winner A.P. Adventure, who has won all three starts. Other starters expected are Hollywood Story, Salty Romance, Silent Sighs, Stellar Jayne, and Vencedora Amiga.
Action This Day breezes half-mile
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Action This Day completed his preparation for Sunday's San Felipe Stakes with a half-mile Tuesday in 47.60 seconds, breezing.
"It was just a slow easy breeze going into the race," Mandella said. "We weren't looking for too much."
Action This Day will be making his second start of the season, following a fourth-place finish Feb. 8 in the Sham Stakes.
Action This Day's main rival in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe will be lightly raced St Averil. Runner-up in the Hollywood Futurity in his second start, St Averil won the Grade 2 Santa Catalina in his last start on Jan. 17. Others expected for the San Felipe include the Bob Baffert-trained Odds On and Preachinatthebar, the Doug O'Neill-trained pair of Harvard Avenue and Rush Into Heaven, Last Minute Detail, and European import Toasted.
Baffert said he would seek permission from stewards to remove blinkers from Odds On, who has worn them in all four starts, including a Feb. 21 comeback win.
"He needs to get two turns - he doesn't need blinkers," Baffert said. Trainers need approval to remove blinkers from a horse who won.
Pleasantly Perfect going to Dubai
Pleasantly Perfect, who was knocked out of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap because of a temperature, remains on target for the $6 million Dubai World Cup
on March 27. Pleasantly Perfect galloped Tuesday and will have a serious workout Thursday.
"He'll go six or seven furlongs, and we'll have enough time to check him the next day to make sure there is no temperature from it," Mandella said. The flight to Dubai leaves Saturday.
Medaglia d'Oro stretches legs
Bobby Frankel on Tuesday morning found himself in a quandary. Medaglia d'Oro, who is scheduled to make his next start in the Dubai World Cup, was not slated to work until later in the week at Hollywood Park, but was doing so well that he needed something more demanding than a routine gallop. So Frankel sent him out for a three-furlong drill, then said he would work him again on Friday or Saturday before putting him on the Saturday night flight to the United Arab Emirates.
"I was just in between when I wanted to work him, so I gave him a little something to do," Frankel said.
Medaglia d'Oro won the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in his lone start this year. In addition to Medaglia d'Oro and Pleasantly Perfect, During is also scheduled to fly from California on Saturday.
Frankel outlined the schedules for several of his other top runners. He said Peace Rules, who won the New Orleans Handicap, would make his next start in next month's Oaklawn Handicap.
Seattle Borders, who won the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita two weeks ago, will stretch out around two turns in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.
"He reminds me a lot of Peace Rules," Frankel said. Peace Rules finished third in last year's Kentucky Derby.
Wild Spirit is being pointed to the Apple Blossom Handicap next month at Oaklawn Park.
"She's like Sightseek at Santa Anita. I just don't think that track suits their style," he said. "With both of them, you want to take a hold, settle, and make one run."
Bluesthestandard fine physically
The seventh-place finish Sunday by Bluesthestandard in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap remains a mystery.
"His legs are perfect. He looks good in every way," trainer Ted H. West said Tuesday, adding, "It's the first time he's ever done that without a real legitimate excuse."
Favored at 8-5 in the San Carlos, Bluesthestandard failed to rally. The only other time the gelding turned in a subpar effort was last summer at Del Mar, when he emerged sick from the Pat O'Brien Handicap.
West theorized that Bluesthestan-dard bounced from his Feb. 1 comeback in the Palos Verdes Handicap, which was his first start in more than three months.
"He did tie his best lifetime [speed figure] off the layoff, and I guess that's a recipe for a bounce," West said. Bluesthestandard earned a 114 Beyer Figure finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and another 114 Beyer in the Palos Verdes.
Barring unforeseen developments, West will point Bluesthestandard to the Grade 2 Potrero Grande on March 28.
Another 'Amiga' for Lobo
Can trainer Paulo Lobo pull another stunner Saturday in the Santa Anita Oaks?
Since arriving from Brazil, Lobo quietly has emerged as one of California's most potent longshot trainers, with 19 wins from 136 starts, at an average mutuel of $26.30. His upsets include Farda Amiga ($42) in the Kentucky Oaks; Ilha Grande ($45) in the Hillsboro Handicap at Bay Meadows; Quero Quero ($22.60) in the Honeymoon Handicap and Viernes ($51.60) in the Waya Handicap at Hollywood Park; and Pico Central ($88.40) in the San Carlos on Sunday at Santa Anita.
It is not too late to get a square price on a Lobo starter - Vencedora Amiga may be the highest price in the Oaks field. Lobo said he realizes it is an ambitious spot.
"I know the race is very tough, but she is improving a lot," Lobo said. "She's by Broad Brush, and she was an April foal, and I think she's improved."
Lobo will add blinkers to Vencedora Amiga, whose 75 Beyer Figure from her maiden win puts her 24 points behind Oaks favorite Halfbridled. Lobo said he will know next week where Pico Central will run next.
Yearly Report to run at Sunland
Yearly Report is headed for the $250,000 Sunland Park Oaks on March 27 along with Baffert-trained stablemate Teton Forest, who runs March 28 at Sunland in the $500,000 WinStar Derby.
Yearly Report won the Jan. 19 Santa Ynez Stakes with a 107 Beyer, but got sick and missed the Las Virgenes. Teton Forest finished fifth in the Grade 2 San Vicente on Feb. 7.
Lucky Pulpit gets another chance
Lucky Pulpit had an alibi for finishing eighth in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes on Saturday, and trainer Cliff Sise plans to give the colt another chance by running him back April 3 in the Santa Anita Derby. Lucky Pulpit was 6-1 in the San Rafael, but after jockey Kent Desormeaux wheeled him to the outside, the colt made noise as if he were not getting sufficient air.
"I think he entrapped," Sise said Tuesday. "It makes sense. He was running with his head up," indicative of a horse with a breathing problem, "and afterward he was blowing hard at first, then he acted like he hadn't even run. There's nothing to fix, he just needs to be left alone."
Lucky Pulpit is one of four San Rafael horses expected to run back in the Santa Anita Derby. The others are winner Imperialism, runner-up Lion Heart, and fourth-place finisher Quintons Gold Rush. Rock Hard Ten, winner of an allowance race last week, also is expected to run in the Santa Anita Derby.
- additional reporting by Jay Privman