10/10/2007 11:00PM

Stoneside gets new strategy

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - After Stoneside finished sixth as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 2, trainer Julio Canani began making plans for Saturday's $150,000 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita.

Canani, playing coach as much as trainer, was already plotting a new strategy for Stoneside's next start. Canani thought Stoneside would be best ridden in a different style.

In the Del Mar Derby, Stoneside rallied from the back of the field under jockey Corey Nakatani. For the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Stoneside will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who will go to post with a firm set of instructions.

"This is a horse that you need to get after," Canani said earlier this week. "You have to break and make sure he's on the bridle."

Owned by Marsha Naify, Stoneside is seeking his first graded stakes win in the Oak Tree Derby. He was a listed stakes winner in France in May and finished second in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat in July, his final start in Europe.

Since the Del Mar Derby, Canani has been thrilled with Stoneside's workouts, including five furlongs on turf in a quick 59.40 seconds last Sunday.

"He worked unbelievably," Canani said.

The Oak Tree Derby has two other runners from the Del Mar Derby - runner-up Augment and fourth-place finisher Unusual Suspect.

Augment led to midstretch in that race and finished three-quarters of a length behind Medici Code. Trainer Paddy Gallagher said Augment is adaptable to the circumstances of a race and not reliant on being in front.

"Some days he's aggressive and some days he's very relaxed," Gallagher said.

Unusual Suspect returned from the Del Mar Derby to win the Bay Meadows Derby by a head over Ten a Penny, who won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in July and starts in the Oak Tree Derby.

There are two imports from Europe - the Irish maiden winner Angelonmyshoulder and the French group stakes winner Asperity.

Trained by John Gosden, Asperity was fifth in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam in France in July.

"In his last race, they went very slow and they turned it into a sprint," said Leslie Reynolds, Gosden's assistant who accompanied the horse from England. "It didn't suit the horse."

Asperity is likely to race in mid-pack, Reynolds said.

"He doesn't do anything very quickly," he said. "He's kind of one-paced. Physically, he's been in good form."