08/10/2007 12:00AM

Student Council sold, will run in Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Student Council, a stakes winner at Sam Houston Race Park earlier this year, has been purchased privately by Ro Parra and will start in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 19.

Student Council, 5, has won 5 of 20 starts and $252,731. He was previously owned by breeder Will Farish and trained by Neil Howard. Student Council was scratched from Friday's fifth race at Saratoga, an optional claimer. He is scheduled to arrive in California on Tuesday, according to Vladimir Cerin, who will train the horse in California.

Student Council was scratched from the Gradeo1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on July 28.

"Mr. Parra has been looking at him for quite a while," Cerin said.

In his last start, Student Council finished second by a head in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs on July 8. In that race over 1 1/16 miles, Brass Hat set a track record of 1:41.27.

Student Council's lone stakes win came in the Maxxam Gold Cup over 1 1/8 miles at Sam Houston last January. He subsequently finished second in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in March and third in the Gradeo3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs in May.

Even though Student Council has yet to run in a Grade 1, Cerin thinks he can play a factor in the Pacific Classic, which is run over 1 1/4 miles.

"He's so consistent that he's more than an outsider," Cerin said. "It looks like he has a good chance to hit the board."

The Pacific Classic, the richest race of the meeting, will have a large field. As of Friday, the other probable starters included A.P. Xcellent, Albertus Maximus, Arson Squad, Awesome Gem, Big Booster, Hello Sunday, Lava Man, Molengao, Porfido, Salty Humor, Sun Boat, Tiago, and Time Squared.

Lava Man, the defending champion, will be favored. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup for the third consecutive year on June 30.

Jara relocating to California

Fernando Jara, who rode 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor, will relocate to California next month, according to jockey agent Bob Meldahl, who will handle his business.

Jara, 19, is currently riding in New York, but will take a brief vacation to his native Panama to visit family in late August before arriving in California, Meldahl said.

Through Wednesday, Jara has won 35 races this year, a win rate of 9 percent.

Meldahl said Jara will start riding in California in earnest at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

"We might do something up north" earlier in September, Meldahl said.

Meldahl said retired Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. encouraged Jara to move to California. Jara "has had a slow time," Meldahl said of the jockey's recent results.

"Laffit thought it would be a good fit for him to come out," he said.

Becrux heads Del Mar Mile

The $400,000 Del Mar Mile next Sunday is expected to be led by Becrux, winner of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last September and the Wickerr Handicap last month.

The Del Mar Mile is one of three stakes on the program that feature automatic berths to Breeders' Cup races at Monmouth Park Oct. 27. The others are the Pacific Classic and the Pat O'Brien.

Other prominent Mile contenders are Crossing the Line, who won two races at Hollywood Park earlier this summer, and Lang Field, who is expected to set the pace.

The winner of the Del Mar Mile gains an automatic berth to the BC Mile. The winner of the Pacific Classic gets an entry to the BC Classic, and the winner of the Pat O'Brien Handicap over seven furlongs will receive an automatic berth to the BC Sprint.

One horse who will not start in the Del Mar Mile is Willow O Wisp. He was turned out for two weeks following the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting and is being pointed for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, said his trainer, Cerin. Willow O Wisp was sixth in the American Handicap on June 30. He was third in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile in May.

River's Prayer works for sprint

There are five graded stakes at Del Mar next week, including Friday's $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for female sprinters and Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

River's Prayer, winner of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder last month, will start in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs.

River's Prayer worked a half-mile in 49 seconds Friday. Trainer Paula Capestro timed the final furlong in 11.08 seconds.

Capestro had considered waiting for the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on the opening day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Sept. 26, but has decided River's Prayer needs a start.

"I've got too much horse," she said. "I've got to do something. She's tearing the barn down."

Passified ready for Oaks

The $400,000 Del Mar Oaks will have three of the leading turf fillies based in California - Passified, Super Freaky, and Valbenny, all of whom will be trying to win the first Grade 1 stakes of their careers.

Passified won the San Clemente Handicap here July 28, her second stakes win of the month. Trainer Jim Cassidy said Passified has trained well in recent weeks.

"When she gets on the track she bucks a little bit, but other than that she's pretty straightforward," Cassidy said.

Del Mar handle, attendance improve

Del Mar is showing improvement in average ontrack daily handle and attendance through Thursday, the 20th day of the 43-day meeting.

The average ontrack attendance was 16,223, an increase of 2.6 percent. The average ontrack handle was $2,372,737, a gain of 3.1 percent. The all-sources handle, including Internet and simulcasting nationwide, was $13,009,606, a gain of 5.8 percent.

* Funeral services for trainer Warren Stute, who died Thursday, will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Sierra Madre Congregation Church in Sierra Madre, Calif. A memorial service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the turf club at Santa Anita.