02/16/2006 12:00AM

Sunshine Alpine looks headed to the West


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Gary Contessa believes Sunshine Alpine has a bright future as a two-turn horse. Contessa, Aqueduct's leading trainer this winter, just isn't sure he'll get the chance to find out first hand if he's right.

A deal to sell Sunshine Alpine to California-based owner Joseph Kowal was finalized earlier in the week. Contessa will get to saddle Sunshine Alpine one more time, in Saturday's $65,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes here at six furlongs, before likely shipping him to the West.

"I believe he's eventually going to California," said Contessa, who won his inner-track leading 41st race on Thursday. "This is winter racing, the horse likes the track, he's undefeated, and it's not like it's Secretariat we're running against in here."

, a Maryland-bred son of Gold Case, is 2 for 2, having won both his races sprinting. He closed powerfully in both races to win going away and was particularly strong in the stretch of his entry-level allowance win on Feb. 1. It was that performance that drew the offers for Sunshine Alpine, and co-owners Maggi Moss and the Sunshine Hill Stable decided to accept one.

Contessa, who had purchased Sunshine Alpine for $30,000, has never been averse to selling a good horse. The sale price of Sunshine Alpine was not disclosed. A few years ago, Contessa sold Peace Rules - a horse he bought for $30,000 - for $350,000 and Peace Rules went on to win more than $3 million for owner Ed Gann and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Had the sale of Sunshine Alpine not gone through, Contessa would likely have skipped the Capossela and looked for a second-level allowance race around two turns, then presumably run in the Gotham here on March 18.

"I'd like to be the guy who finds out how good he is around two turns," Contessa said. "But he was sold, and [changing trainers] would be his prerogative."

Kowal did not return phone calls seeking confirmation of his plans for Sunshine Alpine following the Capossela.

Migliore cleared to ride

Jockey Richard Migliore, injured in a paddock accident last Oct. 20 at Belmont Park, has received medical clearance to ride and began getting on horses in the morning in south Florida on Tuesday. Migliore said he remains on course to return to race riding on March 1 in New York.

Migliore arrived in south Florida on Monday and spent the next three mornings getting on horses at Payson Park and Palm Meadows, two training centers in south Florida.

"It's really going well," said Migliore, who suffered a broken leg and injured his Achilles tendon in a paddock accident at Belmont Park. "I feel great. I breezed a horse out of the gate [Wednesday] at Payson Park, and I feel like I'm really close. I got the okay from my doctor, and I told him that I wouldn't ride again until March 1. I kind of want to call and renege on the deal."

Migliore, who will turn 42 on March 14, said he felt sore in some areas, "but not as bad as I thought it could be."

"I did much more preparation in the gym this time before coming back than I've ever done before," Migliore said. "My fitness level is really good. Obviously, you have to ride to exactly simulate what you're doing, but as far as my air and my strength cardiovascular-wise and aerobic-wise, I feel great. I plan on being here for another week getting on horses and then head back to get on horses back in New York. By March 1st, I should be more than good to go."

Bold Decision gets green light

Trainer Laurie Lafavers said she received permission from the surviving members of Buckram Oak Farm to run Bold Decision in Sunday's $65,000 Hollie Hughes Stakes here at six furlongs.

Plans for all the Buckram Oak horses had been on hold following the death of Mahmoud Fustok, the head of Buckram Oak, on Feb. 9. Lafavers, who trains four horses for Buckram Oak, also entered Stars Above in a second-level allowance for Saturday.

Though bred like a sprinter, Bold Decision is a tall, lanky horse who is built more like a router. Lafavers has unsuccessfully tried to stretch Bold Decision out in distance, and his three wins have come at six furlongs or shorter. That includes a victory in the Say Florida Sandy Stakes for New York breds in June.

"I tried to stretch him out, but he doesn't want to," Lafavers said. "He just has so much speed. He's built to go a mile and a quarter."

Lafavers, who had trained horses for Mahmoud's brother Moustapha before getting affiliated with Buckram Oak, said a win in the Hollie Hughes would be special.

"I'd love for him to win for Mahmoud," Lafavers said. "When he sent me those horses he told me how much he loved them. With what horses I have for him this horse he really thought was a little special."

Toups may have concussion

Apprentice jockey Randall Toups was taken to North Shore University Hospital with a possible concussion after being tossed from his mount, Mambo Loco, in Thursday's fifth race. Toups's helmet came flying off when a trailing horse stepped on Toups, who remarkably got up and walked to the ambulance on his own.

Toups, who was also complaining of back pain, was taken off his remaining two mounts on the card.