07/27/2004 12:00AM

Surgery 'safest thing' for Solis


DEL MAR, Calif. - Jockey Alex Solis was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday night to have a rod inserted into his back to support the T-5 vertebra that was fractured in an accident last Friday at Del Mar, said his agent, Scotty McClellan, on Tuesday afternoon.

The surgery was scheduled to be performed at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where Solis was taken immediately following Friday's accident. Solis, 40, also fractured three ribs and punctured a lung in the accident, which occurred when his mount, Golden K K, clipped the heels of Vegas Folly soon after turning into the stretch.

Solis had weighed the opinions of several specialists for three days before deciding to go ahead with the surgery. According to McClellan, "The doctors said the vertebra isn't stable and needs support."

"This is the safest thing to do," he said. "You don't want the vertebra to slide if he were to fall or get in a car accident. The stabilization increases the chances of not having that happen."

McClellan said the surgery was to be performed by Dr. Timothy Peppers, an orthopedist, and Dr. Howard Tung, a neurologist.

The fractured vertebra is in the middle of the back, between the shoulder blades.

"It's in an area where you don't do a lot of bending," McClellan said. "It'll be his choice whether the rod comes out when he comes back to ride, or if it stays in permanently. There's no reason he couldn't ride with it."

Solis will stay in the Del Mar area with his family after the surgery and do his initial rehabilitation locally. His layoff will last several months, McClellan said.

"One thing in his favor is he's a jock, and every one of them is so damn fit that whenever they give a time frame on when a jock will come back, they always seem to come back a month or two early," McClellan said.

During and Night Patrol drill

During and Night Patrol, who will take on Pleasantly Perfect in Sunday's $250,000 San Diego Handicap, had their final works in preparation for that race Tuesday morning at Del Mar.

During, who has not raced since finishing sixth in the Godolphin Mile on March 27 in Dubai, went five furlongs in 59.20 seconds. Night Patrol, who was third to Bayamo on the turf in the American Handicap on July 4 at Hollywood Park, went a half-mile in 47.80 seconds.

Night Patrol, an 8-year-old gelding, will be making his 55th lifetime start. This will be his 22nd race on dirt, but his first on Del Mar's main track.

"He's doing good, he's working well on dirt, and he's been improving," trainer Marcelo Polanco said Tuesday morning. "It's going to be a big test. He's going against a good horse."

The San Diego will be Night Patrol's third start since returning from an 11-month layoff. "He had a little bit of a tender ankle, so he got time off. We decided to freshen him and bring him back," Polanco said.

The San Diego field is also expected to include Choctaw Nation, Decorador, Reba's Gold, and Taste of Paradise. Nose the Trade and Snorter are possible.

Pleasantly Perfect was assigned top weight of 124 pounds for the 1 1/16-mile San Diego. It will be his first start since capturing the Dubai World Cup on March 27. During is next on the weights at 118 pounds.

Richard Mandella, the trainer of Pleasantly Perfect, said Tuesday that Mike Smith would ride Pleasantly Perfect in the San Diego. Solis had been Pleasantly Perfect's regular rider. The San Diego is a one-race opportunity for Smith, since Mandella already has committed to Jerry Bailey for two of Pleasantly Perfect's subsequent races, Del Mar's Pacific Classic on Aug. 22 and the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 30.

The Tin Man ready to return

The Tin Man, who has not raced since finishing fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, was supplemented by Mandella to Saturday's $75,000 Wickerr Handicap and could make his return in that race.

If The Tin Man runs, he will carry top weight of 123 pounds in the one-mile turf race, which would serve as a prep for the Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 29.

The Tin Man worked seven furlongs on turf Monday morning in 1:26.80.

"He twisted his ankle in the Breeders' Cup," said Mandella. "We gave him a nice rest. He's ready to go."

- Belleski was assigned top weight of 121 pounds for Friday's $75,000 Daisycutter Handicap, for female turf sprinters at five furlongs. Shezospiritual is next at 118 pounds.

- Trainer Bob Baffert said he was moving Victory U. S. A. to the turf for Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap because there are no unrestricted dirt stakes exclusively for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar. Miss Vegas is expected to be favored in the San Clemente. She was assigned 121 pounds, two more than Victory U. S. A.

- Trainer Mike Mitchell said Kela, the winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap, would return later this meet in either the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap on Aug. 15 or the one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 5.

- After the first week of the meeting, Victor Espinoza and Corey Nakatani are tied atop the jockey standings with seven victories, one more than Tyler Baze. Bill Spawr leads all trainers with four victories. Five trainers are tied for second with three wins.