10/04/2004 12:00AM

Sweet Catomine gets hot as Roman Ruler cools off

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Much of this past weekend's Breeders' Cup prep races at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting must be viewed through the prism of expectations, because the same performance can be viewed differently depending on what was expected.

And in that regard, it was the 2-year-old filly Sweet Catomine who made the biggest leap forward. She looked like a big, lumbering filly beating a bunch of slowpokes in the Del Mar Debutante, but her powerful victory in Saturday's put her in position to knock off divisional leader Sense of Style in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park.

Conversely, Roman Ruler, who turned in a pair of electrifying performances at Del Mar, did not look as sharp while romping against three overmatched rivals in Sunday's . He heads to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile as one of the top contenders, but not the overwhelming choice he might have been if he had run to expectations Sunday.

There were four other races with Breeders' Cup implications at Santa Anita this past weekend. Island Fashion returned from a lengthy layoff and punched her ticket to the Breeders' Cup Distaff with a game victory in the , but neither is expected to move on to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Sweet Catomine ran "super," her trainer, Julio Canani, said Monday morning.

"She did what she was supposed to do," he said. "She was really relaxed. She was professional leaving the gate. She improved a lot from her second race."

Sweet Catomine is a large, powerful filly. She is far more advanced from a physical maturity standpoint than others her age. That includes Oak Leaf runner-up Splendid Blended, a slightly built filly whom trainer Neil Drysdale said will bypass the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"I don't know that she's ready for that now," Drysdale said. "She'll make a lovely 3-year-old."

Roman Ruler turned in a confounding performance while wearing blinkers for the first time. He behaved better in the post parade than in prior starts, but he was far too eager the first part of the race, then went into a high-loping cruise control once he inhaled his outmatched rivals.

"He was a little fresh," said his trainer, Bob Baffert. "A lot of people think it was the blinkers, but I went easy on him this week. That's why he was fresh. I think a lot of people expected him to lap the field. We got a two-turn race into him. Once a horse goes two turns, they don't get as rank the next time.

"I'm happy with it. It was a paid workout. And he didn't get tired, like he did after the Del Mar Futurity."

Baffert said he might use a less restrictive set of blinkers on Roman Ruler in the Breeders' Cup.

Roman Ruler is a ridgling, and there is a theory that the undescended testicle makes him uncomfortable. With the Breeders' Cup only weeks away, any possibility of removing that testicle will have to wait until after the Breeders' Cup, at the least. A.P. Indy is among the many top racehorses who were ridglings.

Island Fashion and Elloluv, who finished first and second in the Lady's Secret, both came out of the race well and will head to the Distaff, their trainers said.

"It was a great race, especially because of the time off," said Marcelo Polanco, who trains Island Fashion. "I did have a lot of hope for her, but I didn't want to kill her coming into the race, because the most important race is the next one. We weren't focused on winning. We wanted to get her fit for the next one. But you saw what she is."

Craig Dollase said he plans "to go on to the big dance" with Elloluv, who was second in last year's Distaff.

The top two finishers in the Hirsch, Star Over the Bay and Sarafan, will move on to the Breeders' Cup Turf. Star Over the Bay is one of the few locals to have raced previously at Lone Star. He finished second there June 19 in the Dallas Turf Cup in his first start after being claimed by trainer Mike Mitchell. He has won three straight since.

Sarafan "I suppose should go," said his trainer, Drysdale.

Bayamo, the 7-5 favorite in the Hirsch, suffered fractured sesamoid bones and torn suspensory ligaments in his left front leg during the race. It is a career-ending injury. Canani, his trainer, said surgery would be performed on the 5-year-old gelding "so he can be a riding horse in a couple of years."

Canani said another of his horses, the allowance runner Dancing Warrior, also fractured sesamoids in a turf race over the weekend.

"The grass course is the worst," said Canani, who called the turf a "highway."

Light Jig, the Yellow Ribbon winner, rebounded from a disappointing race at Del Mar.

"She was colicky that day," Frankel said from New York. "She was dull in the paddock, and she ran like it."

She will go to the Breeders' Cup, but Frankel said Goodwood winner Lundy's Liability would likely skip the Classic to await the Japan Cup Dirt. Total Impact also is likely to head to the Japan Cup Dirt, trainer Laura de Seroux said.