11/11/2005 1:00AM

Taste of Paradise retired at 6

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Taste of Paradise, winning the Vosburgh, won 6 of 28 starts.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Taste of Paradise, who made a late-season bid for the sprint championship with a victory in the Vosburgh Stakes and then an unlucky second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, will not get another chance to polish his resume. His trainer, Gary Mandella, on Friday said that Taste of Paradise had developed a problem with the tendon in his left front leg and was retired.

"He came off the track [Thursday] and had a mark on his left front tendon," Mandella said at his Hollywood Park barn on Friday morning. "We did an ultrasound, and there was a suspicious area. If he works or runs on it, it will bow. It's not bowed yet, but it would be an inevitability. He wouldn't be able to run well enough to warrant going on, so he's retired."

had been scheduled to return to New York for the Cigar Mile later this month at Aqueduct.

"I was going to work him on Sunday, and if he worked well, he was going to go," Mandella said. "This made us make up our mind."

Mandella said that David Bloom, who last year bought out a partner and subsequently owned Taste of Paradise outright, was weighing offers on where to stand Taste of Paradise at stud.

"He's had a number of phone calls," Mandella said. "There's a number of different offers from different states, and one out of the country. He was fast enough, a Grade 1-winning millionaire, to deserve a shot."

Taste of Paradise, 6, is a son of Conquistador Cielo. He won six times in 28 starts and earned $1,019,455.

"He got good for the big races this fall," said Mandella, who trained Taste of Paradise for the past year. "We figured him out at the right time. We had a good year with him."

Diamond Omi seriously ill

Diamond Omi, winner of the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita before finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has been hospitalized since late last week with pneumonia. Trainer Bob Baffert said Diamond Omi is being treated at Chino Valley Equine Hospital and "is in really bad shape." Diamond Omi contracted a fever after returning from the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, and her condition steadily worsened. Owned by Donald Dizney, Diamond Omi is a daughter of Giant's Causeway and has two wins from five starts.

Lengthy rehab benefits Valdivia

It was exactly two months from the time jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. was injured at Del Mar until he returned for the final days of Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, but the wait was worth it. In his third day back, Valdivia was reunited with McCann's Mojave and captured the California Cup Classic.

Valdivia injured his right knee in an accident at Del Mar on Sept. 4. He had a small fracture of his tibia, cartilage damage, and a torn meniscus. His injuries were repaired by noted Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Tibone.

"The tibia fracture was minimal," Valdivia said this week at Hollywood Park. "It didn't need screws or a cast. That alone would have kept me out a matter of weeks. But when Dr. Tibone went in to repair the meniscus, he found some cartilage, the size of a quarter, had come off my femur. Having to repair that is what kept me out so long. I was disappointed at first, because even though I didn't have anything specifically for the Breeders' Cup at the time, it kept me out of the preps that you use in hopes of going to the big dance.

"I had to work extra hard on my therapy. It was a matter of how much pain I could tolerate. I'd go to the gym three times a week for an hour and a half or two hours. I wanted to make sure my leg was 110 percent before I came back. I didn't want to be conscious of any pain."

Valdivia returned on Nov. 4, and in his first race back saw jockey Alex Solis take a tumble. Solis hurt his knee and was forced to miss last weekend's races, including a scheduled mount on McCann's Mojave. Valdivia stepped right in.

"I was glad to get back on him, but you always wish it was under different circumstances," Valdivia said. "I mean, the first race I come back, Alex goes down."

Valdivia said he was sore after his first day back, but has felt fine since.

"I used some muscles I hadn't used in a while," Valdivia said. "Now, I feel like I'm back to my old routine. I'm lucky the surgery was a success. And I told the physical therapist to push me to the limit, and we never had a day where we took a step backwards."

* Hollywood Park on weekends throughout this meet will offer breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for owners and trainers at a backside horsemen's lounge. In addition to indoor tables, there will be outdoor tables with heat lamps, according to Martin Panza, Hollywood Park's racing secretary. "We'll have an omelette chef and a limited menu," he said. "It'll be a nice place for owners who want to come out and see their horses on weekends."

* Some Bold Thrill, who won Thursday's third race, crossed the wire first despite breaking down just before the wire. He was pulled up within 70 yards by jockey Rene Douglas, but his injuries were so severe he had to be euthanized. Two races later, another maiden claimer, Within Time, broke down entering the far turn and also had to be destroyed.

* Michael Duncan, who races as Moonlight Racing, has been restored to good standing by Hollywood Park's stewards after satisfying an outstanding financial obligation to trainer Bob Baffert. Duncan had been suspended by Oak Tree's stewards on Oct. 21.

* Trainer Mike Mitchell swept the daily double on Thursday.

- additional reporting by Brad Free