12/09/2004 1:00AM

Three drop out of Futurity


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Three juveniles who were considered candidates for the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 18 - Chips Are Down, Spanish Chestnut, and Sunny Sky - will not start, their trainers said on Thursday.

The top three contenders in the Futurity - Declan's Moon, Proud Accolade, and Wilko - are trying to solidify their credentials for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding 2-year-old male.

Chips Are Down and Spanish Chestnut finished one-two in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 3, while Sunny Sky was third in the Generous Stakes over a mile on turf on Nov. 27, his first start in the United States.

All three will be pointed for the $150,000 San Rafael Stakes over a mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 15. The San Rafael is the first graded stakes around two turns for 3-year-olds in California.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Chips Are Down should improve with more time between starts. Chips Are Down had finished second in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 14 before his recent victory.

"It's a little too close," Baffert said of the Futurity. "The Futurity is coming up pretty tough for two weeks' rest."

Spanish Chestnut finished second in the Lone Star Juvenile on the Breeders' Cup undercard on Nov. 30. The Dec. 3 allowance race was his first start beyond a sprint.

"He was a bit tired," trainer Patrick Biancone said.

Sunny Sky has never run on dirt. Racing in France for Maurice Zilber, he won a listed stakes over a mile on turf last month. In the Generous Stakes, Sunny Sky closed from 10th in the final half-mile to finish third, a length behind Dubleo. He has been transferred to trainer Julio Canani, who has decided to pass the Futurity.

"I think it would be too much," Canani said.

The Futurity has a prospective field of eight. Aside from the three leading contenders, other probable starters are Bushwacker, General Jumbo, Giacomo, Lucky Bid, and Southern Africa.

Trainer Ron McAnally said that Lucky Bid is far from certain to run. Trainer Bill Currin said Bushwacker's status depends on a workout this weekend.

Southern Africa finished fourth behind Declan's Moon in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes, his first start in the United States. Trained by Mike Puhich for Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Southern Africa previously raced in England.

In three starts in England, all on turf, he won twice, including an allowance race over seven furlongs at Ascot in late July. He was second in a stakes over five furlongs at Sandown Park in early July.

Puhich said that Southern Africa must be supplemented to the Futurity for $10,000, which the Kirkwoods are likely to do.

"More than likely, he'll run," Puhich said. "He's been training awesome since his last start. They have to supplement, but I'd think they probably will."

Puhich said the timing of the Hollywood Futurity works better than the San Rafael Stakes, even though the Futurity will be a tougher race. Southern Africa had three months between his last start in England and the Prevue, and Puhich wants to avoid an additional two-month layoff to the San Rafael.

"The race will answer a lot of questions where we can place him," Puhich said of the Futurity.

"I was real pleased with the way he ran. He acts like he wants to go two turns."

Denebola and Light Jig retired

The major stakes winners Denebola and Light Jig have been retired, trainer Bobby Frankel said earlier this week. Both have been sent to Kentucky to be bred.

Denebola never started for Frankel. In a 10-race career primarily in France, she won two stakes, including the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac in October 2003. In her only start in the United States, Denebola finished eighth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28.

The race was her final start for trainer Pascal Bary. Owned by

the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Holdings, Denebola, 4, was expected to be campaigned by Frankel in 2005. By Storm Cat, Denebola earned $338,658.

"She's worth more as a broodmare," Frankel said. "I totally agree with them to retire her."

Light Jig made her final start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, finishing seventh.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Light Jig won 5 of 14 starts and $537,819. Stakes placed in France while trained by Bary, she won 4 of 7 starts in the United States with Frankel this year. Her campaign was highlighted by victories in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in June and the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October.

Showtime for $4.5 million colt

Fusaichi Samurai, purchased for a record $4.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-olds in training sale in February, makes his career debut in Saturday's fourth race.

The colt is owned by Fusao Sekiguchi and trained by Neil Drysdale, the same connections as 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, the sire of Fusaichi Samurai.

"He's a big horse," Drysdale said. "He was big when he was purchased in February, and he continued to grow. We've given him time for him to grow. Hopefully, he has a bright future."

The purchase price was a record for a 2-year-old purchased at auction. The previous record of $3.1 million was set at the same Calder sale for a Stephen Got Even colt.

Fusaichi Samurai has six opponents in Saturday's race, a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs. Victor Espinoza has the mount.

Drysdale is taking a cautious approach to Fusaichi Samurai's debut. Fusaichi Samurai has had six recorded workouts in the last two months, including a bullet three furlongs in 36 seconds Nov. 4.

"Obviously, his training has been compromised in the last few days because of the weather. That might have some bearing on it," Drysdale said. "But I'm happy with the way he's training."