11/09/2001 12:00AM

Tidy return on Lady George investment

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Gordon Severson has put his VCR through quite a workout in the week since Lady George won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

"I've watched it quite a few times," he admitted on Thursday.

Severson, along with trainer Tony Locke, enjoyed the biggest wins of their careers when 15-1 Lady George won the $125,000 Juvenile Fillies.

The win justified Severson's $2,500 investment for Lady George at the 2000 Baretts October Yearling Sale, a bargain considering she has earned $130,976.

"She was the best thing I saw at the sale," Severson said. "She was gorgeous."

On a day when four of the seven winners of races worth $125,000 or more were acquired by their current owners through claims, Lady George's victory was still a shock, proving that California Cup winners come from all price ranges.

Severson said Lady George will have one more start this year, in the $200,000 Miesque Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23, before being turned out for the year.

Already, Lady George has made seven starts, including a second-place finish in the Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 29 and a seventh in the Hidden Light Stakes on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 19.

"After the grass race, she was so tired," Severson said on Thursday. "She galloped today and she's never been better."

Cal Cup Day to keep spot on calendar

With the Breeders' Cup scheduled for the final Saturday in October for the next several years, it is likely that the California Cup will be run on the first Saturday in November. This year's position on the calendar was the first time in five years the California Cup had followed the Breeders' Cup.

The scheduling has not been solidified between the host organization, the Oak Tree Racing Association, and the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, but both sides were elated by the business returns of this year's running.

The overall handle of $19.9 million set an all-time record and the ontrack attendance of 37,184 was the third highest in the 12-year history of the Cal Cup.

"When you can offer large competitive fields you can get attention," said Doug Burge, the CTBA's general manager. "We'd love to bottle up this year and continue it down the road."

No conflict with proposed State Challenge

An early-November position for the California Cup would not interfere with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's developing plan for the Great State Challenge, tentatively scheduled to start next year and would draw statebreds from across the nation for six stakes.

Earlier this year, the Friday of Breeders' Cup weekend was considered a possible date, but such a plan would detract from existing events such as the California Cup, New York Showcase Day, and Maryland Million, all run in late October or early November.

According to Burge, officials have discussed a Thanksgiving weekend date for the Great State Challenge at a warm-weather track. Such a date would allow enough time between events to allow horses to compete in both. Many details, including locations and race conditions have not been worked out, but six races worth up to $250,000 are being considered.

According to Burge, the NTRA would pay $150,000 of each race's purse, the Breeders' Cup would pay $50,000 per race to horses eligible to its program, and the states of origin of the horses who earn prize money would pay the remaining $50,000.

For example, if a California-bred finished first, the CTBA would pay $30,000 to the purse, or 60 percent of the $50,000. If the Cal-bred finished second, the CTBA would pay $10,000.

Each race would be worth at least $200,000, pending Breeders' Cup eligibility of the top finishers.