01/21/2004 12:00AM

Timing tight for St Averil


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Rafael Becerra and owner Stan Fulton will map a spring campaign for Santa Catalina Stakes winner St Averil in coming days, while facing the dilemma of an imperfect Santa Anita stakes schedule for 3-year-olds. St Averil emerged as a leading spring classics candidates by winning for the second time in three starts on Saturday, yet his options are limited.

"One mile is too short, and 20 days is too close," Becerra said, referring to the March 6 San Rafael and March 14 San Felipe.

The San Rafael is run at a distance of one mile, while the San Felipe is run at 1 1/16 miles, but it comes up just 20 days before the Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Becerra said St Averil emerged from the Santa Catalina in good order and would not wheel back Feb. 8 in the $75,000 Sham Stakes.

Rahy Dolly, the Becerra-Fulton 3-year-old filly who finished fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez on Monday, resented rating tactics, the trainer said. "Her excuse is that wasn't her style," Becerra said. "Sometimes you try to teach them and it doesn't work out. For sure it won't happen again."

Rahy Dolly finished second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet before getting beaten 13 1/2 lengths in the Santa Ynez.

Rating lessons in order for Lucky Pulpit

Lucky Pulpit utilized his natural speed to finish second in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes on Saturday, but trainer Cliff Sise hopes the 3-year-old will learn to conserve his energy.

"He can't make the lead too soon - he gets lost," Sise said. "It's like he's looking for company. We're going to start teaching him to rate in the mornings."

Lucky Pulpit, owned by his breeder, Larry Williams, will have plenty of time for his lessons. Sise said he was unlikely to run Lucky Pulpit again until the San Rafael or San Felipe.

"He's still growing, and he's temperamental," Sise said. "I think we'll wait until March to run. And I don't see why we should ship around."

While Lucky Pulpit has joined the early-season elite of the 3-year-old division, his dam will be bred back to one of the 3-year-old elite of last year. Sise said that Lucky Soph, by Cozzene, will be bred this spring to Empire Maker.

That's an Outrage to get a break

That's an Outrage could be off the Derby trail. Trainer Mike Puhich said the colt "bled real bad" while finishing ninth in the Santa Catalina and that he would give the colt "a little bit of time, and just see how he does. It might end up being a blessing in disguise getting off that trail. I think he's a good horse."

A son of Quiet American, That's an Outrage finished third in the Hollywood Futurity, and Puhich suspects he may have bled in that race. "We knew we were about a work short with him going in, but the way he galloped to those leaders . . . I should have scoped him," Puhich said.

That's an Outrage previously finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Pleasantly Perfect works a mile

Pleasantly Perfect, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner, on Wednesday turned in his final major workout before his racing return, going a mile in 1:37.40 under jockey Alex Solis. "That was terrific, especially with no company," said his trainer, Richard Mandella.

Pleasantly Perfect will have one more short workout before he returns Jan. 31 in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap.

Despite not having raced in more than three months, Pleasantly Perfect will return in peak form, according to Mandella. "He used to be terribly lazy, but in the last year, he's gotten stronger and stronger," he said.

Solis concurred, and said Pleasantly Perfect is an improved horse this year.

"He's a lot more confident, stronger, sharper," Solis said. "Horses are so competitive, it's like they know when they have done something great. It might sound crazy, but it's the truth."

Pleasantly Perfect's main rival in the San Antonio may be Fleetstreet Dancer, who worked six furlongs Wednesday at Hollywood Park in 1:12.80 for trainer Doug O'Neill.

* As of Wednesday afternoon, jockey Pat Valenzuela had not announced the hiring of a new agent. Valenzuela and Nick Cosato split last weekend. Bob Meldahl, currently the agent for Mike Smith, declined to elaborate on discussions with Valenzuela, if any. Asked if he would be representing Valenzuela, Meldahl said, "Nothing has been confirmed."

* With Ema Bovary, the leading female sprinter in northern California, out of the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on Sunday, the expected Santa Monica field, in order of assigned weight, is Sightseek, 122; Island Fashion, 120; Got Koko, 119; Buffythecenterfold, 114; and Sparkling Ava, 109.

* An impressive maiden win Sunday by Quinton's Gold Rush has catapulted the colt onto the Derby trail, according to trainer Mike Mitchell. He said the colt would run March 6 in the San Rafael. A 50 percent interest in Quinton's Gold Rush was purchased by Padua Stables before his win Sunday. Quinton's Gold Rush earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 in the maiden race.