01/30/2007 12:00AM

Tommy Town moves 28 to O'Neill barn


ARCADIA, Calif. - The largest racing stable in Southern California grew bigger Tuesday when trainer Doug O'Neill picked up 28 horses owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds that previously were trained by Manny Marques.

Tommy Town owner Tom Stull confirmed Tuesday the farm had severed ties with Marques and that O'Neill was the farm's new trainer.

"I don't want to say anything bad about Manny; it was a business decision," Stull said.

Hired in August, Marques won 9 races from 77 starts for Tommy Town.

"We just felt we weren't winning as many races as we thought we should," Stull said, adding that O'Neill "wins a lot of races, and everything I've heard about him as far as integrity, honesty, and communication skills" was positive.

O'Neill entered the week having started 112 horses at the meet, nearly twice as many as any other trainer, with 11 wins. O'Neill said that over the next few days he will inspect the Tommy Town horses, which include Grade 3 Generous winner Whatsthescript; well-regarded 3-year-filly Silent Fusaichi from Europe; sharp maiden winner You Are the Answer; and Light of the World, an Old Topper colt whom Stull holds in high regard.

Tommy Town, located in Santa Ynez, stands California sires Old Topper, Ministers Wild Cat, and Valid Wager.

Hot first-out winner Ravel goes in Sham

Hollywood Futurity runner-up Liquidity, trained by O'Neill, will be favored in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Saturday, but the 1 1/8-mile race also marks the reappearance of an impressive Hollywood Park maiden winner, Ravel. A Fusaichi Pegasus colt who won his second start by 3 1/2 lengths, Ravel will race for the first time since that Dec. 3 maiden win.

"He's a lightly made horse, so the spacing is good," said Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Ravel earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure in his win, which was flattered when runner-up Level Red returned to win.

How good is Ravel? "This race will tell us a lot," McCarthy said, adding "any horse that breaks his maiden the way he did . . . you think big things."

In addition to Liquidity and Ravel, the Sham field was expected to include California Breeders' winner Pirates Deputy, Sunland shipper Song of Navarone, and Silent Soul.

Boboman undergoes throat operation

Hollywood Turf Cup winner Boboman underwent throat surgery to correct a breathing problem after a last-place finish Jan. 21 in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes. Trainer Richard Mandella said a myectomy was performed on Boboman after he displaced his soft palate in the San Marcos. "He will only miss a week; we'll have him back to the races in six weeks or so," Mandella said.

Meanwhile, Mandella expects an improved effort from El Roblar, who will make his second start back on Sunday in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap. El Roblar had been off since he finished a troubled fourth in a turf sprint Jan. 10.

"He had a messed-up race," Mandella said "He broke slow, rushed, and finished well the last eighth. He came back and breezed really good."

El Roblar will switch riders, from Alex Solis to Richard Migliore.

A growing field of older handicap runners is expected for the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio including Backus, Ball Four, El Roblar, Fairbanks, Molengao, Preachinatthebar, and Southern Africa.

High Limit straight New Orleans Handicap?

The 2006 Strub winner, High Limit, is nearing a comeback, and trainer Bobby Frankel will follow a familiar pattern. Two years ago, he shipped High Limit to Fair Grounds for his first start as a 3-year-old, and he won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. This year, High Limit's sights are set on a Grade 2, $500,000 race March 10 at the same track.

"I might run him first time out in the New Orleans Handicap," Frankel said Tuesday after High Limit worked five furlongs. "I don't think I have time to get a race into him, and we know he likes that track."

High Limit, 5 of 12 lifetime, would face Gradeo3 Aqueduct Handicap winner Liquor Cabinet in the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans.

King's Drama could join High Limit on March 10 at Fair Grounds. King's Drama returned to the track Tuesday for the first time since his legs were scraped up winning the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap on Dec. 31, and Frankel said he could target the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap.

* Fairbanks, a Giant's Causeway 4-year-old who crushed a second-level allowance field Jan. 3 at Gulfstream, is expected to enter both the Strub Stakes on Saturday and the San Antonio on Sunday. Probable starters for the Strub include Midnight Lute, Awesome Gem, Arson Squad, and Brother Derek.

* Jockey Victor Espinoza is expected to appeal a three-day suspension that was scheduled to begin Saturday, according to agent Tony Matos. "We are considering appealing it," Matos said, regarding the suspension Espinoza received for an infraction in race 4 on Jan. 26.

* Sunshine Millions Oaks winner Mistical Plan is 3 for 4 at seven furlongs or shorter, but 0 for 3 at a mile or more. Yet after her Oaks win Saturday, trainer O'Neill said she may have earned another shot at two turns. "We changed bits on her, and she showed a new dimension," he said. "I think it leaves the door open to stretch her out again, but I don't know where."