06/23/2003 12:00AM

Top fillies tabbed for American Oaks


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The list of 14 3-year-old fillies invited to the $750,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 5 is loaded with runners who have excelled in stakes in Europe and at Eastern tracks this year.

Invitations were sent over the weekend to Atlantic Ocean, Demitrova, Fortuitous, Gal O Gal, Go for Glamour, Golden Nepi, Mandela, Meridiana, Ocean Drive, Personal Legend, Quero Quero, Sand Springs, Santa Catarina, and Welcome Millennium.

The American Oaks is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf and was inaugurated last year.

The 14 can be divided into four groups - fillies who have raced primarily in Southern California, those bought with the American Oaks as a goal, shippers from across the country, and European shippers.

Only three of the invitees have started at this meeting - Quero Quero and Atlantic Ocean finished one-two in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 7, and Santa Catarina won the Hollywood Oaks on dirt June 14. Santa Catarina has yet to start on turf and is scheduled to work on the surface Thursday.

Go for Glamour is based at Hollywood Park but has not started since finishing last in the Kentucky Oaks.

Golden Nepi and Welcome Millennium, who have won stakes in Europe, will race for California-based stables. Welcome Millennium has been with trainer Ron McAnally for a few weeks. Golden Nepi, winner of the Italian 1000 Guineas in April, is booked to join trainer Laura de Seroux this week.

Three other fillies - Dimitrova, Mandela, and Meridiana - are arriving from Europe.

Five fillies are based in other parts of the country - Fortuitous, Gal O Gal, Ocean Drive, Personal Legend, and Sand Springs.

Sand Springs and Personal Legend finished first and second in the Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 14. Personal Legend is trained by Bobby Frankel, who has a stable at Hollywood Park but has sent most of his top horses to New York this summer.

Martin Panza, the Hollywood Park racing secretary, said that 11 fillies are on a provisional list for those whose connections want berths should any of the original invitees back out.

"We're trying to make this a 14-horse field," he said. "We're trying to make this an international event. You have to invite the best horses. When this becomes a graded stakes, it will be tougher to get into."

One filly on the provisional list, Liska, who was group stakes placed in France this year, worked on turf Sunday for de Seroux. Rutters Renegade, another American Oaks hopeful, worked on turf for trainer Gary Mandella. Rutters Renegade could be rerouted to the $100,000 Flawlessly Stakes over a mile on turf on July 6 if a berth in the Oaks is not available.

Tates Creek to lead small field

Megahertz and Dublino, the first two finishers from the 2002 American Oaks, are among the probables for Saturday's $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

The field is led by Tates Creek, who won the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 26, outfinishing Dublino and Megahertz. Frankel trains Tates Creek and Megahertz. Other probables in what is expected to be a small field are Damaschino and Voodoo Dancer.

On Sunday, Dublino worked a half-mile on turf in 49 seconds. She will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who replaces Kent Desormeaux.

In the Gamely, Tates Creek finished a length in front of Dublino, but de Seroux said that Dublino lost a shoe during the running. "They were still flying," she said of the stretch run.

In the 2002 American Oaks, Dublino finished first, a half-length in front of Megahertz, but was disqualified and placed second for interfering with her rival in the final furlong.

Desormeaux to return Sunday

Desormeaux is riding in Japan on Saturday, but he will resume riding at Hollywood Park on Sunday when he is booked to partner with Just Wonder in the $200,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Private Chef, the winner of the Will Rogers Handicap on May 25 in his first start against winners, is the likely favorite in a small field. Other candidates include Bis Repetitas, Ender's Shadow, and Fairly Ransom, a European import trained by McAnally.

Golden Apples gets in shape

One filly missing from the Beverly Hills Handicap is Golden Apples, who won the Eclipse Award as the champion turf female of 2002.

Unraced since early December after undergoing surgery to have bone chips removed from an ankle, Golden Apples is preparing for a comeback in the $400,000 John Mabee Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on July 26. The race was formerly known as the Ramona Handicap.

Since early May, Golden Apples has worked weekly on turf. On Sunday, she breezed six furlongs in 1:14 under jockey Patrick Valenzuela. During the workout, Golden Apples tracked a stablemate to the top of the stretch and took the lead past the eighth pole. She finished two lengths in front.

Trainer Ben Cecil has the $700,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 16 and the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 as long-term goals.

"She's pretty fit now," Cecil said. "I wanted her dead fit so I don't have to do much before the Beverly D. It's three weeks back, and I want her as fit as I can."

Valenzuela to appeal - again

Valenzuela, the leading rider at the meeting, intends to appeal a five-day suspension he was given by stewards on Saturday for his role in a double disqualification last week.

The move would bring to 11 the number of days that Valenzuela is appealing. He was given two three-day suspensions earlier at this meeting.

In Thursday's fourth race, Valenzuela was cited for causing interference that led to his mount, Natural Treasure, being disqualified from third to fourth.

Jockey Felipe Martinez also was given a suspension for his role in the double disqualification. Martinez was suspended for three days - Friday through Sunday - for causing interference. Martinez's mount, Siracoque, finished second but was demoted to sixth.

Steward Pete Pedersen said Valenzuela's previous suspensions at this meeting were a factor in the difference between the penalties for the two riders.

"He has been warned a number of times," Pedersen said. "He rides more races than anyone and is liable to be in more problems."

Valenzuela rode three winners on Sunday. Going into Wednesday's program, Valenzuela, who won the riding title at this meeting last year, had 57 winners, five more than Victor Espinoza.

Grey Memo back from farm

Grey Memo, the millionaire California-bred, has returned to trainer Warren Stute's stable after being given nearly two months off to recover from a quarter crack. A winner of 8 of 45 starts and $1.7 million, Grey Memo finished seventh in the Tiznow Stakes on April 26.

Stute decided to bring Grey Memo back into training after inspecting him at Ridgeley Farm last week. The California Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November is a long-term goal.