02/10/2004 12:00AM

Trail continues for 'Action'


ARCADIA, Calif. - Following his fourth-place comeback Sunday in the Sham Stakes, Action This Day may now target the San Felipe Stakes on March 14. Action This Day rallied from last to fourth in the Sham, and was beaten 1 1/4 lengths in his first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 25.

"He ran nice, and it should take him a big step forward," said trainer Richard Mandella. "My main concern was that he'd be fresh, hook up with the leaders, and die on the vine. I didn't want that. I'll think very seriously about the San Felipe, then the Santa Anita Derby."

The San Felipe was delayed one day, to March 14, in order to accommodate live television, but Santa Anita's best 3-year-old race that weekend remains on

March 13. That is the Santa Anita Oaks, to which BC Juvenile Fillies winner Halfbridled will be aimed. Mandella opted to skip Sunday's Las Virgenes Stakes with Halfbridled, who missed some training early this month with a cough.

"Because of the cough, I was afraid if I ran her, I'd drive her back and have nothing," said Mandella. "She's never run like she needs a lot of practice. She'll run in the Oaks, the Ashland, and then we hope we have to worry about what to do next time."

Halfbridled is nominated to the Kentucky Derby.

Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the BC Classic and San Antonio Handicap on Jan. 31, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on Tuesday and will be heavily favored March 6 in the Santa Anita Handicap. Even with the $6 million Dubai World Cup looming, Mandella said the Big Cap "is a definite, and we hope he comes out just as good and goes right on to Dubai."

Irisheyesareflying not seriously hurt

Irisheyesareflying, who sank to the $10,000 claiming level this winter for trainer John Dolan, was not seriously injured in a $20,000 claiming race Sunday. Irisheyesareflying, who was claimed by Jack Carava in that race, was pulled up on the backstretch and taken off the track in the horse ambulance.

"So far, we can't find anything [wrong]," Carava said. "He's wreaking havoc around the barn, so he'll live to fight another day."

Irisheyesareflying is an 8-year-old with eight wins from 39 starts and earnings of $715,036. He won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in 2001 at Emerald Downs, the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in 2002 at Golden Gate, and the $250,000 California Cup Classic in 2001 at Santa Anita.

No Class Above for Las Virgenes

The Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on Sunday keeps getting easier. Trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday that Class Above will skip the race and aim instead for the Santa Anita Oaks.

"Physically, she's fine," said Baffert. "She just needs more weight, more bloom. She's definitely a Kentucky Oaks filly."

Baffert also said Santa Ynez stakes winner Yearly Report will run in the Las Virgenes "if she looks good this week."

Julie Krone would ride Yearly Report. Baffert said allowance sprint winner Friendly Michelle will definitely run in the Las Virgenes.

"She's training well," he said. "We'll find out if she can go a mile."

The Las Virgenes is headed by Hollywood Starlet winner Hollywood Story, whom Victor Espinoza will ride. A.P. Adventure steps up after winning the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

Other likely starters include Whoopi Cat, Stellar Jayne, and Wildwood Flower.

A.P. Adventure worked five furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 1:00.60.

Island Fashion possible for Santa Maria

Trainer Marcelo Polanco said he "does not want to over-race" Island Fashion, who already has won two Grade 1 races at the meet.

Polanco is tempted, however, to start Island Fashion in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on Monday, a race in which she was assigned high weight of 121 pounds and would likely be favored. Polanco said he and owner Jeff Nielsen would decide later in the week whether to start Island Fashion in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria. Island Fashion has won her last two races: the seven-furlong La Brea and seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap. As of Tuesday, Polanco said Island Fashion was "80-20" to start.

Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Adoration was assigned 118 pounds for the Santa Maria. Others expected are Bare Necessities, 118; Preeminence, 117; Star Parade, 114; Angel Gift, 112; and La Tour, 112. Bare Necessities worked five furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 1:01.80.

Bluesthestandard puts in best work

Bluesthestandard zipped three-eighths of a mile Tuesday in 35.80 seconds, best of the morning. A 7-year-old gelding, Bluesthestandard earned a 113 Beyer Speed Figure when he won the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap on Feb. 1 in 1:08.13.

"You'd think a horse coming off a three-month layoff and running 1:08-flat would be knocked out, but he's just not that kind of horse," said trainer Ted H. West.

Bluesthestandard is pointing toward the Grade 1, seven-furlong San Carlos Handicap on March 7.

Buddy Gil gets a Dubai invite

Buddy Gil returned to the track Tuesday, three days after finishing 10th in the Strub Stakes. Buddy Gil's tough trip in the Strub did not go unnoticed by racing officials in Dubai. On Monday, Buddy Gil was invited to the $6 million Dubai World Cup. Trainer Jeff Mullins has not announced plans for Buddy Gil, whose most recent win was in last year's Santa Anita Derby.