09/26/2001 11:00PM

Tribal Rule's mystery ailment gone


ARCADIA, Calif. - Tribal Rule, an impressive winner of two sprints at Del Mar, has returned to training at Santa Anita after veterinarians were unable to detect a previously diagnosed shoulder injury.

But a two-week absence from serious training is likely to keep the 5-year-old Tribal Rule, who has never started in a stakes, from an attempt at the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which owners Marty and Pam Wygod had for a goal this fall.

The Wygods were hoping to use an early October prep race as a springboard into the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which frequently draws an oversubscribed field. Without a stakes appearance, Wygod acknowledged it will be difficult to convince the selection committee into granting Tribal Rule an entry. On Thursday, Wygod and trainer Julio Canani were searching for an upcoming stakes for Tribal Rule, but had not finalized any plans. Many of the top preps for the Breeders' Cup Sprint are being run next weekend, which may be too close for Tribal Rule.

"I don't think we can get in the Breeders' Cup unless we can win an allowance race by eight and get in, but it's not likely," Marty Wygod said. "We missed 13 days of training."

Tribal Rule was diagnosed with a shoulder injury by veterinarians at the racetrack last week and was sent to Wygod's farm in central California on Monday. After being inspected by farm manager Russell Drake and two veterinarians at the nearly Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic, the injury was not detected and Tribal Rule was vanned back to Santa Anita late Wednesday.

Wygod said it is not clear why the original diagnosis was made, speculating that the wrong test results may have been read.

"The set of circumstances are hard to believe," Wygod said.

Vacations suit A la Reine well

On Wednesday, in her first start since July 20, A la Reine scored her first stakes win in the $110,400 Senator Ken Maddy Handicap.

"We don't get to run her too often, but she's got a heart of gold," Mandella said. "We had a little problem at Del Mar and we aimed for this to have her fresh."

Ridden by Alex Solis, A la Reine ($10.80) beat 16-1 Nanogram by a half-length, running about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:13.27. Global finished third, with Serenita, the 9-5 favorite, finishing fifth in a field of eight fillies and mares.

Mandella does not have any specific plans for A la Reine. He said the $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Nov. 4 may be too far for her best race.

"I'd say between this distance and a mile is best for her," he said.

Opening day served as fund-raiser

The Maddy was the top race on the first day of the Oak Tree meeting, which was dedicated to the families and victims of the recent terrorist attacks. Throughout opening day, donations were accepted on behalf of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On Saturday, a check for $50,000 will be presented to Red Cross officials, according to Sherwood Chillingworth, vice president of Oak Tree.

Chillingworth said approximately $12,500 was received from the public. Benoit and Associates, which handles winner's circle photos, donated $1,392 from the sale of photos at Arlington Park and Santa Anita. In addition, jockeys David Flores ($800) and Laffit Pincay, Jr. ($1,845) donated their earnings from Wednesday. Oak Tree added to those sums to make the total donation $50,000, Chillingworth said.

Wednesday's card drew an ontrack crowd of 11,521, a gain of 4,217 over last year's opening day. Part of the gain was attributed to a local bus strike last year that prevented some fans from reaching the track. On Wednesday, the higher crowd led to a modest increase in ontrack handle. Overall handle also was higher, totaling $8,818,814, a gain of $106,964 over last year.

Startac to pass on Cup

Startac, unraced since winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August, will not be pointed for the Breeders' Cup Turf, trainer Laura de Seroux said.

Instead, the 3-year-old Startac is scheduled to make his next start in the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Oct. 13.

Startac has not started for de Seroux. In late August at Del Mar, the Allen Paulson Living Trust, which owns Startac, transferred several horses from trainer Simon Bray to de Seroux.

*Trainer Brinnard Millington saddled his first Santa Anita winner when Dini Dee caused an upset at 62-1 in Wednesday's sixth race. Millington, 54, trains primarily on California's fair circuit. He previously trained in New York and has four horses based at Fairplex Park. Dini Dee ($126.80) won a three-horse photo, finishing a neck in front of 104-1 Quick Save, who was a neck in front of 5-1 River of Truth. The upset resulted in record payoffs at an Oak Tree meeting for a $1 exacta ($3,022.20), $1 trifecta ($52,892.50), and $2 quinella ($1,949.60).

*Oak Tree and Keeneland will offer a $1 pick four on Oct. 7 combining some of the top Breeders' Cup prep races on that day, according to Chillingworth. The bet will include the Shadwell Mile and Spinster Stakes from Keeneland and the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile and Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap from Oak Tree. Commissions earned by the two tracks from the pick four will go the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities' New York Heroes Fund, according to Chillingworth. The fund benefits victims and families of the terrorist attacks.