10/06/2004 11:00PM

Tsigane prepared to turn season around


ARCADIA, Calif. - Every good team has a bench, which is how trainer Julio Canani can justify starting Tsigane in Saturday's $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita and leaving top turf horse Special Ring in the barn.

From Canani's perspective, Special Ring is best being trained up to the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. Tsigane is attempting to earn a lucrative prize in the Oak Tree Mile.

Out for three months during the summer with a tender foot, Tsigane can salvage his season with a victory Saturday. Whether to supplement Tsigane to the Breeders' Cup Mile has yet to come up between Canani and owners Prestonwood Farm.

"I don't want to think about it," Canani said. "They'd have to put up a lot of money."

starts as a top contender in a field of seven in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile, which includes Singletary, who was second in the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park in May, and the filly Musical Chimes, who won the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in July.

Needwood Blade returns a week after winning the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Singletary and Musical Chimes are using the race as a prep for the Breeders' Cup.

has not started since the Shoemaker Mile. Musical Chimes was fourth in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 14 in her last start.

Singletary won the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap and finished second in the Grade 2 Frank Kilroe Mile earlier this year, proving to trainer Don Chatlos that the Breeders' Cup Mile should be a year-end goal.

In those races, Singletary stalked the pace, but last year he was a frontrunner. Saturday, he could be near the front again under jockey David Flores. Gondolieri, who won the 2003 Inglewood Handicap, is likely to lead.

"David knows the horse," Chatlos said. "He knows the horse. If we end up on the lead, I know he can do that. If he ends up stalking, I know he can do that, too."

Trainer Neil Drysdale does not want Musical Chimes on the front. She was near the lead in the Beverly D. and finished fourth to Crimson Palace, losing by three-quarters of a length. Conversely, she rallied from fifth to win the Mabee Handicap, her only stakes win in seven starts in this country.

"There will be a lot more speed at a mile," Drysdale said. "If she ran really well, we'd consider the Breeders' Cup."

was one of three horses supplemented for $5,000, joined by Buckland Manor and Royal Price. Buckland Manor has yet to win a stakes on turf. Royal Price, who races near the pace, has won his last two starts, in allowance races at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

Tsigane would benefit from a speed duel. He finished third in the minor Live the Dream Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 8, his first start since a third in the Shoemaker Mile. He emerged from the latter race with a sore foot after losing a shoe.

"Look at how long it took me to run him back," Canani said.

That frustration will be forgotten if Tsigane wins Saturday.

The field

Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile
Purse: $250,000; 1 mile, turf; Grade 2

1GondolieriT. Baze11912-1
2Buckland ManorR. Douglas1193-1
3Musical ChimesK. Desormeaux1217-2
4Needwood BladeD. Sorenson11910-1
5Royal PriceJ. Court1194-1
6SingletaryD. Flores1195-2
7TsiganeJ. Valdivia Jr.1196-1

* Odds by Dan Illman