08/08/2007 12:00AM

Two drop out of Pacific Classic


DEL MAR, Calif. - The $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 will have a large field, but two recent stakes winners on turf who were being considered for the race - Becrux and Runaway Dancer - will not run.

Becrux, the winner of the Wickerr Handicap on July 27, will be pointed for the $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf on Aug. 19, trainer Neil Drysdale said.

"We're leaning toward running him in the Mile," Drysdale said. "I think we're taking a conservative approach and will keep him on the grass."

After the Wickerr, co-owners Gary Barber and Barry Irwin of the Team Valor International syndicate said the Pacific Classic was a possibility because Becrux had worked well on a Polytrack synthetic surface at Woodbine last summer. Del Mar also has a Polytrack surface.

Becrux, who breezed six furlongs on turf in 1:16 on Wednesday, is a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.

Runaway Dancer, the winner of the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 15, did not work as well on the synthetic surface on Tuesday as trainer Dan Hendricks had hoped he would.

Runaway Dancer worked six furlongs in 1:15.80. "When we turned his head loose, he kind of spun his wheels," Hendricks said.

A winner of 8 of 39 starts and $788,284, Runaway Dancer, an 8-year-old gelding, will be pointed for the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 26, Hendricks said.

Lava Man heads Pacific Classic field

The Pacific Classic field is led by defending champion Lava Man, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup for the third consecutive year on June 30.

There will be no shortage of challengers for Lava Man in the Pacific Classic, which is run over 1 1/4 miles. For the first time, the winner of the race will be given an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27.

Other probable starters are A.P. Xcellent, Albertus Maximus, Arson Squad, Awesome Gem, Hello Sunday, Molengao, Porfido, Salty Humor, Student Council, Sun Boat, Tiago, and Time Squared.

A.P. Xcellent and Tiago are not definite starters, pending works on Sunday, trainer John Shirreffs said.

A.P. Xcellent, second to Lava Man in the Hollywood Gold Cup, returned to finish fifth in the Cougar II Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 1. Shirreffs said that A.P. Xcellent regressed from his Gold Cup performance.

"He didn't have the same amount of energy as in the past," Shirreffs said.

A.P. Xcellent could start in the Del Mar Handicap if he does not run in the Pacific Classic. Tiago, who won the Swaps Stakes last month at Hollywood Park, could run in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 3.

Headley's chin still up

Arson Squad worked a mile in 1:40 on Wednesday, a move that trainer Bruce Headley described as "brilliant." It was the only work at the distance. Headley said that Arson Squad went the last furlong in 12 seconds.

Arson Squad has won 5 of 12 starts and $564,450, but was sixth in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap here on July 21, his first start since winning the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

Even though Arson Squad was beaten 7 3/4 lengths by Sun Boat, Headley said he was not discouraged by the loss. "He got stopped at the head of the stretch," he said.

Headley is still looking for his first winner on a synthetic track, having gone winless with 41 starters since racing over such surfaces began in California last fall. He is winless with 13 starters at this meeting.

"Everyone has to spend some time losing," he said.

Headley noted that luck went against him in two major stakes on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park when Silver Swallow was beaten a nose in the Railbird Stakes on May 13 and Surf Cat finished second by a head in the Triple Bend Handicap on July 7 after racing in traffic on the turn.

"He'd have won if he didn't have to check," Headley said of Surf Cat.

Surf Cat will start in the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap over seven furlongs on Aug. 19, Headley said.

Worldly highweight in La Jolla

Worldly, the winner of the Will Rogers Stakes and Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park earlier this year, is the 121-pound topweight for Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

The La Jolla drew a field of nine, including Ten a Penny and Vauquelin, who won divisions of the Oceanside Stakes over a mile on turf on July 18. Ten a Penny was supplemented to the La Jolla for $1,500 earlier this week.

The field does not include the stakes winners Awesome Gambler and Men's Magazine. Awesome Gambler missed a vital workout last week.

"He was a little tender in his foot," trainer Caesar Dominguez said.

Awesome Gambler won the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park in May.

Men's Magazine, a stakes winner in Italy last year, was not entered after recently suffering a hind end injury, trainer Ron McAnally said. X-rays revealed no extensive damage. "It's not serious," McAnally said.

Margenot injured, euthanized

Margenot, a 3-year-old allowance class runner, was euthanized on Aug. 1 because of a knee injury suffered in a workout on turf on July 29, trainer Mike Machowsky said Wednesday.

Margenot is the fourth horse to be euthanized at the current Del Mar meeting because of injuries suffered on the turf course. The other three fatal injuries occurred during races.

A Tiznow colt, Margenot suffered a slab fracture to a knee in a workout, Machowsky said. He was taken to Hollywood Park to undergo surgery when it was discovered that the injury was more severe than originally thought.

"We had to put him down on the [operating] table," Machowsky said.

Owned by William and Suzanne Warren, Margenot had 1 victory in 4 starts and earnings of $43,320.