02/10/2005 12:00AM

Two give Cerin barn optimism

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Benoit & Associates
The victory by Laura's Lucky Boy Wednesday gave his trainer a lift.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A newcomer and veteran who could make a comeback from injury later on have given trainer Vladimir Cerin optimism that his stable will play a major role in the turf mile division this year.

Wednesday, Laura's Lucky Boy won his first start for Cerin in the $78,650 Thunder Road Handicap at Santa Anita - a prep for the $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on March 5.

Last year, Cerin's top turf miler was Designed for Luck, who suffered a suspensory injury to his left foreleg in July. At the time, Cerin stopped just short of saying that Designed for Luck, 8, was retired.

In recent weeks, Designed for Luck has begun light exercise at Ernie Moody's farm in San Diego County. A comeback, if it happens, is months away.

Meanwhile, Laura's Lucky Boy, owned by Moody's Mercedes Stable, won his first stakes in eight months in the Thunder Road. It was his first start since a fifth-place finish in the Hollywood Derby last November.

Last year Laura's Lucky Boy won the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood Park and was in the money in three other graded stakes, including a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, while trained by Jason Orman.

In the Thunder Road, Laura's Lucky Boy stalked the pace under jockey Patrick Valenzuela and rallied wide through the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Silver Traffic. On the final turn, Cerin worried that Laura's Lucky Boy had lost interest in running.

"It looked like he spit out [the bit] in the middle of the turn and then he changed his mind," Cerin said. "I thought he needed the race."

The Kilroe will be a tough spot for Laura's Lucky Boy. The top contenders include Singletary, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile last October, and Leroidesanimaux, who has won five consecutive starts.

Designed for Luck has far to go

Cerin admits that Designed for Luck faces a difficult comeback. Owned by David and Holly Wilson, Designed for Luck has won 10 of 26 starts and $915,500. His major victories both came on turf - the 2003 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile and 2004 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile.

The injury to the suspensory created a small hole in it, Cerin said. Designed for Luck, a gelding, underwent a procedure in which tissue was transferred to the affected area in an effort to regenerate growth.

"We won't bring him back in claiming races," Cerin said. "If he doesn't make it, he'll make someone an ornery pony."

Only in Reno out of San Vicente

Sunday's $150,000 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs will not include nominee Only in Reno, who owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure earned by a 3-year-old this year.

Only in Reno was found to have a bone chip in a knee following a victory in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 15, trainer Bob Baffert said. Only in Reno was timed in 1:02.75 that day, and awarded a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

The year's second-best figure among 3-year-olds this year - 102 - is shared by Lost in the Fog in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream Park and the filly Maddalena in races at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 16 and Feb. 5.

Only in Reno was second to Going Wild in a maiden race Dec. 26. Going Wild has since won two stakes - the San Miguel and the Sham.

Baffert described Only in Reno's bone chip as the size of a "flake."

"I think I'll take it out," he said. "I think he's had it in there for a while."

Owned by Mike Pegram, Only in Reno is by In Excess. "I think he will make a nice horse," Baffert said. "We'll give him the time off."

The Grade 2 San Vicente will have a small field. The probable starters are Consolidator, Don't Get Mad, Kirkendahl, Pavo, and Roman Ruler.

Consolidator and Roman Ruler are the most accomplished among them. Both are making their first starts of the year. Last year Consolidator won the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland; Roman Ruler won graded stakes at Del Mar and the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Six in Grade 1 Santa Maria

Sunday's top race is the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles. A field of six is likely - Festival, Hollywood Story, Miss Loren, Musical Chimes, Royally Chosen, and Star Parade.

Two of the hopefuls are coming off wins: Miss Loren won the minor Paseana Stakes here last month, while Hollywood Story won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in December.

Woke Up Dreamin wins for Baffert

Baffert won the top sprint on Wednesday's card with Woke Up Dreamin, by four lengths in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs. Ridden by Tyler Baze, Woke Up Dreamin rallied from third and was timed in in 1:16.13.

"You've got to let him get out of the gate," Baffert said. "We took him back last time and that was a mistake. He was in a perfect spot this time."

Owned by Pegram, Woke Up Dreamin finished third in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap on Jan. 2 but was seventh in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 23.

Future Wager horses work

Wilko, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, breezed a half-mile in 51.60 seconds on Thursday at Hollywood Park. Trained by Craig Dollase, Wilko is being pointed for the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 5.

Wilko is part of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that is being conducted through Sunday.

Two other horses offered in that bet worked at Santa Anita on Thursday - Spanish Chestnut and Sweet Catomine. Spanish Chestnut breezed five furlongs in 1:00. Sweet Catomine, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2004, worked five furlongs in 1:00.20. She is listed in both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pools.