09/25/2003 11:00PM

Two tracks, 23 races, and simulcasting, too


ARCADIA, Calif. - Sunday will be a unique day in Southern California racing.

At Santa Anita, the Oak Tree meeting begins with a 10-race card that includes four stakes races and the presence of reigning Horse of the Year Azeri. The stakes are all preps to Breeders' Cup Day at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Approximately 20 miles away, at Fairplex Park at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, Sunday marks the final day of the meeting and includes two stakes races on a 13-race program.

For racing fans, those two venues provide 23 races to follow in a little more than six hours. In addition, there is simulcasting from Bay Meadows in Northern California and other parts of the country.

The Sunday opening to the Oak Tree meeting is designed as a preview for the Breeders' Cup and has been in the planning stages since last winter. The concept was designed to give horses a four-week gap between prep races and the Breeders' Cup.

Oak Tree executive vice-president Sherwood Chillingworth is projecting ontrack attendance of 22,500 and an overall mutuel handle of $15 million for Sunday. Those figures would make the day equal to one of the top attendance days during the winter-spring meeting.

Chillingworth is hoping to use Sunday as a springboard to successful business throughout the meeting, which ends on Nov. 8.

"We've done a lot of advertising," he said. "Del Mar had a good meeting and Pomona has been up. If we can continue in that glide path we should be in good shape. We expect a terrific meeting."

On Breeders' Cup Day, Chillingworth projects an ontrack audience of 60,000. Reserved seats in the clubhouse and grandstand are sold out, but Chillingworth said that general admission and clubhouse tickets are still available.

Sunday's program features the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes, $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship, $300,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap led by Azeri, and $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes.

As an added promotion, Oak Tree is guaranteeing a pick-four pool of $400,000.

In late summer, Oak Tree raised the purse of the Lady's Secret from $200,000 to $300,000 in an effort to attract horses to compete against Azeri, who will attempt to win her 12th consecutive race.

The Grade 2 Lady's Secret has six entrants.

"If you run second, you make $60,000, which is what you would have won if you ran in a $100,000 [race] and won," Chillingworth said.

Grey Memo works toward Goodwood

Grey Memo, the millionaire California-bred who finished third in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 1, will make his next start in the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday, Oct. 4.

But unlike some Goodwood hopefuls, Grey Memo is not using the race as a prep to the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer Warren Stute said Grey Memo is being pointed for the $250,000 California Cup Classic against statebreds on Nov. 8.

Friday, Grey Memo worked one mile in 1:42, the only recorded clocking at the distance.

"That's a pretty good work for him," Stute said. "He's not a good work horse. He finished up well."

In the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, Grey Memo rallied from last in the field of seven to finish third, three lengths behind Joey Franco. The Grade 2 handicap was Grey Memo's first start since he finished seventh in the Tiznow Stakes behind Joey Franco at Hollywood Park last April.

"I thought he ran well," Stute said. "It was his first race back since he got a quarter crack at Hollywood Park."

Grey Memo is not alone as a Goodwood hopeful who may pass the Breeders' Cup. Joey Franco, who won his fourth stakes race of 2003 in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup program and would have to be supplemented. Consequently, he is more likely to run in the California Cup Classic.

Other Goodwood probables are Fleetstreet Dancer, Pleasantly Perfect, Reba's Gold, Taste of Paradise, and Toccet. Pleasantly Perfect is the Goodwood's defending champion but has not started since finishing fourth in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March.

Lukas returns to Santa Anita

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has returned to Santa Anita for the first time since early May after operating a division at Arlington Park over the summer.

Lukas had a quiet season at Santa Anita earlier this year, winning four races. The stable's lone stakes win was Repository's victory in the Winter Solstice Stakes.

Lukas's current 18-horse Santa Anita stable includes Renaissance Lady, who starts in Sunday's Oak Leaf Stakes. She finished second, beaten 16 lengths, to Class Above in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park on Sept. 13.

"We're going to the Breeders Cup if she runs well," said Greg Falk, Lukas's assistant.

Lukas has won the Oak Leaf a record nine times, most recently in 1996 with City Band.

Wednesday, the stable will start the Race for Glory in the $75,000 Cavonnier Stakes for California-breds at seven furlongs.

Valenzuela receives suspension stay

Patrick Valenzuela, who has led the jockey standings at the Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita meetings this year, has received a stay in Los Angeles Superior Court allowing him to continue riding while an appeal is heard on a suspension received at Del Mar in early September, according to his agent Nick Cosato.

Valenzuela's suspension was scheduled from Oct. 1-5, but he will now be permitted to ride during that time.

Valenzuela will ride at Santa Anita on Wednesday and Thursday, Keeneland on Friday and Saturday, and Santa Anita on Sunday. Valenzuela will ride Designed for Luck in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile and Perfect Moon in the Norfolk Stakes.

Lovato nears return

Anthony Lovato, injured in a five-horse spill at Del Mar on Aug. 11, is nearing a return, according to his agent, Tommy Ball.

Lovato suffered a compression fracture of vertebrae in the spill, which occurred on the turn of a sprint for claimers. Three horses were euthanized in the spill.

Ball said Lovato is expecting to be cleared to resume riding horses after undergoing approximately 2 1/2 weeks of therapy. "He thought he'd be already back, but there was some nerve damage," Ball said.