02/01/2005 12:00AM

Two views of Sham distance

Salt Champ, winner of last Sunday's Santa Monica Handicap at seven furlongs, will try to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles for the Santa Margarita on March 12.

ARCADIA, Calif. - At 1 1/8 miles, Saturday's $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita will severely test the endurance of stakes-winning sprinter Going Wild, while simultaneously providing Hollywood Futurity runner-up Giacomo an ideal distance for his comeback.

Going Wild worked a half-mile in 48 seconds for trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Tuesday at Santa Anita, and will race beyond seven furlongs for the first time Saturday. Going Wild enters the Sham as the fastest horse in the race, though both wins were at six furlongs. He earned a 104 Beyer winning a maiden race Dec. 26, and followed with a 98 Beyer winning the San Miguel Stakes on Jan. 17. Notwithstanding his figures, Going Wild may be hard-pressed to hold off Giacomo, a son of Holy Bull nearly certain to appreciate the distance.

"That's why we're running here, we think he's going to love the mile and an eighth," trainer John Shirreffs said.

Giacomo worked a half-mile Tuesday at Hollywood Park in an easy 49.60. In addition to Giacomo and Going Wild, the Sham field is expected to include promising maiden Chekhov, Devil's Bay, Cadillac Cruiser, and Southern Africa.

Delta Jackpot winner Texcess, third with a wide trip in the Grade 2 San Rafael, is doubtful to start, according to trainer Paul Aguirre. Texcess is expected to return in March.

Chekhov wants more distance

The farther the better for the Patrick Biancone-trained colt Chekhov, a $3.3 million maiden. He will stretch to nine furlongs Saturday in the Sham, his third career start and second start since a super third-place comeback Jan. 15. In that mile race for maidens, Chekhov rallied from 10th to third while bucking a severe speed bias.

"For me, he ran a winning race," Biancone said.

Chekhov worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 Tuesday, and Biancone expects significant improvement in the Sham.

"Because of the rain, he wasn't really fit the other day," Biancone said. "The plan was to win the maiden race, then come back in the Sham. There is no reason to change plans. And the other reason is, the longer the better . . . he's a real mile and a quarter horse."

Two may ship to Louisiana

At least two local 3-year-olds may ship to Fair Grounds for the Grade 3 Risen Star on Feb. 12. Scipion worked seven furlongs Tuesday at Santa Anita under Gary Stevens, who will ride the colt in the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star. Biancone trains Scipion, who finished third in his Jan. 14 comeback. Scipion was timed Thursday in 1:26.80.

On Monday, the Jeff Mullins-trained Golden Gate Derby winner Buzzards Bay worked five furlongs in a bullet 58.40, and could ship to Fair Grounds.

Salt Champ aims for Santa Margarita

Salt Champ and Island Fashion, first and second in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at seven furlongs last Sunday, will both skip the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13, but could have a rematch in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 12. Trainer Marcelo Polanco did not commit Island Fashion to the Santa Margarita, but Richard Mandella said Tuesday that Salt Champ would aim for the 1 1/8-mile race. Can a late-running sprinter stay the distance?

"I asked Gary [Stevens] what he thought, and he said she would do anything," Mandella said.

Salt Champ was making her U.S. debut Sunday, and stormed from last to win going away for her fifth win from eight starts.

The Santa Maria field will be headed by Grade 1 winner Star Parade and Miss Loren.

Yearly Report disliked slick surface

Yearly Report did not handle the racetrack here last Saturday when she finished sixth as the 4-5 favorite in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff.

"She didn't want any part of that racetrack that day," trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday. "It was too greasy for her.

"She ran like that when I ran her in the Alabama," he added, referring to the race where Yearly Report finished a distant fourth on a sloppy track at Saratoga.

Yearly Report came out of the race fine; her next start has not been determined.

Buena Vista next for Elusive Diva

The 4-year-old filly Elusive Diva ran herself right into the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap on Feb. 21 by scoring an impressive win last Sunday in the Wishing Well Handicap. It was Elusive Diva's first start on grass, and her fourth win from 10 starts. Trainer Mark Glatt said the timing of the Buena Vista, at a mile on turf, was one reason he ran Elusive Diva in the Wishing Well instead of the Grade 1 Santa Monica the same day.

"I didn't want to run in a Grade 2 having not started on turf," he said, adding "she can get a mile, for sure."

Coconut Girl fine

It was not as bad as it looked for Grade 3 winner Coconut Girl, who was vanned off the turf course Sunday after jockey Jose Valdivia pulled her up midway through the Wishing Well. On Tuesday, trainer Paul Aguirre said the 6-year-old Coconut Girl emerged from the race unscathed and that Valdivia pulled her up to protect her after she took an awkward step,

"He thought she must have stepped in a hole; he thought she broke down," Aguirre said. "He just wanted to protect her."

Aguirre said this was to be Coconut Girl's last year racing, but she could run again this meet.

"I would like to race her one more time," he said. "I would hate to see her out go out like that."

New Rule sidelined till summer

The unbeaten 3-year-old colt New Rule, runaway winner in both starts, will be out until summer after a chip was removed from an ankle. Trainer Richard Mandella said New Rule emerged from a Jan. 14 workout with a small chip that was removed with minor surgery.

"It wasn't a big deal, and he'll be back," Mandella said "We'll see him at Del Mar."

New Rule won his debut in a $32,000 maiden claiming sprint by nine lengths on Nov. 20, earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. He won his second start on Dec. 11, a maiden-40 starter allowance sprint, by four lengths with an 87 Beyer.