01/20/2004 12:00AM

Valenzuela wants agent all to himself


ARCADIA, Calif. - One day after firing Nick Cosato as his agent, jockey Patrick Valenzuela had yet to name a replacement, though it appeared Bob Meldahl was the front-runner.

Meldahl, who once worked for Valenzuela, on Tuesday confirmed that he had been contacted by Valenzuela, but said he had yet to make a decision. A major sticking point with agents approached by Valenzuela has been his desire to have his agent represent him alone; Meldahl currently represents Mike Smith. Valenzuela on Monday said he had severed ties with Cosato because the agent also recently began representing Corey Nakatani.

Valenzuela's split with Cosato was the talk of the track at Santa Anita on Monday. Cosato had been Valenzuela's agent since the rider was reinstated two years ago after being exiled for substance-abuse issues. Their partnership reached its zenith last year, when Valenzuela became the first jockey in 20 years to lead the standings at all five major meetings in Southern California.

Cosato began representing Nakatani last month, around the time Valenzuela, citing illness, was absent for one week from Hollywood Park. Agents in California are allowed to represent two riders. Both Cosato and Valenzuela said they had agreed to Cosato representing Nakatani, but both acknowledged Monday that it became a source of friction.

"It's unfortunate this has to happen," Valenzuela said. "I love Nick. I think he's a great agent. I never should have agreed to let him have two jocks. I've never felt that that's a good idea. I just don't feel comfortable."

Cosato refused Valenzuela's request to drop Nakatani. Cosato said his final day working for Valenzuela was Monday, when entries were taken for Thursday's Santa Anita races. He said he did not want to comment further on the reasons for his split with Valenzuela.

Frank Fink, a Santa Anita-based investigator for the California Horse Racing Board, said Valenzuela was asked to submit to a random drug test on Monday. Valenzuela, under terms he accepted when granted a license by the CHRB, can be randomly tested "a minimum of eight times a month," according to Fink. Valenzuela also was tested on Saturday, Fink said.

Sunshine Millions moves jocks

The frequent-flyer miles will pile up this weekend when jockeys based in California and Florida make cross-country trips to participate in the second Sunshine Millions.

A number of jockeys based in California are going to ride in the races at Gulfstream Park, and several jockeys based in Florida are going to ride in the races at Santa Anita.

Jerry Bailey, who is based in Florida in the winter, has lined up four mounts in the races at Santa Anita, including Peace Rules in the day's richest race, the $1 million Classic. Eddie Castro and Jon Court also are leaving Florida to ride at Santa Anita on Saturday.

The exodus from west to east is far greater. Tyler Baze, David Flores, Luis Jauregui, Martin Pedroza, Mike Smith, and Alex Solis - all of whom are based at Santa Anita - will ride in Gulfstream's portion of the Sunshine Millions races.

One of Flores's top mounts is the 3-year-old filly Silent Sighs, who should be a heavy favorite in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks. She worked three furlongs in 36 seconds on Tuesday morning at Santa Anita for trainer Julio Canani.

Scintillating Santa Monica

The Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap was overshadowed last year because it was placed on the same card as the inaugural Sunshine Millions. In terms of promotions, quantity trumped quality. This year, the Santa Monica is being run on Sunday, so it has a day to itself, and deservedly so, because the seven-furlong race is again shaping up as something special.

Sightseek, who is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion older filly or mare of 2003, was assigned top weight of 122 pounds for the Santa Monica. Her rivals are expected to include Island Fashion, who won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes and was scratched from last weekend's El Encino Stakes; Got Koko, who swept last year's La Canada Series; as well as Buffythecenterfold and Sparkling Ava.

Sightseek worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds at Hollywood Park on Tuesday for trainer Bobby Frankel. The time was the best of 23 at the distance. At Santa Anita, Got Koko also worked five furlongs for trainer Bruce Headley. She was timed in 59.80 seconds. Island Fashion breezed a half-mile in 47.20 seconds on Monday at Santa Anita for trainer Marcelo Polanco.

Course record for Glick

The high-priced claimer Glick, making his first start for trainer Jeff Mullins, set a course record of 1:11.26 for the odd distance of about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Monday. The previous mark of 1:11.45 was set one year ago by Cayoke.

Glick was entered for a $62,500 claiming price in an optional claiming race. He had been claimed out of his previous start for $40,000 on Dec. 20 when making his second start in California since being brought west by owner Michael Gill. Gill has claimed a number of horses off Mullins in recent months.

"What am I doing? I'm claiming off of Michael Gill," Mullins told a cell-phone caller who congratulated him right after the race Monday.

Mullins said that Robert Bone, the current owner of Glick, suggested making the claim on Dec. 20.

"Bob said, 'They're riding him wrong. Let's take him,' " Mullins said.

"Every time they sent him hard, he faded," Bone said. "When you let him fall away from there, he runs well."

Gary Stevens rode Glick and utilized the strategy Bone suggested. Glick was sixth in the seven-horse field after a half-mile, but closed with a rush to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths.

"I just tried to get him to relax," Stevens said. "I let him gallop early, then come home the last sixteenth."

Glick, an 8-year-old son of Theatrical, has now won 12 times in 33 starts.

* Other notable works on Tuesday at Santa Anita included During (four furlongs, 48.40 seconds) and Buckland Manor (six furlongs, 1:11.60), both of whom are pointing for the Feb. 7 Strub Stakes.

* Trainer Craig Dollase sent out his two Sunshine Millions entrants for four-furlong workouts Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park. Touch the Wire, who is in the Classic, was timed in 47.20 seconds. Saint Afleet, who is scheduled to run in the $250,000 Dash, was timed in 48.20 seconds. Both races are at Santa Anita.

* Halfbridled, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, worked seven furlongs in 1:26 on Monday at Santa Anita for trainer Richard Mandella. She is scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut on Feb. 15 in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. Action This Day, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for Mandella, worked a sharp seven furlongs on Sunday in 1:25.60. He is scheduled to race next in the Sham Stakes on Feb. 8.

* Ray Stark, the prolific Hollywood producer of "Funny Girl" and "Night of the Iguana" who died last weekend, was prominent in the racing business in the 1980's. His best horse was the filly Fabulous Notion, who won the Santa Susana Stakes - now known as the Santa Anita Oaks - in 1983.

* Nakatani has been suspended for three days, beginning Thursday, because of the disqualification of his mount Aloha Pirate from fifth to last in Friday's fourth race.

* Trainer Ted H. West was fined $750 as the result of his horse Fly to the Lake testing positive for the illegal medication Indomethacin following a victory at Hollywood Park on Dec. 3. Indomethacin is an anti-inflammatory, according to steward Tom Ward.

* Tyler Baze was fined $200 for showing up late for the races on Sunday. According to Ward, Baze incorrectly set his alarm clock for midnight, rather than noon, and overslept from a nap after working horses that morning.