06/08/2003 11:00PM

Victory follows setback for Lobo

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - By the time Quero Quero left the paddock for Saturday's Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park, her trainer, Paulo Lobo, was in desperate need of a boost.

Earlier in the day, Lobo lost a member of his small stable when Belardinha died of internal injuries in an accident in the stable area.

The maiden filly was being galloped on the training track when she unseated her exercise rider and took off toward Lobo's barn. While running through the stables, Belardinha collided with a three-foot-high pole that protects a staircase railing from vehicles. She suffered massive injuries and died.

Lobo had to make a difficult phone call to owner Julio de Camargo.

"It was very sad," Lobo said.

Early Saturday evening, Lobo was back on the phone with Camargo, but this time the news was better. Quero Quero had pulled an upset in the $216,950 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap, scoring her first stakes win and the first major win of the year for Lobo.

Last year, Lobo was best known as the trainer of Farda Amiga, the champion 3-year-old filly. She won the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes and was second to Azeri in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Arlington Park. She has since been retired and bred to Gone West.

Farda Amiga raced sparingly last year. And with the Brazilian-born Lobo's low-key demeanor, he was not often in the spotlight.

As a result, Farda Amiga's success did not translate into additional horses for Lobo - from clients in the United States or Brazil.

"I need more American horses, but it's very hard," Lobo, 34, said. "Farda Amiga is finished, and I think people are waiting for more results. It's a small barn."

Lobo trains 14 horses, seven from Brazil and seven with U.S. bloodlines. He admits it is difficult to compete for South American prospects with Hall of Fame trainers such as Bobby Frankel, Richard Mandella, and Ron McAnally.

"My expectations were I had a lot of connections to Brazil, and I thought I'd do better with Brazilian horses, but it didn't happen," Lobo said.

Lobo has been based in the United States since early 2001. Overall, he says he is pleased with the stable's success in 2 1/2 years, even though he wishes it were larger.

Quero Quero is a half-sister to Housebuster, the champion sprinter of 1990 and 1991. Quero Quero ran third in the California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields in March as a maiden, won a maiden race on turf in early May in her fourth career start, and followed with an upset in the Honeymoon.

Sent off at 10-1 in the Honeymoon, Quero Quero stalked the pace to midstretch and rallied wide to beat 9-5 favorite Atlantic Ocean by a neck. The race earned Quero Quero an invitation to the $750,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf July 5.

"She will improve a lot," Lobo said. "At a mile and a quarter, I'm still a little worried, but she's learning to relax."

Quero Quero will be part of an international field in the American Oaks, the toughest test of her career. For Lobo, it is the next opportunity to win another big race - and to prove he belongs in the United States.

Latest hot import: Candy Ride

Candy Ride, the most recent import from South America to win in California, may be one of the best in recent years.

Candy Ride remained unbeaten after four starts with a three-length victory over Primerica in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race Saturday which earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 111. Candy Ride dueled for the lead with Bonus Pay Day and fought off challengers on the final turn before pulling away, finishing in a sharp 1:41.28. General Challenge, the winner of the 2000 Santa Anita Handicap, finished fifth in his second start after a 2 1/2-year layoff caused by injury.

Candy Ride won three races by a combined 28 lengths in Argentina last year. Two of the wins came in Group 1 races over about a mile on turf.

Trained by McAnally for Sid and Jenny Craig, Candy Ride, 4, could be racing in major stakes in Southern California in coming months, though McAnally was reluctant to plan too far ahead Sunday.

He said the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 13 is a possibility.

"You get excited about a horse, but you have to run to see what they're made of," he said. "He's very, very impressive, and he's very smart."

Small field for Whittingham

Storming Home will carry top weight of 124 pounds in Saturday's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf, the top race on a program that features three stakes.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Storming Home won the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf in his U.S. debut on May 10. He carried 122 pounds in the Murray, finishing two lengths in front of Denon, who returned to win the Manhattan Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The Whittingham will have a small field. Other probables include Blue Steller (116 pounds), Mister Acpen (115), Gigli (113), and Cagney (112). Gigli and Cagney will race as an entry owned by TNT Stud. Ballingarry (118) and Night Patrol (114) may also start.

There is no shortage of hopefuls for Saturday's $400,000 Californian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles, a prep for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 13. Western Pride, the winner of the San Bernardino Handicap and runner-up in the Pimlico Special, is the likely favorite against Calkins Road, Fleetstreet Dancer, Gondolieri, Kudos, Lethal Instrument, Piensa Sonando, Reba's Gold, and Wooden Phone.

Calkins Road will be making his first start since winning the California Cup Classic last November at Santa Anita. A pastern injury forced him out of training over the winter. Last year, Calkins Road won the Snow Chief Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds over the same distance and track as the Californian. He has yet to win a graded stakes.

Saturday's other stakes race, the $200,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, is the championship of the meeting for 3-year-old fillies on dirt.

Buffythecenterfold, the winner of the Railbird Stakes on May 4, will face Cinema Paradisa, Dash for Money, Harbor Blues, Miss Bridget Jones, Princess V, and Santa Catarina.

Santa Catarina had a busy May. She finished second in the Kentucky Oaks on May 2 and was third in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on May 16.

Miss Bridget Jones was purchased Monday by Marsha Naify, Robert Geringer, and Vistas Stable and will be trained by Laura de Seroux. This is the second time she has been sold in the last seven months.

Harty's juveniles to start season

Trainer Eoin Harty, who developed Street Cry and Tempera in recent years, will have his first juvenile starter of the year in Southern California in Wednesday's fourth race.

Harty starts Ruler's Court, a colt by Doneraile Court who was purchased for $400,000 at a Florida 2-year-olds in training sale in February. Ruler's Court races for Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Darley Stud Management.

Ruler's Court drew the rail in a five-furlong race that attracted 11. Only 10 will start.

Other top contenders include Cleartalker, who is winless in three starts but was second on May 21, and the Richard Mandella trainee Spellbinder, a first-time starter who was bought for $375,000 as a yearling last September.

This is the fourth year that Harty has campaigned 2-year-olds in the United States for the Maktoum family of Dubai. In 2000, the stable was led by Street Cry, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He won the 2002 Dubai World Cup. In 2001, the stable included Tempera, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and the champion 2-year-old filly.

Last year, Harty's stable was hit hard by a virus at Del Mar and had limited starters.

Azeri works after Milady win

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and the winner of nine consecutive races, worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Saturday at San Luis Rey Downs. The workout was her first major exercise since a victory in the Grade 1 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap May 24.

Azeri is being pointed for the June 21 Vanity Handicap, a race she won in 2002.

Trainer Laura de Seroux said Azeri worked a half-mile in 46 seconds and galloped out another furlong. She was timed in 1:12.20 for six furlongs, according to de Seroux.

"Visually, it looks the same, but it's stronger and faster," de Seroux said, comparing the move to past workouts. "She's working in stunning fashion."