06/02/2010 12:00AM

Wasted Tears a hidden gem of a turf filly


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The handicapping notebook is full again, with stuff like this . . .

If Forever Together wins the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes Saturday at Hollywood Park, it means the race did not include the top turf female in the country. She is Wasted Tears, the best-kept secret in racing. Last time out, Forever Together finished second to Wasted Tears, a 9-for-14 filly scheduled to run Monday at Lone Star. On paper, Wasted Tears is a cinch to win the Grade 3 Ouija Board Distaff there.

The tepid pace scenario of the Gamely Stakes puts favorite Tuscan Evening in an enviable position -- loose on the lead in search of her fifth straight. Wagering value? Forget it. Tuscan Evening should be even money or less.

* Speaking of good horses skipping big races, California's best turf horse -- The Usual Q.T. -- is missing from the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on Monday. Fully recovered from a trip to Dubai, The Usual Q.T. is training regularly at Santa Anita and pointing for the Grade 2 American Handicap on July 4 at Hollywood. The Usual Q.T. looked good Thursday in a slow-early, fast-late half-mile workout.

* The streaking Compari will have a new pilot for the Shoemaker Mile. Joel Rosario will replace Garrett Gomez, who has ridden Compari to five straight wins but currently is based on the East Coast. It is possible, perhaps, that Gomez might have flown back to ride Compari if travel-expense issues had been resolved.

At a mile on turf, the Shoemaker Mile is not likely to produce a big payoff. In fact, mile turf races this spring at Hollywood have been the worst place to shop for prices. Only two of the 19 winners returned more than $10, and the median win payoff is $7.40. Blame it on field size -- 11 of the 19 turf races at one mile had seven starters or fewer.

* A thin filly-mare sprint division in California has taken another hit. Witty, 4 for 5 and pointing for the A Gleam Handicap on July 17, will undergo surgery next week to remove a second chip from her left ankle. Trainer Richard Mandella said Witty will be off three months and aim for a comeback at the start of the year. Witty will be 5 next year, but Mandella said her owners want to bring her back to race.

* The excuses are adding up for La Nez. She displaced her palate April 24 and finished a distant third as the odds-on Melair Stakes favorite. Next she dropped into a May 23 allowance and finished last at 2.40-1, with another alibi. Blood tests revealed an elevated white count. Trainer Eric Kruljac said she will return at Del Mar. Give her one more chance?

* It is that time of year. A public address announcement Thursday morning echoed through the Santa Anita stables, reminding horsemen stall applications are due for Del Mar, along with nominations to the Del Mar Futurity. Opening day is right around the corner, on July 21. Best bet of summer -- timeless rock trio Z.Z. Top plays Del Mar on Sept. 4. Go get yourself some cheap sunglasses.

Speaking of Del Mar, it was a good move (because of tax ramifications and affordability) to lower the minimum pick four wager to 50 cents. Now if new track superintendent Richard Tedesco can only stabilize the synthetic surface, horseplayers and horsemen will have fewer complaints.

* Is the Breeders' Cup purposely trying to wreck the filly-mare championship race? Seems like it. It was bad enough the Distaff was renamed the Ladies' Classic. Worse is news the race will be run at night, under the lights at Churchill Downs. It makes the whole race seem tawdry.

* Speaking of championship races for fillies and mares, the Oak Tree Racing Association currently has its hands full dealing with its Santa Anita landlord MI Developments, which recently voided the Oak Tree lease. If a deal is worked out that allows the autumn meet to continue at Santa Anita, Oak Tree can turn attention to renaming its Grade 1 for fillies and mares. The way it stands now, Zenyatta could run this fall in the Zenyatta.

Oak Tree and MID are scheduled to meet next week in an attempt to work out a satisfactory lease arrangement. Off-the-record comments from parties familiar with the negotiations suggest the two sides remain far, far apart.

* One year ago, before Lookin At Lucky started, another 2-year-old was whispered to be the No. 1 seed in the Bob Baffert collection. Flagship, a $1 million son of El Prado, never made it to the races. Flagship is now an unraced 3-year-old, and he is back. Flagship posted his first five-furlong work Thursday at Hollywood -- 1:00.80. Stay tuned.

* No matter how much media hype is bequeathed to the Belmont Stakes, it does not change the apathy surrounding the 2010 renewal. What difference will it make whether Ice Box wins by a nose, or by open lengths?

* Speaking of New York racing, horseplayers are lining up to wager on Quality Road in the Grade 1 Met Mile on Monday. Yeah, right.