03/17/2009 11:00PM

What a Pear aims high in Ashland


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed. The Jets versus the Colts in Super Bowl III. The U.S. hockey team against the Russians in the 1980 Olympics.

The connections of What a Pear are hoping for the same type of ending when they send out their unheralded, albeit undefeated 3-year-old New York-bred filly against champion Stardom Bound in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 4.

On Wednesday, What a Pear tuned up for the Ashland when she worked five furlongs in 1:00.31 over Aqueduct's inner track. It was her first breeze since she won the Busher Stakes here on Feb. 22. What a Pear, a daughter of E Dubai, is trained by Joe Parker and owned by the Tri-Bone Stables of Ira and Bernice Cohen. She was bred by the Cohen's son, Russell. A veterinarian on this circuit, Russell Cohen has come up with a promotional slogan for the meeting with Stardom Bound.

"The billionaire stable versus the shoestring stable,'' Cohen said.

What a Pear has done something different in all four of her races. She was her most impressive in the Busher when she rolled to a 10 1/4-length victory, the first time she dominated a field.

"To be honest with you, I'm excited to see what she's going to do next time,'' Parker said Wednesday morning at Aqueduct. "It's not about what type of caliber horse she's coming up against, it's that every time she runs she shows me a different dimension. I'm curious. I could have a time bomb on my hands and don't even know it.''

What a Pear doesn't work often. She will have only two breezes in the six weeks between the Busher and the Ashland. Both Parker and Russell said What a Pear doesn't need much training.

"You just continue doing the things you started doing with her and she's fine,'' Parker said. "This horse is amazing; no medication, no bandages, it's just a natural, good horse.''

What a Pear has not raced on Lasix in any of her four starts.

What a Pear will likely breeze next Wednesday and ship to Keeneland on March 31.

Hill to relocate to California

Channing Hill, a New York staple since 2005, is the regular rider of What a Pear. But when he rides her in the Ashland, he will be flying in coming from the West Coast and not New York.

Hill, 21, has decided to move his tack to Southern California and will start riding there next week. Hill's last day in New York was Wednesday, when he went 0 for 4 with three last-place finishes. Hill is tied for eighth in the standings with 24 winners from 232 mounts.

"My business kind of slid down this winter,'' Hill said, explaining his decision to move his tack. "Coming off 2008, I thought I was going to have a really, really good winter meet. It just never evolved into that. I have no real ties here family-wise; I figured now was a good time to try it.''

Hill was the leading apprentice in New York in 2005 and was runner-up to Emma-Jayne Wilson in the Eclipse Award voting that year. He won his first Grade 1 race last August when he guided First Defence to victory in the Forego.

Hill was scheduled to fly to his home in Nebraska on Thursday before arriving in Southern California early next week. He will be represented by Tom Knust.

Papi Chullo retired

Papi Chullo, a stakes winner who plummeted to low-level claimer, has been retired from racing after his new connections found a chip in a front ankle. He has been sold and will stand at stud in Jamaica.

Trainer Joe Imperio claimed the horse on behalf of Elizabeth Loftus for $10,000 on Dec. 28. Imperio said he was getting close to running him, but X-rays taken last week revealed "a brand new chip in his ankle,'' Imperio said.

"We didn't want to hurt him,'' Imperio said. "We did the right thing.''

Imperio said Loftus and Michael Imperio, the trainer's cousin, helped make a deal to stand the horse in Jamaica.

Papi Chullo began his career with owner Greg Norman, who employed five trainers during the horse's first 17 races. The horse was sold privately to Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable and turned over to Gary Contessa in the spring of 2007 and the horse won an allowance race and the Birdstone Stakes. The IEAH Stables bought into the horse before the Birdstone.

Papi Chullo's career went south after the Birdstone as he was well-beaten in the Whitney and Philip Iselin handicaps. The horse was off for 14 months before winning a $16,000 claimer last October.

Papi Chullo won 7 of 25 races and $391,062.

Shippers add intrigue to Distaff

Only six were entered for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap, but the presence of out-of-towners Secret Gypsy, Royale Michele, and Moonshine Alice add some intrigue to the six-furlong stakes for older filly and mare sprinters.

Secret Gypsy, a debut winner at Saratoga in the summer of 2007, makes her 4-year-old debut for trainer Ronny Werner. She won three of her last four starts at 3, including the Esplanade Stakes at Fair Grounds on Dec. 20.

Royale Michele puts a four-race winning streak on the line in the Distaff. She successfully shipped out of West Virginia to win the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie on Feb. 14.

Trainer Bobby Frankel is poised to make his 2009 New York debut with Moonshine Alice, who has made her last four starts in Southern California on turf or synthetic surfaces. She went 3 for 4 over Tampa Bay's dirt track in the spring of 2008.

Local stars Zada Belle and the Todd Pletcher-trained uncoupled entry of Awesome Ashley and Distorted Passion complete the field.

Castro off till next week

Jockey Eddie Castro, the meet's fourth leading rider with 40 wins, took off his three mounts on Wednesday due to a death in the family. He returned to his native Panama to be with family.

Castro will be out of action until March 26 as he also was hit with a seven-day careless riding suspension as a result of Saturday's fifth race. Castro won the race aboard Won Great Classic, but was ruled to have carelessly allowed his mount to bear in on runner-up Temore. The stewards did not feel the incident warranted a disqualification, but they did feel it warranted a suspension.