11/23/2001 1:00AM

Will rest cure Kona Gold's blues?


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Kona Gold, the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last month at Belmont Park, will be given six weeks off after failing to impress trainer Bruce Headley in the Frank J. De Francis Memor-ial Dash at Laurel Park in Maryland last weekend.

Headley on Friday said that Kona Gold, the champion sprinter of 2000, has been turned out on property at his home in Arcadia, Calif., near Santa Anita.

"He's either lost interest, he's over the hill, he didn't like the track, or I didn't train him right," Headley said. "There is a lot of speculation."

Headley was quick to emphasize that Kona Gold showed no sign of physical distress following a fourth-place finish in the De Francis. He was surprised that Kona Gold was beaten four lengths in a six-furlong race that finished in 1:09.

"They ran in nine and he ran in 10, that's not him," Headley said. Headley said two races at Santa Anita - the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap on March 3 or the $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 30 - would be the starting point of Kona Gold's 2002 campaign. A winner of 12 of 23 starts and $2,069,364, the 7-year-old Kona Gold won both of those races earlier this year.

"He's been in the stall for three years," Headley said. "Maybe being out in the sunshine and eating green grass, I can get him back."

Tout Charmant needs a scratch

Tout Charmant, the defending champion of the Matriarch Stakes, may be left in the barn on Sunday afternoon.

With no wins or placings in graded stakes in three starts this year, Tout Charmant was the only filly or mare not guaranteed a starting spot in the field of 14 when entries were drawn on Thursday. The others won or placed in graded or group stakes, the criteria used to determine eligibility. There may still be hope for Tout Charmant. Because she will be coupled in the betting with Freefourracing, Tout Charmant will be listed in the track program.

A scratch before 10 a.m. on Sunday would open a berth for Tout Charmant. To stay prepared, trainer Ron McAnally worked Tout Charmant a half-mile on the main track in 51.20 seconds on Friday at Santa Anita.

The $500,000 Matriarch Stakes is the first leg of a tough pick six that features a guaranteed pool of $1 million. There are fields of at least seven starters in the other pick six races, including 14 in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (the seventh race) and fields of 12 in the final two races, a one-mile allowance race on turf and a $50,000 claiming race over 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Figlio Mio will skip Native Diver

Figlio Mio, who was second in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap and California Cup Classic in recent months, will miss the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap on Dec. 9, the top race for older horses on dirt at the Hollywood Park fall meeting.

Trainer Ben Cecil said that Figlio Mio emerged from the California Cup Classic with an illness, but was scheduled to resume exercise this weekend at Santa Anita.

Cecil has the $200,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 5 as a long-term goal for Figlio Mio.

Aguirre's luck was all bad

River Valley Lass, the even-money favorite with 10 minutes to post in Friday's first race, was withdrawn after flipping on the path that leads from the backstretch to the paddock, according to steward George Slender.

Her absence left the field with four starters. Suora Notte ($7.20) prevailed in a three-horse photo, but Storm Saga, the original second-place finisher, was disqualified and placed third for causing interference to Land Tax in deep stretch.

It was a tough result for trainer Paul Aguirre. He trains both Storm Saga and River Valley Lass.