05/20/2007 11:00PM

Will Three Degrees live up to her rep?


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The problem with the flashy 3-year-old season that Three Degrees had in 2005 is that she has to live up to it.

Three Degrees won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2005 and later that season placed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Last year, she was second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in November, her best result in a winless five-race season.

This year, Three Degrees can answer any questions about her with a win on Monday in the $300,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap.

It will not be easy. The Grade 1 Gamely will bring together the best field of turf fillies and mares in the nation this year, including the stakes winners Charm the Giant, Citronnade, Price Tag, Vacare, and the stakes-placed Sohgol.

"When she runs her race, she can keep up with the good mares," said Three Degrees's trainer, Paddy Gallagher.

Three Degrees has not started since finishing third to Citronnade in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita in January. The race was a disappointment. She was the 6-5 favorite and rallied from seventh to lose by 3 3/4 lengths.

Gallagher called for Three Degrees to have a vacation after that race.

"We kind of freshened her up," he said. "She didn't seem to fire. She ran a huge race in the Matriarch, but she didn't have that kick in the San Gorgonio."

The Gamely is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, the distance at which Three Degrees won in the Honeymoon. She has more seconds (6) than wins (3) in her 15-race career, and has earned $473,813.

In the Gamely, she will be ridden by regular rider Alex Solis, and will make her typical move from off the pace. She will need to be at her best.

"Alex rides her well, and he knows her," Gallagher said. "She's got quite a late kick."

Shoemaker and $1 million pick six pool Monday

The Gamely is one of two Grade 1 stakes on Monday's card, which also offers a guaranteed pick six pool of $1 million. The day's other major stakes is the $300,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile on turf.

A field of nine is probable for the Shoemaker - Becrux, Charmo, Chinese Dragon, Get Funky, Kip Deville, Right Special, The Tin Man, Vega's Lord, and Willow O Wisp.

Chinese Dragon, Vega's Lord, and Charmo were the first three finishers of the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields on April 28. Kip Deville won his third consecutive stakes in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Stakes at Keeneland on April 13.

Right Special, trained by Paulo Lobo, will make his U.S. stakes debut. He was a multiple stakes winner in Brazil last year and won his U.S. debut in an allowance race on April 26.

Itty Bitty Pretty euthanized

Itty Bitty Pretty, the winner of the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita in January 2006, was euthanized on Sunday after suffering a tibia injury, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

The injury occurred in a morning workout at Hollywood.

Owned by STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood, Itty Bitty Pretty won 2 of 9 starts and $189,768. She had not started since finishing last in the Kentucky Oaks in May 2006. Earlier in 2006, she ran third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

O'Neill also said that an unraced 2-year-old that he trains suffered a knee injury during a workout at Hollywood on Sunday and was undergoing surgery at Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Los Olivos, Calif. O'Neill declined to give the name the injured horse.

Laddies Poker might try Colonial Turf Cup

Laddies Poker, the morning-line favorite for Saturday's Will Rogers Stakes, was withdrawn on the morning of the race because of illness, trainer Vladimir Cerin said.

"He coughed a couple of times," Cerin said. "He had a trace of mucus, a grade 1 on a scale of 4. When you think of scratching him, you probably should. I think he's an important horse."

Cerin said Laddies Poker will be considered for the $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup at 1 3/16 miles on turf on June 16. "If I can get in," Cerin said.

The purse of the Colonial Turf Cup race is likely to attract a large field of runners from throughout the United States.

One gelding that will not be traveling to Virginia for the race is Worldly, who won his first stakes in the Grade 3 Will Rogers.

Trainer Ben Cecil said that Worldly will be pointed for the $150,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf here June 23.

"He came back like he had hardly ran," Cecil said on Sunday. "He had a little bit of mucus after the race."

Worldly has won 3 of 5 starts. The Will Rogers was his second win in as many starts since arriving from England over the winter. Last year, Worldly bled in his final start in that country, Cecil said.

"He's still a big baby," Cecil said. "He hasn't worked out what it's all about.

"With the bleeding in England last year, I think the last couple of races have done his confidence good."

First-timer Sky Cape pays $145.60

The biggest upset of the meeting to date was Sky Cape's win in Sunday's fourth race at 71-1, which led to a carryover of $850,466 for Wednesday's program.

A first-time starter, Sky Cape held off a late run from 4-5 favorite Booted to win by a head over 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.99 seconds. Sky Cape returned $145.60.

Sky Cape, by Najran, was bred by trainer and co-owner Kristin Mulhall. Ridden by Jose Valdvia Jr., Sky Cape chased pacesetter Going Places for the first half-mile and took the lead in the final furlong.

"I thought he'd been training huge," Mulhall said. "He's a spooky horse on the ground and to be around, but when he's breezing he's a real pro."

Mulhall said Sky Cape could return in the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship over six furlongs.

Sky Cape is the first winner for Najran, who is by Runaway Groom and stands at Hopewell Farm in Kentucky.