08/08/2007 11:00PM

Worldly aims to add to stakes total in La Jolla


DEL MAR, Calif. - Even with 4 wins in 6 career starts, and two consecutive stakes wins, Worldly has yet to figure out racing, trainer Ben Cecil said.

"He's still a little babyish," Cecil said. "He'll get better and better with every race."

Cecil's opinion is somewhat surprising considering that Worldly is perfect in three starts this year, a streak that will be put to the test in Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar.

Worldly is the 121-pound topweight on the basis of his half-length victory in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes in May and one-length win in the Grade 3 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in June.

Those races featured small fields, but there are nine entrants in the Grade 2 La Jolla, which is run over 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds. A larger field may not hinder Worldly. Cecil is most concerned with jockey Michael Baze keeping Worldly focused in the final furlong.

"Even when he makes the front in his works, he pulls himself up," Cecil said. "He won those races [at Hollywood Park] a little cozier than the margin indicates. He's a gelding, and he could be useful over time. I think he'll be a better horse next year."

Owned by Christopher Wright, Worldly has earned $161,820 this year. When he arrived in the United States last winter, Cecil treated him gingerly because he had suffered a bad incident of bleeding from the lungs in his final start in England last September.

The problem has not resurfaced this year, Cecil said, but along with "a warm foot" it did contribute to a decision not to send Worldly to Colonial Downs for the $1 million Virginia Derby last month.

"I was looking for an excuse not to go" to Virginia, Cecil said. "It was up to me."

Worldly is the lone graded stakes winner in the La Jolla field, which has drawn two winners of divisions of the restricted Oceanside Stakes here on July 18 - Ten a Penny and Vauquelin.

Ten a Penny won the Oceanside in his U.S. debut, kicking clear in the final furlong. Vauquelin won a slower division but rallied from last in a field of nine, weaving through traffic in the stretch.

"He closed well the other day," trainer Kathy Walsh said of Vauquelin. Jockey Victor Espinoza "had to pick his spots and go out and go in. He didn't run but the last quarter-mile."

Vauquelin will be ridden by Corey Nakatani. Espinoza is riding at Arlington Park on Saturday.

Medici Code and Unusual Suspect, second in divisions of the Oceanside, start in the La Jolla. Unusual Suspect is seeking his first stakes win in his 14th start.

Medici Code finished a head behind race winner Knockout Artist in the second division of the Oceanside, his first start since finishing sixth in the Santa Anita Derby last April.

Medici Code led to deep stretch in the Oceanside, but trainer Darrell Vienna would prefer that the gelding run from off the pace. I think he's wants a target rather than being a target," Vienna said.

The La Jolla marks the turf stakes debut of Dilemma and Latin Rhythms, ewho both ran well in allowance races on the synthetic main track at Hollywood Park earlier this summer.o