02/12/2003 12:00AM

You prefers running to rest

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ARCADIA, Calif. - You, the star 3-year-old filly in trainer Bobby Frankel's stable last year, was supposed to get a vacation after the La Brea Stakes on Dec. 28.

It's safe to say the filly had other ideas about her short-term future.

In late December, Frankel said he would give You a few months of light exercise at the start of 2003 to have her ready for the major races of the summer and fall. After Frankel noticed she continued to train well, he changed his plans.

Sunday, she makes her 4-year-old debut in the $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap against older fillies and mares at Santa Anita.

"She's been doing really good," Frankel said.

The lack of a deep field in the Santa Maria influenced Frankel to start You. Two of the top females in the country aren't running: Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, and Affluent, who won the Santa Monica Handicap Jan. 25 at the expense of the Frankel-trained Sightseek.

"That was a big factor," Frankel said.

The competition does include Alexine, Printemps, Rhiana, Se Me Acabo, and Starrer. In their last starts, Starrer won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park and Printemps won the Paseana Handicap. The rest are coming off losses.

You finished fifth in the La Brea Stakes, her only loss in three starts at Santa Anita. Last year, she won the Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks. The Oaks was run over 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Santa Maria.

Owned by Edmund Gann, You may have lost her last four starts, but she has played at the highest level for the last 18 months. The Santa Maria will mark her 13th consecutive appearance in a Grade 1 race.

Holiday weekend features five stakes

The Santa Maria is the top race in a six-day week of racing that includes five stakes.

Saturday, there are two important races - the $200,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf and the $100,000 Boo la Boo Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies over six furlongs.

The Tin Man, second in the San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 20, heads the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo, which is expected to include Continental Red, Harrisand, Lucky Molar, and Special Matter.

The Santa Maria Handicap is the Sunday feature, and the restricted $75,000 San Marino Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf is on Sunday's undercard.

There is racing on Monday, Presidents Day, and the main race is the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap over a mile on turf for fillies and mares.

Sea of Showers, trained by Frankel, makes her stakes debut following flashy wins in two allowance races over the last two months. The 4-year-old Sea of Showers was group stakes-placed in France last year.

Perdomo changing careers

Pico Perdomo on Wednesday said he is leaving training at the end of this month to open a bloodstock agency based in South America.

Perdomo, 60, is best known as the trainer of Gourmet Girl, the champion older female of 2001. Gourmet Girl won the Apple Blossom and Vanity handicaps in her championship year.

Perdomo cited the rising costs of training in Southern California as a factor in his decision.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time," he said. "The workers' compensation is going up and up."

A native of Uruguay, where he was a leading jockey, Perdomo said he is in the midst of dispersing his 16-horse stable.

"I'll start looking to give the horses away and sell some of the horses," he said. "At the end of the month, I hope to be out."

Perdomo has opened an office in Argentina and said he will also work in Brazil and Chile. Horses from those countries are frequently exported to Southern California trainers.

"I've been doing this for 32 years," he said of training. "I think the change will be good."

Perdomo also trained the stakes winners Jetin Excess, Rial, and Stalwart Charger.

"Gourmet Girl will be my favorite as long as I live," he said. "She did something that not too many can do."

Perdomo is the latest in a string of California trainers to announce they are leaving the sport, or leaving the state. Many have cited rising costs as a principal reason for their decision.

Trainer Clifford Sise said earlier this year that he intends to send a string of horses to Philadelphia Park later this spring. Christopher Paasch will launch a training operation in central Kentucky next month.

Both said they will have a strong presence in California when the Del Mar meeting opens in late July.

No works on sealed track

Racetrack training on Wednesday at Santa Anita was restricted to joggers on the outside third of the main track. The inside portion of the main track was sealed and not used in order to protect it for the afternoon races.

Track superintendent Steve Wood said the surface had taken two inches of rain from the early hours of Tuesday through 9 a.m. on Wednesday with an additional two inches of rain expected by Friday morning.

The storm is the first measurable rain to fall at Santa Anita since the meeting opened on Dec. 26 and the first measurable rain in Southern California since mid-December.

"It's been a goofy year," Wood said. "It's been hot and windy. This track takes a lot of abuse."

Wood said that his staff was able to seal the track when the first rain fell at 1:30 a.m.

"Luckily, I had someone here and they jumped on it and sealed it," he said. "In a half-hour, it was too wet to seal. About 12 years ago, I didn't have a crew here all night."

The weather played havoc with the work schedule of some leading horses. Captain Squire, the winner of the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 25, was scheduled to work on Wednesday. He is preparing for a start in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint at Nad Al-Sheba in Dubai on March 29.