“I’m not going to mention any names, because this one (trainer) probably will be eventually embarrassed,” Migliore began the story. “I went into his barn, and I said, `Hey, I’ve ridden so many winners for you over the years, and I haven’t been riding for you, and I feel like getting started again.’ The guy’s got like 40 horses in the barn. I said, `Give me one we can get started with.’ “He said, `Nah, it’s not going to happen.’ I said, `Why? Did I do something so wrong?’ He said, `You want me to be honest?’ I said, `Yeah.’ He said, `Why should I ride you at 41 years old with all the injuries you’ve had, when I could ride 25-year-olds who’ve never had the battle scars you have?’ “The competitive part of me wanted to tell him off,” Migliore said. “But there was really nothing left to say, because that’s how a lot of people were looking at me. I walked out of the barn, and my eyes filled up with tears. I thought, `I’m 41 years old and I’m reduced to this?”‘ Migliore is one of those people who believe everything happens for a reason. “I went driving over to the main track, and the first person I ran into was Ron Anderson,” he said. “We’d already had these conversations. And that’s when it clicked. This was the way I was supposed to go. I went home and talked with my family and said if I stay (in New York), I’m looking at the end of my career. I wasn’t ready to not ride, and I knew I had a lot more to offer. I knew I needed to take this chance.” So Migliore did start over, but in a way that startled many fans of the Babylon, N.Y., product who’d been a New York racing fixture for a quarter-century. In November, the father of four moved to Southern California. After a get-acquainted season at Hollywood Park, Migliore has made himself at home at Santa Anita. As the 85-day season hits its midpoint this afternoon, he’s tied with Corey Nakatani for fourth in the standings with 21 wins (13 percent). ARCADIA – Go west, old man. Richard Migliore got that message in October at Belmont Park, though not in so few words. Slow to resume winning after a broken leg – from his third serious fall in three years – Migliore had talked idly with the leading agent Ron Anderson about leaving New York for the California racetracks. Determined not to quit his native circuit without a final push, Migliore resolved one morning to hit the stables and hustle business from ex-clients. First you should know The Mig is a nice man, and, by his own description, a sensitive man. Since winning the Sir Beaufort Stakes with Kip Deville ($16.20) on opening day, Migliore hasn’t won a stakes-level race. But he has earned a long-shot chance on Richard Mandella-trained ElRoblar in the March 3 Santa Anita Handicap. That skeptical New York trainer? “I’ve already proven him wrong, no matter what,” Migliore said Thursday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “He was telling me I was done. I knew I wasn’t done by a long shot.” Migliore, whose 4,200-plus victories with horses as illustrious as Funny Cide and Artie Schiller make him one of the most accomplished jockeys without a Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup win, has shown up tougher naysayers than this. After breaking his neck in a 1988 accident at Belmont, the 5-foot-4, 112-pounder was told by doctors he’d never walk again. An operation to fuse three vertebra, implant bone grafts and put a post and wires in his neck got him back to competition in six months. Numbness in the fingers and soles lingers. Migliore, fascinated by California racing since a grandfather gave him a Bill Shoemaker book when he was 11, said he has enjoyed exploring Santa Anita. Still living in an extended- stay hotel in Arcadia, he plans to decide in April whether to make the move permanent by bringing his wife Carmela and their children – ages 5 to 16 – to L.A. The first move was to start winning races again. Migliore has accomplished that. “I couldn’t have expected to be fourth (in the standings) at this juncture of the meeting, and seeing momentum building,” he said. “I’m thrilled.” This weekend: Trainer Noble Threewitt, who has retired after a career that spans the life of Santa Anita, will be honored in a winner’s-circle ceremony following the fifth race on his 96th birthday Saturday. Hystericalady (Corey Nakatani riding) faces Selvatica (Garrett Gomez) and 10 others in Saturday’s Las Flores Handicap sprint for 12 fillies and mares. One Off (Brice Blanc) is the 117-pound high weight in what’s likely to be a small field for Sunday’s San Luis Obispo Handicap at 1 miles on turf. Next! Lava Man can expect 10 opponents, including fellow Grade I winners Brother Derek, Boboman and Wilko, when the 6-year-old tries to extend his local dominance in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap a week from Saturday. The 10 listed Thursday by Santa Anita officials, with jockeys if they’ve been named: San Antonio Handicap 1-2-3 finishers Molengao (Victor Espinoza), Ball Four (Julien Leparoux) and El Roblar (Migliore); Strub Stakes 1-2-3 Arson Squad (Gomez), Spring at Last, and Brother Derek (Alex Solis); San Fernando Stakes winner Awesome Gem; Sunshine Millions Classic upsetter McCann’s Mojave (Frank Alvarado); Hollywood Turf Cup winner Boboman, and Wilko, 0 for 14 since the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Nakatani rides Lava Man, winner of eight in a row and 11 of his past 12 in California. Weight assignments will be announced Saturday. The lineup will be set Wednesday morning. Kevin Modesti is a Daily News columnist. His horse racing column appears on Friday. [email protected] (818) 713-3616 SANTA ANITA LEADERS Through Thursday JOCKEY, WINS Garrett Gomez 55 Victor Espinoza 43 David Flores 29 Richard Migliore 21 Corey Nakatani 21 TRAINER, WINS Doug O’Neill 21 John Sadler 18 Bob Baffert 16 Bobby Frankel 13 Jeff Mullins 13 ON THE STAKES SCHEDULE SANTA ANITA Saturday $100,000 Las Flores Handicap, 4-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. Sunday $150,000 San Luis Obispo, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile (turf). GULFSTREAM PARK Saturday $200,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes, 4-year-olds and up, 1 3/8 miles (turf). A WEEK AT THE RACES Santa Anita announced plans to lay down a synthetic main track in time for the Oak Tree opener Sept. 26, but didn’t say which brand it would use. Hollywood Park debuted its synthetic oval in 2006, and Del Mar and Golden Gate Fields are installing theirs, following a state mandate to switch to the more forgiving surfaces. Jon Court has won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in balloting by the nation’s riders, and the well-liked 47-year-old will be honored March 25 at Santa Anita. The annual award recognizes a rider for qualities on and off the track. Hollywood Park has moved the Hollywood Gold Cup earlier in the calendar for 2007 in a reflection of the track’s emphasis on the newfangled CashCall Mile and American Oaks. The $750,000 Gold Cup moves to Saturday, June 30, essentially trading weekends with the $1 million (up from $750,000) CashCall-sponsored race for fillies and mares (Friday night, June 6) and the $750,000 Oaks for 3-year-old fillies (Saturday, June 7). In a track statement, racing secretary Martin Panza said the new dates make the distaff races “a much better fit” for the out-of-state and foreign horses they’re meant to attract. Martin Pedroza was bruised, but none of the three people in his car was seriously hurt, after a collision Wednesday in Duarte. Pedroza missed three mounts Thursday. Ron Franklin took a half-step forward in his comeback from drug trouble when Maryland officials on Tuesday restored his exercise-rider’s license and promised to consider a full jockey’s license in six months. Franklin, 47, is remembered as the teenage rider of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Spectacular Bid in 1979. Triple Grade I winner English Channel dropped to the allowance level Thursday at Gulfstream Park and won in 1:44.59 at 1 1/8 miles on turf to break the two-year-old course record of Saint Stephen. John Velazquez rode for Todd Pletcher. – Kevin Modesti 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!