01/14/2011 10:19PM

How fast too fast?


Square Eddie is a good horse, and trainer Doug O’Neill was right. Despite not having started Square Eddie in more than one year, O’Neill said “He’s ready to win.”

He was more than ready, it turns out.

Square Eddie on Friday obliterated the Santa Anita track record for six and one-half furlongs, a record set more than 12 years ago by Son of a Pistol.

Square Eddie smashed it. He raced virtually gate to wire in 1:13.11, three-fifths off the old mark. He did it while geared down the final yards.

Records that are set by good horses can be a cause for celebration, and Square Eddie is a good horse. But he was racing in a second-level allowance race, not a graded stake.

And the way records are falling this winter at Santa Anita, celebration might give way to concern.

The Factor, a 2-year-old, set the new mark for six furlongs when he went in 1:06.98 on Dec. 26.

Twirling Candy, a good horse but not yet great, set the new mark for seven furlongs, 1:19.70 on Dec. 26.

That prompted one longtime Santa Anita employee to make this cynical remark: “It’s about time we got that bum Spectacular Bid out of the record book.”

Twirling Candy bruised a foot and has not raced since. Neither has The Factor.

Then the news broke Friday about Sidney’s Candy. He had raced a mile in 1:33.70, also on Dec. 26.

Sidney's Candy is “off” and scratched from the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes on Saturday. Preliminary indications are the setback was not serious.

Horses get hurt everywhere. No one is blaming the Santa Anita track.

But three track records the first 13 days of racing does seem strange.

Square Eddie, a Grade 1 winner in fall 2008, is a good horse.

Let’s hope he is good enough to run fast, and then run again.

Because when horses run as fast as they have been running this winter at Santa Anita, one has to ask again – at what expense?