12/22/2010 5:39PM

Keyed up, rained out in the big California storm


Looking for a cinch on Sunday, opening day of the Santa Anita winter meet?

Keep looking.

Persistent rain kept the Santa Anita main track closed again Wednesday, as training activity was funneled to the infield training track.

Track superintendent Richard Tedesco hoped to open the outer lanes of the main track for galloping on Thursday, and if the forecast holds, the track will be completely open for workouts on Friday.

You’d think that would be too late for most of the opening-day starters, though some trainers said they may work their horses that morning, two days before they run Sunday.

“We’re all in the same boat,” trainers Mike Machowsky (Caracortado) and Jeff Bonde (Smiling Tiger) both said. Technically, the trainers of the two key Malibu starters are right.

However, disrupted training patterns affect some horses more than others.

When horses are confined for longer times than normal, when they are unable gallop or work, they sometimes get keyed up and start acting spooky.

It is a valid worry for Malibu favorite Twirling Candy.

Remember what happened this summer? Twirling Candy took a right-hand turn into the backstretch of the Del Mar Derby. He won anyway.

Twirling Candy can be a handful in the morning, too. And one wonders if his limited training schedule this week might push him over the boiling point in the Malibu.

“I just hope Twirling Candy does not do something stupid,” one rival trainer said.

Yep, everyone is in the same boat.

Meanwhile, bettors looking for the proverbial opening-day cinch could do worse than look to race 5, the $100,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes for 2-year-olds.

The winner should not be tough to find, even if there is no such thing as a sure thing.