01/30/2009 1:00AM

Alpha Kitten sidelined with a broken leg


ARCADIA, Calif. - Alpha Kitten, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita last month, suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture to the cannon bone of her right foreleg while galloping at Santa Anita on Thursday, said trainer John Sadler.

A 3-year-old filly, Alpha Kitten was scheduled to undergo surgery this weekend to have stabilizing screws placed in the leg. Because the bone was not displaced, Sadler expects Alpha Kitten to return to training later this year, possibly within five or six months.

Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Alpha Kitten has won 2 of 4 starts and $162,870. She was considered a candidate for the $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes next Saturday.

Alpha Kitten won her first stakes in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez. Last year, she won a maiden race at Del Mar, finished second in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita, and was fourth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Alpha Kitten would have been a supporting player in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, which is expected to draw 2008 champion 2-year-old filly Stardom Bound. The winner of three Grade 1 stakes, Stardom Bound has not started since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 24. In the Las Virgenes, she will make her first start for IEAH Stables, which bought her for $5.7 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall sale in November.

Stardom Bound is now trained by Bobby Frankel, having previously been with Christopher Paasch.

In the one-mile Las Virgenes, Stardom Bound will face stakes winners Century Park, Navigator, and Saucey Evening, as well as the stakes-placed runners Haka and Nan, and the maiden race winner Pinkarella.

The Las Virgenes is one of five graded stakes next weekend, four on Saturday and one on Sunday. Two races are preps for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 - Saturday's $250,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds and Sunday's $200,000 San Antonio Handicap for older horses. Both races are run over 1 1/8 miles.

The Strub field is expected to include Cowboy Cal, Dixie Chatter, Gio Ponti, Nownownow, Slew's Tiznow, and Wesley. The probables for the San Antonio are Becrux, Champs Elysees, Informed, Magnum, Tiago and Well Armed. Blue Exit and Dakota Phone, 4-year-olds trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, are candidates for both races.

The $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles, also to be run Saturday, will feature the 2009 debut of Pioneerof the Nile, the winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December. He will face a field expected to include Bittel Road, I Want Revenge, Papa Clem, and Oil Man.

The Lewis field will not include Brother Keith, who finished fourth in the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes on Jan. 17. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Brother Keith is a candidate for the $200,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds next Saturday.

Brother Keith had a troubled trip in the San Rafael, drifting out significantly in the first turn. Frankel later concluded that Brother Keith was reacting to a change in shadow patterns caused by a bright sun setting behind the grandstand. He noted that Brother Keith made a similar move when the field was galloping out after the race.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Thunder Road Handicap will be run on Saturday over a mile on turf.

Friends see Matlow off

Trainer Richard Matlow, who is battling Lou Gehrig's disease, had his final starter on Thursday when Cambria Sunrise finished seventh in the third race. He is in the process of dispersing his 14-horse stable to other trainers.

Matlow was at Santa Anita on Thursday, but left the job of saddling Cambria Sunrise to trainer Tim Yakteen. Surrounded by friends, Matlow watched the sprint for maiden claimers on a bench in the paddock.

After the race, he had a brief talk with jockey David Flores and received several well-wishers.

Matlow, 66, was diagnosed in 2008 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that has affected his muscle tone, speech and walk. In November, Matlow won his first graded stakes when Jack o' Lantern won the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes. The colt was later sidelined with a leg injury.

Super Sunday

Sunday's program starts at 11 a.m. to accommodate race fans who want to be home for kickoff of the Super Bowl. The nine-race program features a football theme, and a touch of nostalgia.

Early in the program, the racetrack will honor 106-year-old racing fan Florence Tuckman of Glendale, Calif. Tuckman, born in 1903 in Philadelphia, has been attending races at Santa Anita since the late 1930s, and will be accompanied on Sunday by friends and four generations of her family.

According to her family, Tuckman was in attendance at Santa Anita to watch Seabiscuit race. She attended Santa Anita regularly until the death of her husband in the early 1990s.

"They used to go there every week," said her granddaughter Karen Nichols. "She used to take my brother and I. We know the place well. She's very excited."

Early Sunday, retired NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer, who played for the Washington Redskins in the 1973 Super Bowl, will make an appearance on the HRTV program "Raceday America."

Excuse Backbackbackgone's last race

The last-place finish by three-time stakes winner Backbackbackgone in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash on Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park is a toss-out, said trainer Peter Miller.

"I hate to make excuses, but he had a big one," Miller said.

According to Miller, Backbackbackgone "bled and displaced" before weakening through the stretch. Backbackbackgone remained in Florida after the 10th-place finish, and on Thursday in Ocala he underwent minor throat surgery to correct the breathing disorder.

Backbackbackgone will return to Miller's California base at San Luis Rey Downs.

"He'll be out 30 days," Miller said.

Backbackbackgone won more sprint stakes (three) last year than any other California-based 2-year-old. Overall, he has won 4 of 6 starts and earned $159,440.

- additional reporting by Brad Free