03/03/2010 12:00AM

An anxious Palladio won't make it to Big Cap

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Palladio, who finished second in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita in January, will miss Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap after becoming upset in the moments before a flight was scheduled to leave Florida on Wednesday morning, trainer Roger Attfield said.

Attfield suspected the incident could have been caused by the presence of a full plane of horses. Palladio was flown from Florida to California in January, but Attfield said, "the last time it was not a full plane."

Palladio was taken off the plane and returned to the trainer's winter base at Payson Park.

"We had to take him off," Attfield said. "They couldn't fly him unless they [tranquilized] him."

A winner of 9 of 36 starts and $1,060,812, Palladio was considered a leading contender in a wide-open running of the Santa Anita Handicap.

The race drew a maximum field of 14 from 21 entrants, leaving seven horses excluded, a reflection on the lack of a standout.

Three leading older horses on this circuit are not in the field. Zenyatta, the undefeated winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic here in November, is being pointed for the $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap against females on March 13. Rail Trip, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup last summer, is being prepared for a return to racing in the spring. And, Richard's Kid, who won the Pacific Classic last September and the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap last month, is being held out of the Big Cap in favor of the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 27.

Without them, the role of 117-pound starting highweight in the Big Cap has gone to four horses - Loup Breton (the winner of the San Marcos Stakes on turf in January), Mast Track (Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park in December), Neko Bay (San Pasqual Handicap in January), and Marsh Side, who was seventh in the San Antonio.

The race will not have a clear favorite, although among the shortest prices will be Loup Breton; Misremembered, who was second to Big Cap entrant Jeranimo in the Strub Stakes; and St Trinians, the 5-year-old mare who won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap last month.

The defection of Palladio on the morning entries were taken led to the inclusion of Delightful Kiss (115), who was a well-beaten third behind Quality Road in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 6.

The Usual Q.T. headed to Dubai

The Usual Q.T., who won four turf stakes from October through December, will pass Saturday's $250,000 Frank Kilroe Mile in favor of the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 27, trainer Jim Cassidy said.

Cassidy said the decision was reached after consulting with Don Van, who heads the partnership that owns the 4-year-old gelding.

The Usual Q.T. finished ninth as the even-money favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic on the main track here on Jan. 30. Cassidy said after that race that The Usual Q.T. was found to have bled from the lungs.

The Usual Q.T. will not be allowed to race on bleeder medication in Dubai, a concern to the trainer.

"I've got 24 days [to the race] and I'm already stressed about it," Cassidy said. "All I can do is train him up to it. There won't be any medication, but we might be able to get away without it once."

The Kilroe Mile drew a field of 11, led by Battle of Hastings, a millionaire in 2009; Fluke, the winner of the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park last November; and Ever a Friend, winner of the 2008 Kilroe, who has been limited to four starts in the last two years.